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Cash Transfers and UID: Essential Demands

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  • Sukla Sen
    Please find attached a statement on cash transfers, UID and food security signed by more than 200 persons, including academics from different fields,
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 26, 2012
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      Please find attached a statement on cash transfers, UID and food security signed by more than 200 persons, including academics from different fields, activists, civil liberty groups, scientists, theatre persons and many more.  Please help with circulating to the media - print, social, electronic.

      Cash Transfers and UID: Essential Demands


      We support cash transfers such as old age pensions, widow pensions, maternity entitlements and scholarships. However, we oppose the government’s plan for accelerated mass conversion of welfare schemes to UID-driven cash transfers. This plan could cause havoc and massive social exclusion. We demand the following:


      1. No replacement of food with cash under the Public Distribution System.


      The PDS is a vital source of economic security and nutrition support for millions of people. It should be expanded and consolidated, not dismantled.


      2. Immediate enactment of a comprehensive National Food Security Act, including universal PDS.


      Instead of diverting the public’s attention with promises of mass cash transfers before the 2014 elections, the government should redeem its promise to enact a National Food Security Act (NFSA).


      3. Cash transfers should not substitute for public services.


      While some cash transfer schemes are useful, they should complement, notsubstitute for the provision of public services such as health care, school education, water supply, basic amenities, and the PDS. These services remain grossly under-funded.


      4. Expand and improve appropriate cash transfers without waiting for UID.


      There is no need to wait for UID to expand and improve positive cash transfer schemes such as pensions, scholarships and maternity entitlements. For instance, social security pensions should be increased and universalized.


      5. No UID enrolment without a legal framework.


      Millions of people are being enrolled for UID without any legal safeguards. The UIDAI’s draft bill has been rejected by a parliamentary standing committee. UID enrolment should be halted until a sound legal framework is in place.


      6. All UID applications should be voluntary, not compulsory.


      UID should never be a condition for anyone to access any entitlements or public services. A convenient alternative should always be available.


      7. UID should be kept out of the PDS, NREGA and other essential entitlement programmes for the time being.


      Essential services are not a suitable field of experimentation for a highly centralised and uncertain technology. Other applications (e.g. to tax evasion) should be tried first.


      Explanatory Note:

      Why we Oppose the Rush to Cash Transfers and UID


      We support cash transfers such as old age pensions, widow pensions, maternity entitlements and scholarships. In fact, many of us have been part of struggles to expand social security pensions and improve their delivery. We also support appropriate, people-friendly uses of modern technology for this purpose.


      However, we have serious reservations about the government's rush to link these cash transfers to “Aadhaar”, the unique identity (UID) number. This is because the linking of these schemes can cause huge disruption – think of an old man who is currently getting his pension from the local post office, but will now have to run around getting his “UID-enabled” bank account activated and then may find his pension held up by fingerprints problems, connectivity issues, power failures, truant “business correspondents”, and what not.


      We are also firmly opposed to the introduction of cash transfers in lieu of food and other commodities supplied through the Public Distribution System, for many reasons. One, subsidized food from the PDS is a source of food and economic security for millions of poor families. In 2009-10, implicit transfers from the PDS wiped out about one fifth of the “poverty gap” at the national level, and close to one half of it in states like Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh. Recent experience also shows that it is possible to further revamp and reform the PDS without delay.


      Two, the banking system in rural areas is not ready to handle large volumes of small transfers. Banks are often far and overcrowded. The alleged solution, banking correspondents, is fraught with problems. Post offices could possibly be converted into useful payment agencies, but this will take time.


      Three, rural markets are often poorly developed. Dismantling the PDS would disrupt the flow of food across the country and put many people at the mercy of local traders and middlemen.


      Four, there are concerns of special groups such as single women, disabled persons and the elderly who cannot easily move around to withdraw their cash and buy food from distant markets.


      Last but not least, inflation could easily erode the purchasing power of cash transfers. When the government refuses to index pensions or NREGA wages, how can it be trusted to index cash transfers to the price level? Even if some indexation does happen, small delays or gaps in price information could cause significant hardship for poor people.


      The Kotkasim fiasco is a telling example of the potentially disruptive effects of inappropriate cash transfer schemes. The experiment was launched with much fanfare and immediately projected as a “stunning success” based on the fact that kerosene subsidy expenditure had declined by 80%, but in fact, the main reason for this decline was the collapse of the entire kerosene distribution system.


