India is a poor country. There are still many people who go to bed hungry. This sob story, many generations of economists and policy makers have themselves occupied to write and rewrite the story in order to assert their claim of genuine effort to eradicate it.
Indian economy although diversified, but depends on rural sector to control food inflation and create demand for industrial goods and services. More than 70% of the Indian population live in the villages, which are more than half a billion. This huge settlement of agrarian population are more often deprived of their right to minimum remuneration for their labor. This holds to true for the large number of displaced population living in urban slums without any hope of being redeemed from poverty. Many income schemes launched by the central governments are known to have marginal effect; National Rural Livelihood Mission, The Fight Hunger First Initiative (FHFI) Program (2011),Food Security Bill (2013), Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojna (2015), Farm Loan Waiver (2016-2018), 10% Quota to Economically Weaker Sections (2019).
Poor people are everywhere. In reality poverty is denied and poor people are shunned everywhere and every time. During election time, they become the king makers. Appeasing the poor with many daily useful commodities like saris, gold jewelry, hard cash, free liquor are common things. Every political party is trying to outcompete the other.
Poor people seemed to have shifted their mindset to something more tangible. The politicians have gathered this. Free liquor and super subsidized rice, saris, during pre election campaign will make a dent.
The BJP had toyed with this idea of providing a minimum income for the poor, that could be possible without running up a huge fiscal deficit. Rahul Gandhi has made it public the impossible, providing a minimum income of Rs.72000 per year to 20% of the poorest of the poor families by transferring the cash to their bank accounts. Rahul Gandhi has estimated 250 million people will be benefited. He doesnot know that the number of people in poverty is not actually estimated properly. In a country of 1.3 billion and rising, more than 0.4 billion not 0.25 billion are need to basic amenities. Rs.6000 per month as per the price index is peanuts to a poor family of four to cover all the basic expenses. At least twice the amount is required to just suffice. If that should be the case the expenses would be around Rs.4.8 billion. Will his be tolerated on the budget deficit?
Rahul Gandhi’s ambition to become prime minister is justified. However, his ability to deliver the poor people out of poverty is preposterous. Empty promises will boomerang very severely on these kind of politicians who do not assess the capability before jumping into conclusions.