Two key players in UPA had a differing voice on unconditional cash transfer.
While Planning Commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia said that cash transfers can remove inefficiency in delivery of government benefits Rural Development minister Jairam Ramesh said it cannot be another "magic bullet" to solve all governance problems.
They were speaking at a workshop organised by civil society organisation SEWA to share findings of their study on conditional cash transfers in 22 villagers. Presence of Ahluwalia and Ramesh showed importance of cash transfer for the UPA government, which earlier this year introduced direct benefit transfer for 25 schemes involving pensions and scholarships.
"I think that the findings could dispel myths associated with conditional transfer," Ramesh said and added that business correspondents, who disburse money at door steps, was key for the DBT scheme to work well.
Sewa's study in Madhya Pradesh said that cash transfer can improve health, education, sanitation and financial inclusion of the beneficiaries. The money given to individuals in these 22 villages was not in place of existing government benefits. "It supplemented the income of the individuals," said Guy Standing of University of London, who was associated with the study.
Both Montek and Ramesh said that the study has posed some interesting questions which needs more debate and discussion and admitted that cash transfer was controversial in Indian context. "Cash transfer is something new on block and is highly controversial," Ahluwalia said.