Manju Garg Dhingra On NYAY

NYAY – ‘Easy Money Makes People Lazy’

Manju Garg Dhingra, 65, a retired banker in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, says Congress’ proposed Nyuntam Aay (NYAY) Scheme, which promises 6,000 a month to the poorest of the poor, may not work. She would prefer MNREGA scheme over NYAY so that people work for money and not live on dole.

I have been a banker with a nationalised bank and understand money pretty well. To my understanding the Nyuntam Aay (NYAY) Scheme plans to give ₹6,000 every month to the poorest families in India which is about five crore families or 25 crore individuals, constituting 20 percent of India’s population.

I feel such schemes ultimately don’t work in the long run in a democracy like India. In my many years of working as a banker I have realised that many of the poor people have what you call a ‘poverty mindset’. Yes, poverty is brought upon by terrible circumstances. But there are many people who are rather lazy and if you pay them say ₹6,000 per month, they would try and fit all their monthly expenses in that amount rather than use it as an investment to earn more money.

What we need is financial literacy in our country. People should be taught how to manage money. Earning money is often not that hard, managing money is. Remember the urban poor story that created quite an uproar in 2016?

This plan is different than what the Universal Basic Income (UBI) Schemes that are already in place in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. As per UBI, a small amount of money is paid every month to every citizen of a country, without any terms and conditions. This  basic income varies with age, but with no other conditions, so everyone of the same age would receive the same Basic Income, whatever their gender, employment status, family structure, contribution to society, housing costs, or anything else.

In 2014, when Narendra Modi said he would bring back black money from overseas and ₹15 lakh would be transferred into every individual’s account, I was less circumspect. The money would not have come from the taxpayer’s pocket, but schemes like NYAY will put the burden on the taxpayers. Many people would not want to go to work if money came easy. At the starting of my career, I often saw very poor women get peanuts in the name of pension. Out of empathy, I started giving them cash from my own pocket. Later those old women started behaving as if I owed them money and they were entitled to the extra cash I gave them. This is human nature, so I have my doubts about the NYAY scheme.

Rahul Gandhi has suggested that the money will be transferred to the account of women so that the chances of men drinking or gambling away the money is minimized. However, I think it would be better if the money was directly spent on improving the women’s lives directly by training them to earn money. Give me MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) any day over NYAY scheme. It is more important to teach people to fish.

Even if the NYAY scheme were to be implemented, it should be bound by a fixed tenure, say only one year, so that the women don’t become completely dependent on the money. The money anyway doesn’t reach the intended beneficiaries without middlemen eating away the money (as Rajiv Gandhi had famously mentioned in 1985 that only 15 paise of a rupee reaches the intended beneficiaries, while the rest is eaten away by middlemen).

As far as my vote is concerned, I would like to reinvest my faith in Narendra Modi. I live in Ghaziabad and for us true nyay (justice) lies in the fact that the crime rate has reduced, cleanliness and waste management are being taken very seriously and most importantly NH-24 is being maintained pretty well. Now evenings feel safer in Ghaziabad. I don’t find Rahul Gandhi as effective a leader as Modiji. Power commands respect. And sadly I don’t feel that respect for Rahul Gandhi. In the next five years, I would want Narendra Modi to do away with the many subsidies and schemes. He should let the respective state governments and then local area MLAs and MPs and ward members and councillors decide on the best way to bring out groups of people out of poverty. Let the grassroots leaders help the grassroots people. Delegation of duties and powers to local leaders and trusting them is very important if we really want to help the poor.

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NYAY – ‘Create Jobs, Avoid Freebies'

Arup Chatterjee, 34, a business development consultant from Bhopal, who worked in the UK for four years, believes India can learn from the British social security schemes. He warns that handing out freebies like NYAY will only make them dependent on the state; the solution lies in creating more jobs.

I lived and worked for almost four years in the United Kingdom and came back in 2015. In these few years, I have been able to observe how both the countries help their poor. Unlike the UK, India took a long time to cope with the after-effects of colonization. As a result, both socially and financially, India remains backwards. However, now it is time to put an end to this, and that can be brought about only through a change in mindset.  

In case of populist schemes like Congress’ Nyuntam Aay (NYAY), I feel they are a way of giving handouts to people, which in turn, makes them lazy. India has a huge population of beggars, who would remain beggars and will have no motivation to work if they get money from the government. Thus, I don’t have high hopes from the as of now.

ALSO READ: Easy Money Makes People Lazy

The people who could benefit from such a scheme are the ones who work in India’s unorganised sector. Demonetization dealt a severe blow to these people and rendered them jobless. But I guess they won’t be covered under the NYAY scheme as they don’t belong to the poorest 20% of the population. Rahul Gandhi should look at addressing the problem of the unorganised sector as a whole. I have heard that he has talked about filling up 22 lakh government job vacancies within a year, if voted to power. 

Social security schemes for all sections of society in the UK are well-structured and India can learn a lot from it. However, I have seen many people turn lazy in the UK because the government supports them so well. We Indians generally don’t follow discipline, for e.g. standing in lines, but when it comes to freebies, ‘mamla air bigad jata hai aur log uspe toot padte hain’ (things get worse and people will go up to any extent to avail them). We need a social change where people understand that the government is there to help you only after you have tried to help yourself — himmat-e-mard madadan khuda (God helps those who help themselves).  

Whichever government comes to power, it must think about job creation and addressing unemployment. Women are more financially astute and they should more involved in such policy that would require large sums of money to be taken out from the exchequer.

The BJP government had also launched the PM-KISAN Samman Nidhi Scheme, which gives ₹2,000 every quarter to farmers owning agricultural land of less than two hectares. This is quite low in comparison to ₹6,000 per month, but BJP knows how to advertise its schemes better, while Congress/Opposition doesn’t. 

I also read that NYAY is expected to cost the exchequer ₹3.6 trillion or around 1.7% of the forecasted gross domestic product (GDP) for 2019-20. However, former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has said that the cost will never cross 2% of the GDP. 

To put less burden on taxpayers, Congress is thinking about doing away with some subsidies as well as sharing the cost with state governments. Let’s see if it works, though I don’t have high hopes. 

Last time if I had got the chance to vote (because I was in the UK then) I would have voted for the BJP. However, this time despite seeing the tremendous infrastructural development around me, I am still to make up my mind whether to vote for it or not.

I am doing a lot of research before casting my precious vote and taking note of all facts and figures related to socio-economic development. Our city, Bhopal is known for communal harmony, but BJP is known for its divisive tactics and that is disturbing. I have seen people from all cultures coexisting peacefully during my stint in the UK and we need to bring back the thought of ‘unity in diversity’ in the mainstream to be happy as a country.

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