'Cash transfer for BPL not feasible'

Cash transfer for public schemes is a “terrible lie”, said activists at a meeting held at Jantar Mantar on Wednesday.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat said that if one compared India with African countries, India would beat them in terms of poverty.

“The government is not willing to tax business tycoons and is making the common man suffer by cutting down subsidies,” she said. Karat added that her party has asked the government not to link Unique Identification Number or Adhaar cards with schemes for the poor like NREGA and others.

“If I am an NREGA worker and my fingerprints change after six months due to the work I do, I will not be able to avail any benefit under the Adhaar card,” she said.

The CPI(M) has also demanded a hike in scholarships and pension for widows and the elderly. Lawyer and activist Usha Ramanathan said the government has declared in a public document that fingerprint and iris (of the eye) authentication for UID is unscientific.

She said in Kerala, children are now being forced to get a UID to get admission in schools. Activist Aruna Roy said Rajasthan has made it mandatory for the working class to get Adhaar cards to work under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. “If we are forced to get UIDs, our identity will be in crisis as we will be tracked. Our bank accounts will be tracked,” she said.

Economist Ritika Khera also questioned the efficacy of the cash transfer system. “The government was blindly imitating countries like Brazil without realising that the latter has fewer poor people and is far more urbanised with a robust banking system,” she said.
Delhi-based jhuggi-jhopri residents said if cash transfer is successful, getting adequate ration will become a far-fetched dream.

“If we get cash, our husbands will buy liquor instead of ration. Most families will use it for emergency situations. We don’t want cash because even shopkeepers will hike prices to make more profit. We want our 35 kg of ration,” said Pushpa, a daily wage earner in Delhi.

Kejriwal calls it a bribe

Land acquisition and corruption will be among a string of issues to be highlighted by Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party, which on Wednesday described the UPA government's decision to launch direct cash transfer scheme as a bribe to voters, reports PTI.

After a two-day meeting of AAP’s National Executive which took several decisions about future plans, Kejriwal also said the expose on corruption will continue even as it will target price rise and power issue in the national capital.

Commenting on the cash transfer scheme, he said the scheme may end up in stopping “some leakages” but on several counts it is not desirable.

“The timing is questionable. This is a way of giving bribe to voters,” he told reporters when asked about the government's decision to launch its new flagship programme of direct cash transfer from January 1 next year. Though it would stop some leakages, he said the decision raises several questions.

He said the rationale is wrong in ending public distribution system and giving cash to people. “You end ration and give them cash. This does not take into account price rise,” he said. On the issues to be taken by his party, Kejriwal said land acquisition, corruption, ensuring fair price for farmers, labour issues, including that of contract labour, will be high on priority.

“In Delhi, we will raise price rise and power related issues,” he said. Kejriwal said the party will form district committees in 337 districts of the 15 states by January 26 and committees at state-level by mid-February.

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