Tuesday August 20, 2019
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Is NYAY Going To Be A Game Changer for Congress?

The concerns about funds being used for harmful purposes cannot be ruled out. It is due to these challenges many policymakers suggest that instead of making welfare payments to poor households in the form of unrestricted cash transfers the government should focus on in-kind transfers.

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Congress on Friday promised to create one crore jobs across the southern state
Congress state units given more power for 2019 battle- wikimedia commons

By Amit Kapoor & Manisha Kapoor 

The idea of launching Nyuntam Aay Yojana, a cash transfer scheme that intends to provide Rs 72,000 per year to the poorest 20 per cent Indian families, by the Congress Party if it comes to power, has stirred a debate among the policymakers about whether the move is economically viable or is just a tactic by the Congress Party to garner votes in the upcoming general elections.

The discussions are foreseeable, provided that this intervention to ensure basic income to the poor households will cost the country somewhere between 1.5 per cent to 3.4 per cent of GDP, a number higher than the government’s expenditure on healthcare and education. The implementation of NYAY means an additional cost between Rs 3.6 lakh crore to Rs 7.2 lakh crore per year.

To put things in perspective, the expenditure of the proposed scheme is 2.2 times the budget of all centrally sponsored schemes. The party claims that they have worked out all the fiscal calculations before launching the scheme. However, this will be a major dent in India’s budget expenditure and will explode the fiscal deficit from the current 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.

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An impact evaluation study by UNICEF in Sub-Saharan Africa showed that with the exception of temporary price rise during payment period, cash transfers has no impact on the prices. Pixabay

Apart from fiscal prudence, the other immediate concern surrounding the scheme is the identification of beneficiaries and the database that will be used for this. There is no official income database available with the government at the individual level and since most of the poor work in unorganised rural areas, there is no direct way of verifying their incomes such as through a payroll or income tax.

The proponents of the approach state that a good starting point could be Socio Economic Caste Census of 2011 if one goes by multi-dimensional aspect of poverty. However, one can’t ignore the fact that even if the scheme defines poverty by assets and not income for quick exclusion rules, the data is outdated. A scheme targeted at reducing poverty can’t use data that is seven-eight years old. Even if one ignores that, it should be noted that there are major methodological issues with how data was collected. This is reflected in the discrepancies that exist in the data collected through SECC and other governmental data. A fresh survey for the identification process will lead to possibilities of corruption as in other targeted schemes. For instance, various studies have shown that many people who are not below poverty line have BPL cards.

One should also keep in mind that there exist significant disparities across Indian states and districts in terms of income levels and affordability of basic needs such as education, healthcare etc. Therefore, the same amount that means a lot to a person living in a low-income state or a state that has good access to public facilities such as public hospitals, schools etc would not be enough for a person trying to make a living in a high-income region. As a result, a prerequisite for such a scheme is a detailed regional level survey on income characteristics of Indian states and districts.

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To put things in perspective, the expenditure of the proposed scheme is 2.2 times the budget of all centrally sponsored schemes. The party claims that they have worked out all the fiscal calculations before launching the scheme. Pixabay

Another major concern surrounding the scheme is its inflationary implications. It is argued that the act of transferring cash to the target population will boost their purchasing power, which would lead to an increase in demand for goods and services and, thus, push prices upwards. Advocates of the approach have tried to argue that studies around the world present a lot of evidence to the contrary.

An impact evaluation study by UNICEF in Sub-Saharan Africa showed that with the exception of temporary price rise during payment period, cash transfers has no impact on the prices. However, these evidences should be considered with a pinch of salt. They rest on the assumption that the money will be spent on useful goods, that will help the local economy in becoming more productive. Though this will not be the case always.

Also Read: Food Unites People Across The Globe

The concerns about funds being used for harmful purposes cannot be ruled out. It is due to these challenges many policymakers suggest that instead of making welfare payments to poor households in the form of unrestricted cash transfers the government should focus on in-kind transfers. This idea is supported by claim that in-kind transfers will help by encouraging the consumption of right things, such as healthy food.

Given India’s concerns about rising unemployment rates, jobless growth and the fact that we need to have effective utilization of our young population to gain a competitive edge over other economies, the promoters are trying to project that NYAY can prove to be a game changer. However, for the Indian economy, a better alternative would be to strengthen the existing public services landscape by removing social, political and personal barriers, along with carrying out structural reforms that leads to creation of more productive jobs. (IANS)

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People in India Get the Best Good Night’s Sleep: Survey

Sleep quality, patterns, and duration may vary among countries, but one thing’s clear – people still aren’t getting enough sleep, it noted

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When it comes to quality sleep, India has astonishingly come on top — followed by Saudi Arabia and China — among the most restful populations where people get the best good night’s sleep.

The survey, conducted online by global market research firm KJT Group on behalf of Philips among 11,006 adults ages 18 and older in 12 countries, found that roughly 62 per cent of adults worldwide feel that they don’t sleep well when they go to bed.

The worst on the chart is South Korea, followed by Japan for poor sleep habits.

On average, adults globally sleep only 6.8 hours per night during the week and 7.8 hours per weekend night.

Rather than getting the recommended eight hours each night, more than six in 10 adults sleep longer hours on the weekend to catch up on sleep (63 per cent), the findings showed.

More than 4 in 10 adults say their sleep has gotten worse in the past 5 years, compared to only 26 per cent who said their sleep has gotten better and 31 per cent of adults saying their sleep hasn’t changed.

Canada (63 per cent) and Singapore (61 per cent) are the two countries with the highest reports of worry/stress impacting their sleep, said the “Philips Global Sleep Survey” 2019.

Lifestyle factors are crucial determinants when it comes to an individual’s sleep. The top five reasons around the world were worry/stress (54 per cent), the sleep environment (40 per cent), work or school schedule (37 per cent), entertainment (36 per cent) and a health condition (32 per cent).

Sleep, Mental Health, Students
Insufficient sleep is associated with a wide range of mental health issues. Pixabay

Sleep is finally being recognized as a key contributor to an individual’s overall health and wellbeing.

Losing just one or two hours of sleep per night can have the same impact on motor and cognitive functions as going without sleep for a full day or two.

“However, adults across the globe deal with various health and lifestyle factors that can stand in the way of them getting the best night’s sleep,” said the survey.

Among those who live with a spouse or partner, 35 per cent of women either only occasionally, frequently or never sleep in the same bed as their partner who snores.

Six in 10 global adults experience daytime sleepiness at least twice per week.

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Nearly 67 per cent of global adults reported they typically wake up at least once during the night.

Adults in India (36 per cent) and the US (30 per cent) were the most likely to sleep with a pet in their bed, said the survey.

Sleep quality, patterns, and duration may vary among countries, but one thing’s clear – people still aren’t getting enough sleep, it noted. (IANS)