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Updated: January 10, 2013 08:40 IST

Cash transfer may hurt girls and kids, says Amartya Sen

Sandeep Joshi
Comment (9)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
Amartya Sen:
Amartya Sen: "We should not accept corruption on some fatalistic ground that this is the way things are in our country."

Eminent economist and Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen has said the Union government’s cash transfer scheme can be a useful system to supplement other ways of making India a less unequal society, “but it is not a magic bullet, and its pros and cons have to be assessed and scrutinized with an open mind.”

In an interview to The Hindu, Dr. Sen said the modality of cash transfer is not the only issue “but also how much, and for whom, and also, instead of what?”

He sounded a note of caution in cash transfer of food subsidies, saying direct access to food often helps reaching nutrition to children and girls. But when the subsidy is given as cash directly it may benefit adults and boys more due to biased social priorities in Indian society.

Dr. Sen said the transition delays in cash transfer could cause extreme hardship to people, many of whom lead a hand-to-mouth existence.

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Yes, the Direct Cash Transfer (DCT) is not with all the advantages but do have several limitations. Some such includes:
£ The reality at the ground is not matching to the requirements of DCT.
£ Cash alone cannot substitute for food, cloths and shelter.
£ The reach of DCT may not as per the expected targets.
£ Marginalization of Women and girls will be severe.
£ The priorities of the family may vary from critical needs to either
luxury or addictions.
£ It may increase the dependency on DCT rather than the livelihoods/
earnings.
£ Sustainability of the DCT and lapses puts the people at cross
roads.
£ May be DCT help to shed the responsibility on the people.
£ It may be like wait and see rather than having regular work plans.
Though the DCT is expected to minimize the COST of SERVICE DELIVERY which was expected quite high than the one expected to reach the people. In spite of all the limitations, DCT can be continued with corrective measures for better reach.

from:  Lakshmi Narayana Nagisetty
Posted on: Jan 10, 2013 at 19:37 IST

I find this direct cash transfer nothing more than a govt aided measure to improve the reach of E-commerce, there by other business can sell their product anywhere in India. This will also hold good for essentials such as gas, food, power while Making the Robust Public Distribution sector Obsolete. This also explains, the government's inability to stop corruption. Again, who decides, who should get money? In the end you will find govt. funded dowry marriage, govt. funded donation to private school, govt. funded first day first show and govt. funded TASMAC party. Remember how profitable TASMAC shop was, after Tsunami aid was given. I find absolutely no good use. If govt. really wants to help, let it help in Kind. Cash makes no sense and does no help. If giving cash, was so clever a choice, why other governments never opted for it. If govt. gonna claim its the technology, I can only say, little knowledge is dangerous.

from:  senthil
Posted on: Jan 10, 2013 at 18:28 IST

i am not in favour of your opinion what you have mentioned about
cash transfer scheme to poor children. if you would have visited and
analysed existing situation in society ,which reveals the dramatic
laid down plan of nutrition scheme for needy students . no body raise
question how much amounts a particular school is getting and how it
is being utilised by admistrators. i have observed admistrators are
more needy than children . it would be better idea to have
personal account for every students , which makes them to use that
amount directly without any kinds of intervention.

from:  chandan kumar
Posted on: Jan 10, 2013 at 13:51 IST

Dr. Sen is absolutely right on the issue of cash subsidy. In a country like India where the rural poor has no access to banks or knowledge of the banking system the money may not reach the desired ones. Further cash will be misued by the males in the household and the females will have to pay a price for that too. Any sibsidy in the form of food, clotes or other kind may reach the underprivelged than cash subsidy. Or else the cash should be given to trustworthy NGOs working for the welfare of the community who should be made accountable on cash transactions

from:  Siva
Posted on: Jan 10, 2013 at 10:23 IST


Most of the popular programmes in India are really political stunts to gain votes. And it works. That is our democracy is really a crony democracy.
Gopinathan Krishnan is a Scientist

from:  Gopinathan Krishnan
Posted on: Jan 10, 2013 at 07:05 IST

There is little to disagree with what Amratya Sen has said in this interview. However, two
observations are in order. Setting aside foreign companies investing in retail outlets in India,
one has to recognize the impact of large Indian houses investing in retail would also beg the
same questions. The retail sector suffers from low investment and very low wages for those
who work in it. This needs to change if the workers in this sector are to make a living wage.
While it would be great if every aspect of every public policy was to be carefully evaluated,
one has to wonder if that is always feasible or practical.
I am thankful to Amartya Sen for pointing out that, given preferred treatment of boys over girls and adults over children, any scheme that converts in- kind assistance, such as food, into cash will have to make sure that these biases do not victimize our daughters further. I thought GOI so far is talking only about making current cash payments thru a more effective mechanism.

from:  Virendra Gupta
Posted on: Jan 10, 2013 at 05:38 IST

Dr.Sen opens up the humane face of any schemes as that of non-polarisation. It is
true a neutral observation without political alienation is necessary in everything
Countries do. The party politics throws only two choices to people. like " cash
transfer right or not" "FDI in retail good or not". Most of the times the answer lies in between. I am glad , we have eminent people like Dr.Sen to showcase the fact. I feel the entire Political system that was originally created to discuss any issue from several angles has been hijacked by the political class to promote their own ambitious interests. Its true for all countries, but the degree of tweak is to the maximum in India,thus defeating the very purpose of Polity. Thats why the prior use of the word "hijack".In a hijacked situation, things happen as per the wishes of the hijackers. Thats what is happening to India. Edemocracy as discussed at twitter.com/edemocracyworld is the future as it addresses major problems of rep.democracy.

from:  Raj Subramanian
Posted on: Jan 10, 2013 at 02:32 IST

A wonderful piece of insight into recent development in India. As usual his views has been balanced, meaningful and fresh one.

from:  Sushil Kumar
Posted on: Jan 10, 2013 at 02:12 IST

There are three interesting questions posed here on the contemporary
policy issues and public awareness.
Dr. Sen has pointed out some really interesting things on the DBT
proposal made by the Central Government similar to a promise made by
Mr. Naidu of TDP in 2009 general elections though I would see both of
them as tricks to woo votes rather than legitimate attempts to solve
problems. While there are several issues related to public
distribution system, I do not know why on the earth would some one
thinks DBT as a solution instead of improving the system that we have
already in place with an iron hand on corruption. Cash in hand might
give flexibility to serve according to each family's own needs but it
may also lead to serve the alcoholics and increased family fights,
and, malnutrition..
It is being said again and again that small retailers will bear the
brunt of FDI in multi-brand retail but small farmers will be benefited
that do not have any scientific evidence so far.

from:  Kusam Prasanna
Posted on: Jan 10, 2013 at 02:06 IST
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