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 chief ministers of all states asking for a series of measures including a Rs 3.6 lakh crore cash support for families who are not in the tax net or who have a member working for the formal sector.
The letter said that the central and state governments together should immediately think of ensuring “a minimum transfer of at least Rs 6000 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.
Earlier, the government had announced some grants including Rs 2000 from the PM Kisan scheme to farmers and Rs 1000 grant to senior citizens, poor widows and poor disabled etc.
But the group which includes Lord Meghnad Desai well-known economist, Dr. Rakesh Mohan, former Deputy Governor, RBI, Dr. Abhjit Sen, former Planning Commission Member, Prof. Deepak Nayyar, Former Chief Economic Advisor, Sujata Rao, former Union Health Secretary; Amitabh Pandey, former Secretary, Interstate Council and Dr. Ajit Ranade, Chief Economist, Aditya Birla Group, feel 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 of the Centre for Regional Studies, JNU.
Though the centre has promised 5 kg of free cereals to the poor, the group feels 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 centre and state use their facilities to house them without over-crowding and start community feeding programs.
Among other things, the letter seeks a scheme to compensate the unorganized and MSME sector for payment of wages to contract and temporary employees during the lockdown.
"No needy person or household remains outside the social protection net being created to cope with the current calamitous conditions," it said.