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Targeting farmers on basis of landholding won't benefit large rural population: Expert (The New Indian Express)

February 5, 2019

From the article:

WASHINGTON: Targeting farmers on the basis of landholding is unlikely to benefit a large section of the rural population in India and will create fiscal burden without solving the actual problem, an expert at an American think-tank has said.

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"There is some evidence that targeting on the basis of landholding would not benefit a large section of the rural population who are equally if not more in distress. This might even backfire politically if the government is seen to be favouring the already well-off farmers," Mukherjee, a policy fellow at the Center for Global Development think-tank, told PTI in an interview.

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"Both completely exclude the urban poor who are growing in number, but the political parties do not consider them to be influential vote banks. So to be clear, there is very little economic basis for these schemes - it should be seen for what they are: a political gimmick before the elections," Mukherjee said.

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One of the main advantages of UBI is that it is universal - no targeting is necessary. India is replete with lessons of how difficult it is to target schemes to particular beneficiaries, leading to misallocation, corruption and leakage. Aadhaar and Jan Dhan would not be able to solve the targeting problem," he argued.

Mukherjee said that "half-baked policies" will do more harm than good, both in the short and the long term.

"They will create fiscal burden without solving the actual problem. Just think of farm loan waiver - how much damage it has done, but still politicians think it is the only way to get votes.

I sincerely hope the cash transfer program doesn't go the same way," he said.

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Photo of Anit Mukherjee
Policy Fellow