Strongly criticising the UPA’s Direct Cash Transfer scheme, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has said that the basic philosophy behind the initiative is to dismantle the government’s obligations in the social sector.
Cash transfers will automatically and continuously reduce the government’s subsidy bill. This is so because as prices rise, the quantities available to people get reduced in proportion to the cash transferred, the CPI(M) has said in the latest edition of People’s Democracy.
“In its desire to keep the fiscal deficit as low as possible, the UPA-II government is introducing this scheme which is an effective and efficient way of reducing subsidies. Further, in this era of neo-liberalisation, privatisation of all welfare schemes and earlier governmental obligations in areas such as education and health is to be legalised for private profit maximisation. This direct cash/benefits transfer scheme is, thus, another opening for merciless, primitive accumulation of capital at the expense of the vast majority of our people,” it said.
‘Bribe to people’
Pointing out that the initial announcement made by the Finance Minister from the Congress office drew the ire of the Election Commission as the announcement came during the Gujarat Assembly elections, the editorial said it was called the Direct Cash Transfer scheme under the slogan “Aap ka paisa, aap ke haath,” which appeared as a bribe to the people, keeping the 2014 general elections in mind, the government seems to have changed the title of the scheme. Even this high-profile launch has been scaled down from the initial 43 districts to 20 and will cover only a select 26 Central schemes like widow pension, educational scholarships for SC/STs, OBCs, and minorities. Food, fertilizers and kerosene are being kept out of the coverage for the moment. The scheme is slated to be extended to cover all subsidies gradually.
Saying that the scheme is yet to be approved through a law enacted by Parliament as “The National Identification Authority of India Bill 2010,” was still pending, the editorial said the Parliamentary Standing Committee had refused to accept it in its present form. It pointed to the contradictions and ambiguities within the government on its implementation as well as implications. The data already collected by the UIDAI may be transferred to the National Population Register [NPR], if the government so chooses. The committee had urged the government to “reconsider and review the UID scheme as also the proposals contained in the Bill in all its ramifications and bring forth a fresh legislation before Parliament.”