Ever since the announcement of NYAY, the Nyuntam Aay Yojana, the internet is abuzz with news related to the minimum income guarantee scheme, which the Congress party claims to be a surgical strike against poverty.
Though only a little information has been shared about the scheme, all we now know is that it will provide a minimum income to 20 per cent of the poorest families, benefiting 25 crore poor in the country. If implemented, each of these families will get Rs 6000 per month.
With experts debating the pros and cons of the scheme, ISB Professor Bhagwan Chowdhry 'spilled' a few more details about the scheme in a social media post. Though coming up with an idea to alleviate poverty is difficult, implementation is even harder. Enter Prof Chowdhry.
In a Facebook post, Chowdhry revealed that the Congress party has asked him to become the chief Income Determinator - or d'Terminator for the NYAY scheme.
"My job will be to determine each poor household's true income (making sure they are not lying and they don't quit their jobs just to get the money) by devising a sophisticated FinTech Artificial Intelligence program in collaboration with Google and Microsoft - Sundar Pichai and Satya Nadella are on board," he wrote in the post. To make his job easier, he added that district collectors will form different teams to assist him thus generating thousands of additional jobs.
Calling this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Chowdhry asked if he should take up the job. After seeking everyone's blessings, he requested that they let him know by Monday as that was when he had to make his decision.
Ah! Monday. April 1. Yes, Prof Chowdhry was only exercising his creative juices ahead of April Fool's Day. TNIE reached out to Chowdhry since he was at his imaginative best and decided to find out his real views on NYAY.
Over to the Professor on how he would make it work.
"The idea of income determination implies bureaucratic and corruption mess. Also, what is a household, husband, wife and children? What if they are separated? Direct cash transfer makes sense but it should be unconditional to avoid these messy implementation issues. The middle class and the rich, if they are paying taxes, can be left out of the scheme. Others who are not in the tax system (but earn well above those whom the scheme hopes to help) could be persuaded to voluntarily give up these (NYAY) benefits," Chowdhry explains.
He elaborates that people can be convinced to give up these benefits with campaigns similar to 'give up the LPG subsidy.'
"Once unconditional cash transfers are implemented, other subsidies can be eliminated. This will make it fiscally feasible," he added.
When asked if this meant that he was ready to implement it, he promptly said no, adding it is a terrible idea in its current form.
The Congress party's aspirational scheme to terminate poverty has exercised the imagination of the nation ever since it was announced. To emphasise the seriousness of the move, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi let it be known that the party had consulted with economists including Raghuram Rajan before announcing it.