ARVIND SUBRAMANIAN

Sandeep Joshi

Carry On Dr Swamy

You have every right to give a fair warning that there are 27 other officials on your list who you think need to be "fixed". This is too modest a figure, for a vast and Byzantine bureaucracy. About time we had a comprehensive purge.
CSIS: Center for Strategic & International Studies/Flickr

The Pursuit of Cash Transfer Nirvana Ignores Inconvenient Evidence

Learned economists and policy-makers are meeting at Vigyan Bhawan today to discuss the unfolding "revolution of social welfare policy" led by the JAM (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar, Mobile) trinity. In case you have not heard of it, the said revolution was announced in the New York Times on July 22, 2015 by Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian and his colleague Siddharth George. It involves a straight jump "from a bank-less society to a cashless one", on the back of the JAM trinity. Using this infrastructure, the authors propose "rolling all subsidies into a single lump-sum cash transfer to households" - nothing less. The same vision is outlined in the Finance Ministry's latest Economic Survey which modestly concludes that "Nirvana today seems within reach". Touching as this faith may seem, a single-minded focus on high-tech cash transfers as a foundation for social policy in India is fraught with dangers.