      An impression has been created that the government is all set to launch UID-enabled cash transfers on a mass scale before the 2014 elections. This is very misleading, and looks like an attempt to make people rush to UID enrolment centres. This announcement also diverts attention from the government’s failure to enact a National Food Security Act. The food security bill, very weak in the first place, has been languishing with a Standing Committee for a whole year. Meanwhile, food stocks are accumulating on an unprecedented scale. The need of the hour is a comprehensive National Food Security Act, not a potentially disruptive rush for UID-driven cash transfers.


      List of Signatories

      1. Sunil Abraham, Centre for Internet and Society

      2. Pushpa Achanta, Writer

      3. Bina Agarwal, Professor, Institute of Economic Growth

      4. Samantha Agarwal, Activist, Raipur

      5. Ankita Aggarwal, Researcher, New Delhi

      6. Ashutosh Agrawal, Student

      7. Anivar Aravind, Entrepreneur, Technology Manager

      8. Chirashree Das Gupta, Ambedkar University

      9. Indu Agnihotri, Director, Centre for Women’s Development Studies

      10. Sohail Akbar, Associate Professor, Jamia Milia Islamia

      11. Evangeline Anderson-Rajkumar, United Theological College Bangalore

      12. Janki Andharia, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

      13. Sadhna Arya, University of Delhi and Saheli Women's Resource Centre

      14. K.V. Nagesh Babu, Assistant Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

      15. Amiya Kumar Bagchi, Vice Chancellor, Tripura University

      16. Megha Bahl Student, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi

      17. Arindam Banerjee, Jawaharlal Nehru University

      18. Arindam Banerjee, Assistant Professor, Ambedkar University

      19. Sreshtha Banerjee, Social Activist

      20. Sanjay (Xonzoi) Barbora, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (Guwahati)

      21. Kripa Basnyat, PWESCR, Programme on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

      22. Moushumi Basu, Associate Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University

      23. Akansha Batra, Junior Research Fellow, Indian Statistical Institute

      24. Anjali Bhardwaj, Satark Nagrik Sangathan

      25. Bharat Bhatti, Student, Ambedkar University

      26. Kiran Bhatty, Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research

      27. Praful Bidwai, Journalist

      28. Ramila Bisht, Associate Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University

      29. Arudra Burra

      30. Kathyayini Chamaraj, Journalist

      31. C.P. Chandrashekhar, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University

      32. Sarika Chaturvedi, Ph D scholar, Karolinska Institute, Sweden

      33. Aheli Chowdhury, JOSH, Delhi

      34. Arati Choksi, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Bangalore

      35. Gowru Chinnapa, Bangalore

      36. Priti Darooka, PWESCR, Programme on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

      37. Jitu Das, Alghanim Industries

      38. Asit Das

      39. Anirban Dasgupta, South Asia University

      40. Jashodhara Dasgupta, National Alliance for Maternal Health and Human Rights

      41. Saurav Datta

      42. Ashwini Deshpande, Professor, Delhi School of Economics

      43. Ritu Dewan, Mumbai University

      44. Nikhil Dey, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan

      45. Harish Dhawan, Associate Professor in Economics, University of Delhi

      46. Arundhati Dhuru, National Alliance of People’s Movements

      47. Gabriele Dietrich, National Alliance of People's Movements

      48. Sarah Dobinson, PWESCR Programme on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

      49. Jean Drèze, Visiting Professor, Allahabad University

      50. Ajit Eapen

      51. Warisha Farasat, Lawyer

      52. Jayati Ghosh, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University

      53. Kaveri Gill, Independent researcher

      54. S. S. Gill,  Director General, CRRID, Chandigarh

      55. Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Journalist

      56. Aashish Gupta, Research Assistant, Allahabad University

      57. Ruchi Gupta, National Campaign for People's Right to Information

      58. Zoya Hasan, Professor, Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University

      59. Neeraj Hatekar, Professor, Department of Economics, University of Mumbai

      60. Rohini Hensman, Independent scholar and author

      61. Himanshu, Assistant Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University

      62. Danish Husain, Actor

      63. Indira C, Researcher Public Health, Delhi

      64. Kaveri Rajaraman Indira, Concern, Indian Institute of Science

      65. Jaya Iyer, Khadya Nyaya Abhiyan

