Economists, activists suggest Mission Jai Hind to deal with Covid-19 crisis

4 days ago

The economists and activists said that first of all migrants should be sent back to their native place in the next 10 days without taking any charge from them

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migrant workers | Coronavirus | Narendra Modi government

Leading economist and activists, including former Planning Commission member Abhijit Sen, Former Chief Economic Advisor Deepak Nayyar, R Nagaraj, from the Indira Gandhi Insititute of Development Research and others have proposed a seven-point plan of action to deal with the current economic and humanitarian crisis brought about due to Covid-19.

The suggestions under the the action plan - ‘Mission Jai Hind - include universal free health care for all Covid-19 patients, three months interest waiver on loans taken by farmers, small business and also house loans and enhanced job guarantees in rural and urban India.

The measures suggested also include compensation for loss of job, salary or livelihood, which could be in the form of job loss allowance for the salaried, wage subsidies for firms, crop loss compensation for the farmers and a one-time support for hawkers and petty businessmen.

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Apart from Sen, Nayyar and Nagaraj, other experts like Prof Pranab Bardhan, Jean Dreze, Maitreesh Ghatak, Jayati Ghosh, Debraj Ray, Ashok Kotwal, Santosh Mehrotra, Amit Basole and Himanshu have also endorsed the action plan.

Social activists including Shri Rajmohan Gandhi, Ramachandra Guha, Ganesh Devy, EAS Sarma, Harsh Mander, Nikhil De, Admiral Ramdas, Lalita Ramdas, Aakar Patel, Bezwada Wilson, Ashutosh Varshney, Dipa Sinha and Yogendra Yadav have also supported the 7-point charter.

The economists and activists said that first of all migrants should be sent back to their native place in the next 10 days without taking any charge from them.

“Central Government must take the responsibility to arrange, coordinate and pay for trains and inter-state buses, while State Government should take responsibility for free transport of intra-state migrants and free transport from railhead or bus terminus to their villages,” the economists suggested.


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They also suggested that universal access be given to all those who don’t have ration card to not just grains, but also 10 kg foodgrains, 1.5 kg daal, 800 ml cooking oil, 500 gm sugar per person per month for the next six months so that no one goes hungry during the crisis.

The suggestions also include home delivery of ration, equivalent to the Mid-Day-Meal and ICDS food supplement and running of community kitchens for the hungry in each school, until universal ration is activated.

Besides these instant reliefs, the plan of action recommends three sets of measures for the revival of economy.

Firstly, the plan proposes that in rural areas, MNREGS job guarantee should be expanded to 200 days per household, besides compensating MNREGS workers for job loss during lockdown and payment of their pending wages.

It also proposes an urban employment guarantee for 100 days per person for this year.

Secondly, the plan of action suggests compensation for loss of job, salary or livelihood. This could take multiple forms: job loss allowance for the salaried, wage subsidies for firms, crop loss compensation for the farmers and a one-time support of around Rs 10,000 to hawkers, vendors, small shopkeepers to restart their business along with an ex-gratia of Rs 2000 per month for three months to all social security pension beneficiaries, including disabled, widows, old persons etc.

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Thirdly, the plan recommends that no interest be charged from weaker sections till the economy revives. It suggests three months of loan deferment and interest waiver for farmers, small business and for first-time house loans. In order to raise resources for the initiatives, the action plan proposes the principle of “Whatever it takes” to raise resources.

“All the resources (cash, real estate, property, bonds, etc) with the citizens or within the nation must be treated as national resources available during this crisis and given the critical role of the state governments, at least 50 per cent of the additional revenue raised for this purpose with the state governments,” the economists said.

Expenses under this mission are to be the first charge on the exchequer, with everything else following them. “There should be a complete ban on all wasteful and non-essential public expenditure and subsidies,” the economists and experts said.

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