Wednesday, February 15, 2012

NREGA and UID: The Two Main Potential Harbingers of Prosperity in India

NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) and UID (Unique Identification Number) coupled with E-governance can be real game changers in India's road to prosperity in the shortest possible time.India presently has 500 million Below Poverty Line (BPL) hungry mouths which are supposed to be a big liability on the nation. But thinking positively the same hungry mouths translate into 200 million adult working heads and that amounts to 1600 million working hours on a daily basis. So is it certainly not a drag as is made out in many government circles, it is in fact a much bigger asset not many countries on this globe can even dream of. The destiny of Indian nation now depends on the wisdom and sincerity of Indian polity and how it decides to perceive this fact, for the first perception is the road to gloom and destruction while the latter is a short cut to prosperity and fulfilling the dream of being a developed prosperous nation.
Indian government has no doubt noble thought process of working towards making the life livable for these masses with a variety of measures like providing proper food, house, safe drinking water, clean and sanitary conditions, rural roads, health care services and education and even work. To fulfil these missions  food subsidy, fuel subsidy, NREGA jobs and a host of other freebies and doles are being provided but in actual practice all these efforts of providing subsidised food and fuel, free midday meals and even a job are almost totally lost at the altar of corruption and corrupt practices. While the government spends its hard earned monetary resources, the designated beneficiaries get a small fraction out of it and that too many times in the form of sub standard adulterated and rotten food stuff. The government through a plethora of schemes  has opened too many avenues for individuals and mafias to reap undue advantage through pilferage, theft, benefit going to undeserving individuals and in many cases to non existent names. All this because of government's sole aim of undertaking these measures only for votes and without  real concern to the plight of India's poor citizens. Its lack of sincerity and inability to check corruption and management costs of these schemes only point out to some vicious hidden agenda.
This figure of 500 million BPL individuals is as it is exaggerated when we see so many non eligible names in   small checks carried out at district level. A fair estimation points to a figure of 400 million individuals needing assistance. A sincere effort in pure national interest would be to empower all BPL family heads financially in lieu of work and work alone to such a level that they can take care of all requirements of their family members viz. food, health care, education etc. Ensure a sum of Rs 1000/- per month to each individual at a total cost of Rs 400000 crores which translates into 3200 crores of work days ( @ 125/ day ) for 20 crore adults i.e. 160 working days per annum ( men and women have both included ). Doing away with subsidies, freebies and doles (and including the expenses involved in the proposed food security bill) completely by centre and states and making payments to individuals having UID only through banks can easily take care of this amount.

The following additional advantage will accrue

  • Government's inefficient and scam ridden public distribution system  will no more be required.
  • No bogus individuals and no unnecessary payments
  • 3200 crores extra man days can do wonders for the country.
  • Government as facilitator and not provider
  • Banking facility to almost every citizen
  • Only two bodies to be kept under checks and controls. One the BPL certification authority and the other  work certification authority.
  • Such a large force comes into the realm of organised sector making providing them Healthcare and Education  a much easier job.
  • All corruption in many aspects of life will be mitigated.
  • And above all such a large section of society will live with self esteem and heads held high. 
To make such an important headway in NREGA and UID, the two main Potential Harbingers of Prosperity in India, government can in some way compensate financial organisations like banks and insurance companies so that all the benefits could reach the doorsteps of the poor millions of the country at the earliest. It must be ensured that no spanners are put in implementation of such magnificent schemes having far reaching effect on the destiny of India by any vested interests.