Public distribution system and government machinery sagging under corruption and inefficiency yearn for revival and direct cash transfer would be the game changer, atleast if our finance minister is to be believed. Ofcourse, if more hands exchange money or goods, more is the leakage. And as Rajiv Gandhi once said, for every Rs 100 given, only 15 reaches the actual beneficiary. With inflation and every increasing corruption, today hardy Re 1 trickles down to the target consumer. With Direct Cash Transfer scheme, government strives to plug-in this loop hole. In the first phase of cash transfer scheme, government has decided to roll out this scheme in 51 districts covering 29 government schemes. Under this scheme, cash benefits would directly be transferred to the beneficiaries account. For example, those entitled for subsidized LPG, would directly get the difference in market price into their account. Given so many advantages of the scheme, how can it be a poll gimmick? Well answer is not far to fetch.
1) Undue hurry in Implementation
Government seems to be in undue haste in pushing this scheme into action. While the money is to be transferred to Adhaar associated bank account, only 1/6th of the population actually has an Adhaar card at present. And this figure dips dismally in rural India, how then can governmnet roll out this scheme in less than a month?
2)Timing of Announcement
Sheer timing of announcement raises suspicion. Government could have clearly avoided such announcement when model code of conduct is enforced and states of Gujarat and HP are bound to polls. Even election commission has taken cognizance of this fact and has directed the government not to implement this scheme in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. This would mean that 4 districts of Gujarat and 2 of HP which were to be covered in phase 1, can now be taken up only after elections.
3)An Eye on 2014 General Election
Congress has claimed the direct cash transfer scheme is inline with its 2009 poll manifesto. No doubt, congress has full right to keep its promises and legislate policies as per its manifesto. But if the subsidy mechanism and PDS is so inefficient and this was known to government since 2009, why did it it wait till the eve of general elections to swing to action. Is this an attempt to put curtails to all corruption charges? Is congress suddenly trying to project itself as reformist? Is direct cash transfer an attempt to bribe the voters?
In male dominant Indian Society if money in directly wired to the account, male members can misuse the money in gambling. drinking or other amusements especially in rural India. Well, neither one can blame government, nor can government ensure judicious use of the cash. But this remains the most critical roadblock in the success of the scheme.
Still in remote villages, banks are hard to locate and shops are scarce. While Public Distribution Channels are closed down, government should ensure that even the remotest part of India has resources available in close proximity. While government is providing cash directly, it is equally important to ensure that essential resources are available in close proximity.
6)Awareness regarding Banking operation
Most of these schemes are meant for rural population, who never had enough savings, so as to bother to open a bank account. Drives to spread awareness about banking operations and to inculcate habit of saving is must before implementing direct cash transfer. Else government would end up giving horses to cyclists.
7)Is direct cash transfer incorruptible
All benefits of Cash Tranfer listed out by government assume that corruption occurs in distribution channels only. What if beneficiaries are identified wrongly? What if political heavy weights influence cash transfer schemes to benefit their acquaintances. With undue hurry, errors are bound to creep in.
No doubt direct cash transfer scheme is a revolutionary and visionary step forward, which would curb corruption and leakages. But intentions of the government are dubious. It appears more interested in votes than doing any good.Apprehensions of common man are well reflected in what Anna Hazare has to say for this scheme- “it is not going to help poor. This thing has been brought with an eye on upcoming polls that are going to be held. This scheme will specially help party cadres, not people,“
We, at present don’t have enough infrastructure to seamlessly put this scheme into action. Why then are we endorsing a half baked scheme? If we still push through this scheme, we would either fail utterly or end up with a bigger scam. Congress needs to realise that if it revives the distribution channel or eradicates corruption, votes would automatically come by. To see an ambitious scheme as this fail or turn into inglorious scam; is the last thing that congress would want in this eleventh hour. Direct cash transfer scheme is a potential game changer, please don’t turn it into a poll gimmick!!!
Its NOW or NEVER!!