      66. Devaki Jain

      67. K.P. Jayasankar, Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

      68. Praveen Jha, Jawaharlal Nehru University

      69. Sadan Jha, Assistant Professor, Centre for Social Studies, Surat

      70. Ravinder Jha, Miranda House, University of Delhi

      71. Rajiv Jha, Shri Ram College of Commerce, University of Delhi

      72. Amrita Johri, Satark Nagrik Sangathan

      73. Sunny Jose, Associate Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

      74. Aleesha Mary Joseph, Student, St. Stephen's College

      75. Deep Joshi

      76. Vijay Lakshmi Joshi, People’s Union for Civil Liberties

      77. K. P. Kannan, Chairman, Lawry Baker Institute of Habitat Studies, Thiruvantanthapuram

      78. Anirban Kar, Associate Professor, Delhi School of Economics

      79. Ashok Khandelwal, Economist

      80. Madhulika Khanna, Researcher, New Delhi

      81. Sushil Khanna, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta

      82. Reetika Khera, Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi

      83. Asha Kilaru, Public Health Researcher, Bangalore

      84. Ashish Kothari, Kalpavriksh

      85. Subasri Krishnan, Filmmaker

      86. Kavita Krishnan, CPI(ML) Liberation

      87. Abhay Kumar, Karnataka

      88. Richa Kumar, Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.

      89. Awanish Kumar, Ph.D. Scholar, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

      90. Madhuresh Kumar, National Alliance of People’s Movements

      91. A.K. Shiva Kumar, Economist

      92. Lawrence Liang, Alternative Law Forum

      93. Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Advocate

      94. Neeraj Malik, University of Delhi

      95. Anubhuti Maurya, Bharati College, University of Delhi

      96. Surajit Mazumdar

      97. Indrani Mazumdar, Centre for Women's Development Studies

      98. Bhanwar Meghvanshi, Dalit Adivasi Aur Ghumantu Adhikar Abhiyan, Rajasthan

      99. Subhash Mendhapurkar, SUTRA, Himachal Pradesh

      100. Aggie Menezes, Associate Professor, St Xavier's College

      101. Mira Mehta, Department of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Maryland

      102. Kalpana Mehta, Manasi Swasthya Sansthan, Indore

      103. Ritambhara Mehta, Independent Researcher

      104. Nivedita Menon, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University

      105. Rajkishore Mishra, Orissa

      106. Srijith Mishra, Associate Professor, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research

      107. Gautam Mody, Secretary, New Trade Union Initiative

      108. Mritiunjoy Mohanty, Professor, Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta

      109. Sanat Mohanty, Associate Professor, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi

      110. Anjali Monteiro, Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

      111. Vipul Mudgal, Inclusive Media for Change, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies

      112. Prakriti Mukerjee, Yoda Press

      113. Poonam Muttreja, Population Foundation of India

      114. Tithi Nandy, Healthwatch Forum Uttar Pradesh

      115. R. Nagaraj, Professor, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research

      116. Farah Naqvi, Writer and Activist

      117. Sudha Narayanan, Assistant Professor, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research

      118. Rajendran Narayanan, Visiting Scientist, Indian Statistical Institute

      119. Arvind Narrain, Alternative Law Forum

      120. Saboohi Nasim, Assistant Professor, Aligarh Muslim University

      121. Balaji Narsimhan

      122. Nandini Nayak, School of African and Oriental Studies, University of London

      123. P. Niranjana, Assistant Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

      124. V.P. Niranjanaradhya, National Law School of India University

      125. Claire Noronha, Collaborative Research and Dissemination

      126. Madhurima Nundy, Institute of Chinese Studies

      127. Gangaram Paikra, Right to Food Campaign, Chhattisgarh

      128. Parthapratim Pal, Associate Professor, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta

      129. Sandeep Pandey, National Alliance of People’s Movements

      130. Soma Kishore Parthasarathy, PhD scholar, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay

      131. Medha Patkar, National Alliance of People’s Movements

      132. Prabhat Patnaik, Retired Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University

      133. Utsa Patnaik, Retired Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University

      134. Boban V. Paul, NGO professional

      135. Pamela Philipose, Director, Women’s Features Services

      136. Neetha Pillai, Senior Fellow, Centre for Women's Development Studies

