Social Security in India – Basic Income Scheme or NREGA?

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The unorganised labour force in India needs a robust and workable social security system.


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Social Security in India – Basic Income Scheme or NREGA?


The bulk of workers in India fall into the informal sector. With no pensions or other benefits, their jobs are not only vulnerable, they are precarious. Post-demonetisation, the expectations of people about an “India of their dreams” as promised by the PM in November 2016, are high. It is expected that the government will launch some universal basic income scheme, or simply a payout to the most vulnerable sections of society. However, in India which is struggling with a very poor tax to GDP ratio (16.5% approx.), this scheme may not be financially feasible. At present, the government of India has to spend money of essential services like – internal security, defence, currency management, external relations – and often finds itself poorly equipped to handle the present challenges of healthcare and infrastructure building. China has prospered dramatically as compared to India in the past 30 years, and India has a long way to catch up.
However, for long-term social stability, India definitely needs a strong basic income scheme. Some authors have recommended that instead of starting a new scheme, we can focus on the MGNREGA itself. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act – is about “employment”, but actually it is more of a handout (a dole) to those in dire need of money. [Refer Bodhi Resources for the Act]

NREGA was designed to ensure many things – only those who turn up for work will get the payment (otherwise funds may have been gobbled by local landlords), wage levels were slightly below minimum wage levels (so that there is a positive pressure of rural wages – otherwise workers will not turn up for regular wage work), etc. There have been criticisms of the government in trying to change the nature of the law from being universal to targeted. (work should be made available only in the most backward districts) etc. Even the Supreme Court had pulled up the government on this. If the government can revive MGNREGA, perhaps a basic income scheme will not be needed.

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भारत में सामाजिक सुरक्षा - मूलभूत आय योजना या मनरेगा?


भारत के बहुसंख्य श्रमिक अनौपचारिक या असंगठित क्षेत्र में आते हैं। यहाँ पेंशन (निवृत्ति वेतन) या अन्य लाभों के अभाव में जहाँ उनके कार्य न केवल अत्यंत भेद्य हैं बल्कि अत्यंत दयनीय हैं। विमुद्रीकरण के पश्चात, नवंबर 2016 में प्रधानमंत्री द्वारा किये गए वादे के अनुसार लोगों की “अपने सपनों के भारत” के बारे में अपेक्षाएं काफी अधिक हैं। ऐसा अनुमान है कि सरकार द्वारा कोई सार्वभौमिक मूलभूत आय योजना शुरू की जाएगी, या समाज के भेद्यतम वर्गों के लिए केवल एक भुगतान किया जाएगा। हालांकि भारत में, जो अत्यल्प कर-जीडीपी अनुपात (लगभग 16.5 प्रतिशत) से जूझ रहा है, संभव है कि यह योजना वित्तीय दृष्टि से व्यवहार्य न हो। वर्तमान में, भारत सरकार को आतंरिक सुरक्षा, रक्षा, मुद्रा प्रबंधन, विदेशी संबंध जैसी सेवाओं के लिए धन का व्यय करना पड़ता है और अक्सर सरकार स्वास्थ्य सुविधाओं और अधोसंरचना निर्माण की वर्तमान चुनौतियों से निपटने में स्वयं को अक्षम महसूस करती है। पिछले 30 वर्षों के दौरान भारत की तुलना में चीन ने नाटकीय रूप से विकास किया है, और उसके स्तर तक पहुँचने के लिए भारत को अभी लंबा रास्ता तय करना है।

हालांकि दीर्घकालीन सामाजिक स्थिरता के लिए भारत को निश्चित रूप से एक सशक्त मूलभूत आय योजना की आवश्यकता है। कुछ अधिकारियों ने सिफारिश की है कि एक नई योजना शुरू करने के बजाय हम एमजीएनआरईजीए पर ही ध्यान केन्द्रित कर सकते हैं। महात्मा गाँधी राष्ट्रीय ग्रामीण रोजगार गारंटी अधिनियम (
मनरेगा) - “रोजगार” से संबंधित है परंतु वास्तव में यह ऐसे व्यक्तियों को किया गया एक वितरण (खैरात) ही अधिक है जिन्हें धन की अत्यधिक आवश्यकता है [अधिनियम के लिए बोधि संसाधन का संदर्भ लें]

मनरेगा की रचना अनेक चीजें सुनिश्चित करने के लिए की गई थी - केवल उन्हीं व्यक्तियों को भुगतान किया जाएगा जो काम पर आते हैं (अन्यथा निधियों पर स्थानीय जमींदारों द्वारा कब्जा कर लिया जाता), मजदूरी का स्तर न्यूनतम मजदूरी के स्तर से कुछ कम था (ताकि ग्रामीण मजदूरी का सकारात्मक दबाव बना रहे - अन्यथा श्रमिक नियमित मजदूरी के काम के लिए नहीं आएँगे) इत्यादि। कानून के स्वरुप को सार्वभौमिक से परिवर्तित करके लक्षित बनाने के सरकार के प्रयास की आलोचना भी होती रही है। (काम केवल सर्वाधिक पिछड़े जिलों में ही उपलब्ध कराया जाए) इत्यादि। इसपर तो सर्वोच्च न्यायालय ने भी सरकार की खिंचाई की है। यदि सरकार एमजीएनआरईजीए को पुनर्जीवित करने में सफल हो जाती है तो मूलभूत आय योजना की आवश्यकता ही नहीं होगी।

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Bodhi Saar: Social Security in India – Basic Income Scheme or NREGA?
Social Security in India – Basic Income Scheme or NREGA?
The unorganised labour force in India needs a robust and workable social security system.
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