Left, civil society slam cash transfer
Say it is a bid to lure voters, cut subsidies
The Left and civil society are up in the arms against Aadhar-based direct cash transfer scheme, arguing that it was aimed at luring voters with an eye on the 2014 elections.
A day after the announcement of the details, the CPM, civil society organisations including the one led by Aruna Roy and Medha Patkar and newly formed Aam Aadmi Party, all have expressed strong opposition to the scheme.
The CPM described it as the government’s ''obsessive'' commitment to cut subsidies.
“The direct cash transfer scheme, described by the Congress as a ‘game changer’ is indeed a game changer whose rules are weighed against the poor, in favour of the UPA-2 government’s obsessive commitment to cut subsidies to the working people,” said the CPM Politburo.
''The CPM strongly opposes such a policy shift away from provision of foodgrain, kerosene, fertilizers etc instead of providing for a universal PDS at controlled prices,” says the statement.
The party has also objected to pushing through such changes without any debate on proposed bill on UID (Unique Identification). Arvind Kejriwal termed it a bribe to voters.
Activists gathered at Jantar Mantar at New Delhi for ‘People’s Assembly’ under the leadership of Aruna Roy, Medha Patkar, Baba Adhav and Annie Raja, turned the assembly a venue for opposition to the scheme.
“This is being done at the behest of the World Bank and the forces, which are for globalisation of Indian economy,” asserted Patkar. Aruna Roy questioned the logic of trying to reduce corruption through the use of technology.
“The system of disbursing wages through post offices and bank accounts could not stop corruption in MGNREGS. Now, they will have our name and identity in their database, they can erase whenever they like,” she said.
Subhash Lomte, leader of unorganized labour from Maharashtra, said the scheme would result in increased hardship for unorganised workers. “The government will give cash based on the price fixed by it, but the market price would not be the same,” he said.
UID under severe attack
The announcement of direct cash transfer scheme has initiated a renewed attack on UID and Nandan Nilekani, the chief of UID Authority of India.
The Citizen’s Forum of Civil Liberties, which has been in the forefront of opposing UID, was relentlessly critical of Nilekani.
“The government, after pushing FDI, is in a hurry to offer this to foreign companies as a sop for investment,” said noted consumer activist V K Somasekhar. He accused the UIDAI chief of pursuing interests of foreign companies.
Somashekhar quoted from the speeches of Nilekani and the chief of Nielson India at a conference organised by the marketing research company in December 2010 and alleged that Nilekani assured them a market place through UID. The chief of Nielson India has been quoted saying that UID will help in “understanding the habits, needs and desires of consumers on a national scale.” Mathew Thomas of Fifth State raised security concerns, “one of UIDAI contractors provides intelligence services to the US government and another one was prosecuted in US for false claims and kickbacks.”