Minimum income schemes for poor: Both Congress and BJP are doing it wrong; freebies won’t cure poverty


Congress Occasion president Rahul Gandhi proposed a minimal earnings assure to the poor if the celebration involves energy within the 2019 election. The announcement attracts public consideration and there was media dialogue on it. Nonetheless, the motion plan isn’t but revealed by the Congress Occasion.

The BJP authorities on the Centre has additionally provided Rs 6,000 every year (Rs 17 per day) to marginal and subsistence farmers. It has additionally provided a contributory pension scheme known as ‘Pradhan Mantri Shram-Yogi Maandhan’ for the unorganised sector staff.

As per the Finances 2019 doc, this pension scheme shall present them an assured month-to-month pension of Rs 3,000 from the age of 60 years on a month-to-month contribution of a small, inexpensive quantity throughout their working age.

An unorganised sector employee becoming a member of pension yojana on the age of 29 years must contribute solely Rs 100 per 30 days until the age of 60 years. So, this scheme could be known as a demand-driven programme, i.e., those that want and are able to contributing can be a part of on this programme. These are focused intervention programmes and don’t provide any main change within the family financial system of the poor. Nonetheless, each the Congress and the BJP equally mission it will change the electoral politics and likewise enhance the financial circumstances of the poor. Such self-proclaimed consensus constructing is the largest obstacle to improvement within the nation.

Nonetheless, the feasibility of the tasks is sketchy and might be insufficient for the poor. These declarations needs to be handled as artwork of successful elections moderately than welfare, and the ‘good’ politicians know that earnings and employment safety appeal to public creativeness within the nation greater than anything.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational picture. Reuters

The minimal earnings proposed by Congress and the naked minimal assist to farmers (Rs 17 per day) by the ruling BJP authorities are literally rooted within the concept of primary want method (BNA) proposed by the Worldwide Labor Group (ILO) in 1979. So, these aren’t new and there have been many trial and errors on this concept.

In mid-1970,  the Worldwide Labour Organisation (ILO) as a part of the World Employment Convention proposed the concept of primary want assist for staff. It traces again to the paper written by Albert Maslow within the Psychological Assessment in March 1942 through which he defined the significance of 5 wants beginning with physiological and ending with self-actualization. Additionally, in  the 1950s, the idea of “minimum needs” was developed by Pitambar Pant of the Indian Planning Fee which emphases earnings assist to weaker sections.

What ILO proposes is a primary minimal social safety to staff moderately than earnings. Although it appears progressive, nonetheless it had many contradictions, particularly fixing the restrict to which primary wants could be provided in a growing financial system like India. No growing nation may purse it and display any success. Afterward, charity and philanthropic help businesses took it ahead of their humanitarian intervention mission and no formal improvement programme got here together with the BNA.

The implementation of any primary earnings or naked minimal financial assist is feasible solely via the casual sector participation. The federal government has to advertise casual sector for such earnings assist programmes. It might be an extension of informalisation of labour and the labour market.

In India, practically 83 % of the workforce is engaged in the casual sector. Social safety to casual sector staff remains to be an incomplete mission. So, in India, the essential want assist mission does imply closely relying on the casual sector with a fluctuating wage fee. (See desk 1)


The Indian casual sector operations are largely pushed by impartial initiatives and it’s fluctuating in itself. Any try to reinforce earnings may have two choices—first, employment era within the casual sector or direct money assist to needy. The second choice is unrealistic and it’s merely not attainable in a rustic like India, i.e.; common pension schemes, so the choice left is to depend upon the casual labour market.

The agricultural-urban divide can also be shrinking as regards to the casual sector and likewise there needs to be specific-sectoral method to casual sector. The classical definition of casual sector hardly suits into Indian actuality. India’s casual sector is extremely scattered and nonetheless provides naked minmum livelihood to hundreds of thousands of poor. Graph 1 reveals the sectoral contribution of non-agricultural casual sector work within the nation.

Buying and selling and different providers are providing extra alternatives apart from the manufacturing sector, and therefore the method needs to be sectoral-specific. Apparently, each Congress and the BJP hold silent on agricultural sector-focused earnings era. Although the federal government and political events deny, agriculture nonetheless provides earnings alternatives to hundreds of thousands within the rural space than different casual sector. The every day earnings distinction between agricultural sector and different casual sector proves that Indian political events neglect agriculture lots.

The every day earnings of agriculture sector declines after 2013-14, but agriculture provides alternatives of the agricultural work drive. See graph 2.


Any efficient earnings assist programme on this nation ought to begin from agriculture moderately than the overall casual labour market since agriculture by no means displaces labour. It could disguise unemployment and nonetheless it accommodates poor as labour.

The inception of the Nationwide Rural Employment Assure Scheme (NREGA) adjustments the casual sector and it offers a proper sector character to the employees. NREGA helped the political events to intervene within the rural labour with out making any promise of everlasting employment. It is true to state that it helped legitimise the casual labour market, and likewise make native self-government on the grass root degree to depend upon the casual labour market to advertise NREGA. So, the proposed earnings assist programme  by Congress hardly transfer past NREGA schemes and, there may be chance of ending these scheme as one other naked minimal welfare programme i.e minimal wage and minimal working days on the rural areas.

If the Congress is critical about welfare, the celebration ought to consider required minimal social safety moderately than minimal wage. The final 5 years of BJP rule proves that they by no means wished to interrupt the standard artwork of governing voters. It’s fallacious to anticipate extra from them and that is the dilemma of Indian political methods, which empower the events to determine the future of the poor and needy.

(The author is Assistant Professor, Jamsetji Tata Faculty of Catastrophe Research, Tata Institute of Social Sciences)

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