Jan 16, 2008

The Case for Social Security

I think the need for a social security problem in India cannot be overstated. A functioning social security system will ofcourse provide direct benefits to the people most in need of it as of now. But as i have often argued..A functional social security will also fulfill the following criteria

Movement away from Caste Based Largesse distribution to Need Based intervention - The slowing down of the identity politics - This is very indirect, but as the State moves from caste based bounty distribution to need based social security..I don't think the upside of identity based politics will be very high

"Abilty to Pay" becomes a non factor in PPP or Community based initiatives - Right now the 'ability to pay' factor means that much of the PPP initiatives can be argued against. A social security system will lessen the need for govt intervention in implementation and maintenance of facilities in the agri and other social sectors eg Irrigation Projects, Water supply etc.

Halt to mass migration to Urban areas - As the social security kicks in, People from the rural areas will be loath to live in sum urban hutments to get a livewlihood. And surely thats good for everyone. Frankly much of the desperation in the society that goes on with earning your livelihood will be removed, making everyone a lot more civilised.

As i mentioned earlier in the blog also, community participation and PPP initiatives is the most potent way in which we can improve the implementation mechanism for government schemes. The other way is ofcourse through use of Information technology. Technology here i think is just a prop to bring about change. Even just information dissemination will do, but that alone will not be allowed to happen. But all this in a separate post.

Disclaimer : Ofcourse the big assumption here is- How to effect a functional Social Security system and do we have adequate resources for the same. I am afraid we have unsatisfactory answers to both the questions. But the point of this post is, while there is need to point out the apparent lacunae in schemes like NREGS, a potent case for a Social Security system should also be made. Lat our governance system outgrow the subsistence mode.