P Chidambaram interview: Minimum income plan aims to wipe out poverty, MGNREGA had limited objective

On January 28, Congress president Rahul Gandhi announced the party is “committed to a Minimum Income Guarantee for every poor person”.

His brief announcement raised more questions than answers. The financial scale of a scheme that gives a monthly income to the poor in India will be huge. Therefore, how will it be funded? If the programme is funded by, as the Economic Survey had suggested, axing existing welfare programmes, the State’s developmental role will suffer. There is also the risk of competitive populism as other political parties and states follow suit, with a progressive hollowing of the State if they redirect funds to their income support programmes.

Trying to understand what the Congress is planning, Scroll.in contacted former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, who is said to be leading the party’s thinking on income support schemes.

And so, as a followup to my Abhijit Sen interview, my colleague Rohan and I have this email interview with P Chidambaram.

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