Income as wage for work: Minimum Income Guarantee

 ‘Fiscal system must be prepared for Minimum Income Guarantee scheme’ - Business Line
My response:

Income as wage for work 
This refers to the report “Fiscal system must be prepared for Minimum Income Guarantee Scheme” (Business Line, March 29). Dr Raghuram Rajan’s effort to justify NYAY even after his research for writing the “Third Pillar” leaves an impression that he is still on theory and doesn’t want to go deep into the ground level realities of ‘poverty cultivation’ in India. In India the system is still 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.
This is not a criticism against the proposal for ‘Minimum Income Guarantee’. 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.
(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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