      137. Dr Prabir, Independent Consultant, West Bengal

      138. Pranesh Prakash, Law and Policy Researcher

      139. Mythri Prasad, Researcher, French Institute of Pondicherry

      140. T. V. H. Prathamesh, Research Scholar, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore

      141. Raghav Puri, Independent Researcher

      142. Pushpendra, Director, Centre for Social Studies, Surat

      143. Kalyani Raghunathan, Ph.D. Scholar, Cornell University

      144. Annie Raja, National Federation of Indian Women

      145. Jawahar Raja, Advocate, Delhi

      146. Suvrat Raju, Reader, International Centre for Theoretical Sciences, Mumbai

      147. R. Ramakumar, Associate Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai

      148. Kannama Raman, Associate Professor, University of Mumbai

      149. Usha Ramanathan, Legal Researcher

      150. Ashish Ranjan, Birla Institute of Technology, Patna

      151. Bharat Rastogi, Graduate student, University of California Santa Barbara

      152. Savitri Ray, FORCES Network, Centre for Women’s Development Studies

      153. Mohan Rao, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University

      154. E. Rati Rao, People’s Union for Civil Liberties Karnataka

      155. Vidya Rao, Jain Vishva Bharati Institute, Rajasthan

      156. D. Narsimha Reddy, Chair Professor, NIRD, Hyderabad

      157. Rammanohar Reddy, Editor, Economic and Political Weekly

      158. Dr. K. Srinath Reddy

      159. Ira Regmi, Student, Lady Shri Ram College for Women

      160. Rohit, Assistant Professor, South Asia University

      161. Aruna Roy, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan

      162. Saheli Women's Resource Centre Sahyogi, Patna

      163. Preeti Sampat, Independent Researcher

      164. Meera Samson, Collaborative Research and Dissemination

      165. Sunil D. Santha, Assistant Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

      166. Radha Kant Saxena, People’s Union for Civil Liberties

      167. Sukla Sen, EKTA (Committee for Communal Amity), Mumbai

      168. S. Seshan

      169. Sudeshna Sengupta, Mobile Crèches

      170. Mitu Sengupta, Centre for Human Development and Human Rights, New Delhi

      171. Prem Krishan Sharma, President, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Rajasthan

      172. Saurabh Sharma, JOSH, Delhi

      173. Veena Shatrugna, Former Deputy Director, National Institute of Nutrition

      174. Jeevika Shiv

      175. Dr. Mira Shiva, Initiative for Health & Equity in Society

      176. Rama Shyam, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

      177. Aditya Shrivastava, Advocate

      178. Shankar Singh, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan

      179. Bhanwar Singh, Astha

      180. Mahipal Singh, National Secretary, People’s Union for Civil Liberties

      181. Paramjeet Singh, People’s Union for Democratic Rights

      182. Surjit Singh, Director, Institute of Development Studies, Jaipur

      183. Dipa Sinha, Ph.D. Scholar, Jawaharlal Nehru University

      184. Shantha Sinha, National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights

      185. Ahmed Sohaib, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association

      186. Gautam Sonti

      187. Vivek Srinivasan, Stanford University

      188. Nisha Srivastava, University of Allahabad

      189. Ravi Srivastava, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University

      190. Shambhavi Srivastava, Graduate student, University of British Columbia

      191. Kavita Srivastava, National Secretary, People’s Union for Civil Liberties

      192. Sulakshana, Right to Food Campaign, Chhattisgarh

      193. Nandini Sundar, University of Delhi

      194. Mayur Suresh, Ph.D. Scholar, University of London

      195. V. Suresh, General Secretary, People’s Union for Civil Liberties

      196. Kamayani Swami, Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan

      197. Padmini Swaminathan, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad

      198. M.S. Swaminathan, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha

      199. Sharmila Tagore

      200. Krishan Takhar, People’s Union for Civil Liberties

      201. Vamsi Vakulabharanam, Reader, University of Hyderabad

      202. Padma Velaskar, Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

      203. G. Vijay, Assistant Professor, School of Economics, University of Hyderabad

      204. M. Vijayabaskar, Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai

      205. Vimochana, Forum for Women’s Rights

      206. Achin Vanaik, Retired Professor, University of Delhi

      207. Sujata Visaria, Hong Kong University of Science & Technology

      208. Bezwada Wilson, Safai Karamchari Andolan


      --
      Peace Is Doable
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