Deciphering Congress' NYAY

Deciphering NYAY
This refers to the commonsense approach to NYAY in Karan Thapar’s piece “Congress’ NYAY: Unanswered questions” (Business Standard, As I see it, April 1). As a “Minimum Income Guarantee Scheme” is an idea worth pursuing, the debate on NYAY may survive this election, irrespective of Congress’ fortunes.
As part of his sales talk for promoting his new book “Third Pillar” Dr Raghuram Rajan was also seen justifying NYAY (Hindi word for justice), making the common man wondering whether he is still on theory and doesn’t want to go deep into the ground level realities of ‘poverty cultivation’ in India, even after his research for writing the “Third Pillar”. In India the system is apparently comfortable to retain a target ‘catchment area’ of people below poverty line poor and illiterate, to ensure availability of cheap labour (now rechristened as ‘outsourced work’) in different sectors. It is in this context that we are prepared to dole out a portion of taxpayers’ money to keep a ‘reserve’ of illiterate and idle people who will be available on call at starvation wages to do unskilled work without any demand for fair wages.
The arithmetic which is making Karan Thapar uncomfortable may be ignored by the common man and any word uttered against NYAY is likely to be interpreted as a criticism against the proposal for ‘Minimum Income Guarantee’ which is a noble concept.
Like the Employment Guarantee Schemes already in operation there is a case for a comprehensive scheme, if possible outside the government budgets, having the following features:
(i)                            Target beneficiaries should be from outside those covered by existing statutory schemes for social security, and those who are in the employable age group. Say, 20 to 60 age group considering all skilled/unskilled jobs for which they will be available on call. The prospective beneficiaries can be asked to register with Employment Registers or Special Desks created for the purpose in offices of Municipal Corporations or LSG Offices.
(ii)                         The payment should be to unemployed members of families which have no earning members with income over a pre-decided threshold limit and limited to the real gap between the threshold level and the actual.
(iii)                       The funding could be from a corpus created by contributions from prospective employers who will benefit from the skill development initiatives and the availability of candidates with identified skills. While employment is provided through the scheme, a fixed percentage of the wages matched by an equal contribution from the employer could be retained for post-job social security of the beneficiaries.
 M G Warrier, Mumbai


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