They have called themselves the people’s parliament, the ‘Jan Sansad’. And on Wednesday, this group of various people’s movements at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, rejected the government’s ‘game-changer’ cash transfer scheme.
"We don’t want cash," was the collective consensus against the scheme to be introduced from January. Activists including Aruna Roy, Medha Patkar, Nikhil Dey, Usha Ramanathan were joined by CPM’s Brinda Karat and BJP’s Prakash Javadkar in expressing doubts about the scheme.
The activists expressed concerns that the scheme would destroy the public distribution system, which though inefficient, can work well if reformed. Ritika Khera, professor at IIT Delhi explained that states like Tamil Nadu and Chattisgarh had shown that it was a myth that the PDS system cannot work. Instead of improving the system, the government is washing hands of it. "If a school is not up to the mark, would you stop the school itself," asked Pushpa, a Delhi resident.
Glaring holes were pointed out in the 2011’s ‘cash-for-kerosene’ pilot scheme at Kotkasim in Alwar, which is being cited by the government as a success. The results of a right to food campaign study showed that people had stopped buying kerosene altogether as there was no kerosene availability due to price rise, nor money availability.