Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Social Security System must be made Universal

Nobel laureate Dr.Amartya Sen is one of the greatest economists produced by our country is a bitter critic of the obsession of our government's focus on GDP growth which has not resulted in removing inequality or in improving the living standards of large majority of the Indian population.

"The progress of living standards for common people,as opposed to the favored minority,is dreadfully slow-so slow that India's social indicators are still abysmal"

According to World Bank data, only five countries ( Afghanistan,Cambodia,Haiti,Myanmar and Pakistan) do worse than India in child mortality rate,only three have lower levels  of "access to improved level of sanitation"(Bolivia,Cambodia  and Haiti); and none (anywhere - not even in Africa) have higher proportion of underweight children. Almost any composite index of these and related indicators of health,education and nutrition would place India very close to the bottom in ranking of all countries outside Africa.

Sustainable economic growth must enhance the living standards and quality of life instead of creating wealth among very few.

Our government must not focus only on pleasing and getting approval from the rating agencies whose credibility itself is in doubt after its disastrous predictions in rating the performance of European  counties in debt crisis as well as US sub prime crisis in 2008. The rating agencies itself needed proper ratings before taking their rating into consideration.
In any democratic countries the rating is to be by its citizens and not by any outside agencies who do not know anything about the living standards of our people.
Ours is primarily a country which sustains itself and spends only from its savings and that's why the savings rate was one of the highest in the world which were around 36% which has come down drastically to around 30% by shifting to either gold or real estate.Nealy 50% people do not have dwelling units of their own and in more than 50% of our population do not have toilet facilities and do their daily chores in the open field.
The best example of this could be seen if one travels by long distance train to Mumbai while it reaches in the early morning hours. Those who have more than one dwelling houses have it as an investment and for speculation rather than for a living home while millions do not have roof over their head.

So in my opinion it is the duty of the elected government and socially oriented NGOs to focus:

1.UNIVERSAL PUBLIC DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM.
2.UNIVERSAL FREE EDUCATION FOR ALL UP TO GRADUATION(RTE IMPROVEMENT)
3.EMPLOYMENT FOR ALL: ( If unemployed Government must provide allowance)
4.UNIVERSAL FREE HEALTH CARE FOR ALL-SMART CARD TO GET FREE MEDICARE
5.PENSION FOR ALL ABOVE 60 YEARS OF AGE
6.HOUSING FOR ALL-MORE THAN ONE HOUSE MUST BE ACQUIRED & REDISTRIBUTE.
7.MNAREGA MUST BE MADE 300 DAYS FOR ALL RURAL UNEMPLOYED
8.LAND ACQUISITION BY GOVERNMENT ONLY FOR PUBLIC PURPOSE ONLY
9.LAND ACQUISITION BY PRIVATE COMPANIES MUST BE ON LEASE & MARKET RATE.
10.INHERITANCE TAX & DIVIDEND TAX MUST BE REINTRODUCED TO CUT DEFICIT

This is easily possible and attainable. The government in its last budget has furnished the revenue foregone by way of extending tax exemptions and incentives to the tune of around Rs.5.59 lakh crore which is same around total government borrowings? Total interest payments by the government is around Rs.3.17 lakh crore.
It should be made mandatory that all employees of public as well as private sector employees compulsorily insured both for life and health by their respective companies while in service and after retirement so that the universal health care can be taken care of. Those on the unorganized sectors the government can improve upon under the National Rural health Insurance Scheme which covers only BPL familities to the extent of Rs.30000.The ESI(Employees State Insurance also needs further reforms and improvement of benefits to the unorganised sectors by opening more hospitals and medical colleges to extend free health care and insurance to the poorer sections of the society whose monthly income is below Rs.12000.
The definition of the BPL(Below Poverty Line) also needs thorough revision from the present Rs.32 per day in Urban areas  in which one cannot travel in a bus to his place of work.It must be increased drastically which will have to cover food,travel,house rent,medicare,clothing & children's education which will not be less than Rs.350 per day.Accordingly any one who is earning less than Rs.350 per day must be treated as living below poverty line.
Thus minimum wages must be fixed at Rs.12000 per month and this should be the bench mark no one should be allowed to be paid less than Rs.12000 per month.
Alternatively as suggested by Mr.N.R.Narayana Murthy,Founder of Infosys Ltd,the minimum wages in the country or in any organisation must be linked to the highest salary of the top executive of the company or the highest paid executive of the country.
 Either maximum pay & perquisites must be 100 times of the minimum pay or 1% must be the minimum pay for the lowest cadre employee of the company.
After the 2008 financial crisis world over there are cries to put cap on executive pay and linking of the same to minimum pay through statute will bring solace to large section of the labour force.
Another important aspect to be considered is extension of trade union rights to the IT sector employees.The bastion of trade union movement West Bengal too has prohibited trade union rights to IT employees which is totally unfair and in the name of  exports they are exploited without any standard working hours or stress redress mechanisms.
Even the cap on LPG cylinders is also one of the major burden to the middle class families. In the name of reducing budget deficit of around frequent increase in petroleum products has put serious burden in the ever increasing inflation.The total subsidy is around Rs.76000 crores and government is extending Rs,65000 crores as subsidy to diomond exporters of Surat.Which one is a priority when we have sufficient foreign exchange reserves? Out of the subsidies nearly 75% of that is being collected as taxes by both central and state governments and if all these taxes are withdrawn the prices will come down by Rs.10 per liter and subsidy burden also will come down by around Rs.50000 crores.
So providing security to the less privileged sections of the people must be a priority to the government rather than helping very few rich industrialists to feed their greed.

GOVERNMENT MUST TAKE Dr.Amartya Sen's services and work for providing foolproof SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM FOR ALL so that the development benefits are not pocketed by minority of people by exploiting the majority