Top economists, civil servants write to PM seeking more cash transfers, food rations for poor

The group also estimates that some 40-50 million migrant labourers are currently unemployed and want to head back to their villages.

Published: 02nd April 2020 10:09 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd April 2020 10:09 AM   |  A+A-

Money, notes, rupee

For representational purpose. (Photo | Sindhu Chandrasekaran)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Some of India’s top economists, civil servants and social scientists have written a joint letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as to the chief ministers of all states asking for a series of measures including Rs 3.6 lakh crore in cash support for families who are not in the tax net or have a member working for the formal sector.

The letter says that the central and state governments together should immediately think of ensuring “a minimum transfer of at least Rs 6,000 per month to each Jan Dhan Yojana  woman account holder with a major part borne by the Central Government over the next three months.” With 20 crore estimated beneficiary families for 3 months the figure works out to Rs 3.6 lakh crore.

The government has announced some grants including Rs 2,000 from the PM Kisan scheme to farmers and a Rs 1,000 grant to senior citizens, poor widows and poor disabled, etc.

But, the group which includes well known economist Meghnad Desai, former RBI Deputy Governor Rakesh Mohan, former Planning Commission Member Abhjit Sen, former Chief Economic Advisor Deepak Nayyar, former Union Health Secretary Sujata Rao, former Interstate Council Secretary Amitabh Pandey and Ajit Ranade, Chief Economist, Aditya Birla Group, feels more needs to be done.

“The direct benefit transfers announced was a step forward, but we need to do more. The Telangana example is a good one where the state is trying to reach out on a wider scale without excluding anyone,” explained Ravi Srivastava, former Chairman, Centre for Regional Studies, JNU

Though the centre has promised 5 kg of free cereals to the poor, the group feels that in order to ward off hunger “all state governments should ensure that at least 10 kg free rations per person per month, along with other necessary items, is available for all eligible households.”

The group also estimates that some 40-50 million migrant labourers are currently unemployed and want to head back to their villages. It suggests that the Centre and states could use their facilities to house them without over-crowding and start community feeding programs.

Among other things, they also seeks a scheme to compensate unorganised and MSME sector players for wages of contract and temporary employees during the lockdown, besides ex gratia payments, to ensure that “no needy person or household remains outside the social protection net being created to cope with the current calamitous conditions.”


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