Minimum Income Guarantee: A Utopian Ladder?

The wave of competitive populism is throwing in its daily tide of game-changing ideas, and a preemptive dose of doles to outbid each other. The only winner can be the ones who have shown the patience of queuing up in election after election, and casting a vote to elect the few. The latest being the idea of Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG), as proposed by Congress President Rahul Gandhi. From ‘Garibi Hatao’, a downright winner five decades ago, back to ‘Minimum Income’ now, the semantics might have changed, but the goal remains the same.

Though the latest data suggests that India might have pulled almost 80 percent of its population out of abject poverty in the last decade, there is no denying the fact that in the same period, we have ‘achieved’ an increase in inequality, more than any other country.
How Helpful Will ‘Direct Income Transfer’ Be?
The millions of people living at the bottom tier essentially require the State’s support, to live a life of dignity. The Modi government has made a move in this direction just before the general elections, by making a provision of Rs 75,000 crore for 12 crore farmers in the next financial year, under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme (announced in the interim budget).

Building on the existing infrastructure created by JAM (Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile), the government is all set for direct income transfer of an initial amount of Rs 2,000 to 10 crore farmers who have a landholding of less than 2 acres in the present quarter. However, the income guarantee of Rs 6,000 per year is far less than the income support provided by Odisha and Telangana, which is Rs 10,000 per year, and Rs 8,000 per acre per year, respectively.

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