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It was heartening to read about the success stories of social welfare programmes like icds and mid-day meal schemes (Water for the Leeward India, Mar 24). But NREGA should not be clubbed with these. In the initial years, this short-sighted project bled the Indian economy profusely with virtually no creation of assets, an enormous amount of corruption and needless expense on the creation of administrative infrastructure. Instead of wasting enormous amounts of money on this muddy idea, priority could have been given to skill development and creation of a business-friendly environment for industries to flourish and absorb these workers. NREGA has disturbed the rural agricultural economies of many states, with agricultural labourers preferring to earn easy money instead of working hard.
Kahlar, Lachung, Sikkim
NREGA burns the backs of landowning people, destroying the “social order” of rural areas. Earlier they could keep the lower castes under their thumb, but now NREGA is a way out.
Kishore Dasmunshi, Calcutta
Outlook seems to have shed any pretence of journalism and is indulging in shameful Congress-Communist propaganda. Social welfare is an essential part of any civilised society; the trick is to balance between giving someone fish and teaching that person to fish. The truth is, the Congress culture of massive corruption, policy paralysis, divide and rule, pathological sycophancy and anti-nationalism have made the social welfare programmes unsustainable and will bankrupt the country—we have seen this movie before, pre-1990s. The country needs a fresh start, and let the upcoming elections be one in that direction.
Ravi Jain, Hyderabad
Social spending is a must. It is not a debate between capitalism and socialism. Countries espousing either model should provide universal free education, healthcare and social security to the poor and elderly.
Rajesh Chandra, Phoenix
Social spending is a widely contested political issue that divides the left from the right. Still it is possible for a media outfit to investigate both sides of the aisle to review the success of these programmes. From what I have read in the past, we seem to have had a mixed bag of success and failures; even the success has been uneven across the states. NREGA, for example, has distorted the agricultural labour markets in rural areas. And these factors should be taken into account in any non-partisan study. No one suggests scrapping all welfare programmes, but a review is certainly in order. Even in the West, such reviews are undertaken to ensure that the poor and the needy are supported, but not encouraged to make an easy living from perpetual dependence on welfare.
Dipto, New York
It is good that rice is sold to bpl families at Rs 1 for a kg in Karnataka. Otherwise, hotels will be forced to double the price for idlis.
K. Suresh, Bangalore
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