IMPROVING SOCIAL SECURITY

The Prime Minister Narender Modi has been quite clear in conveying the message to the masses across the nation right from the day he took over as the PM that the common people of the nation are his topmost priority and he has stood to his commitments by announcing massive social security schemes till date. The latest endeavour in this regard by the Modi Government presently on anvil a welfare programme is all set to extend benefit to India’s 500 million workers despite limited resources to implement the ambitious plan. While the opposition has got yet another excuse to criticizing the Modi Government by labelling Modi’s endeavour aimed to woo the voters in the 2019, Lok Sabha polls but given the objectives of the programme it will be the landmark measure towards social security of the Indians especially the commoners at the grassroots level. As per preliminary information making rounds in media, Modi aims to initially provide three programmes namely old age pension, life insurance and maternity benefits. A bill stands already drafted in this context to extend benefits to all workers, including those in informal employment, by merging and simplifying 15 federal labour laws into one and the Government plans to present it in the upcoming session of Parliament. The plan will be one of the largest mass benefit programmes in the country of 1.3 billion people and comes after the February announcement of a health protection plan targeted to cover 100 million poor families. It is pertinent to mention here that in the United States of America which is considered to be the most developed nation of the world today, Social Security is its mainstay, as much a part of the US culture as baseball, hot dogs and apple pie as it provides benefits to over 50 million people, i.e. about one in every six US citizens. Fortunately the Indian Prime Minister Narender Modi too is most concerned about the social security aspect and is determined in making it the nation’s mainstay which is evident from the various social security schemes rolled out by him being more focussed on the lowest strata of the Indian society for whom even making a square meal a reality is a dream. The schemes rolled out till date turned out to be very well tailored to ensure that the affordability factor does not deprive the common people of the benefits under these schemes. Social Security provides guaranteed progressive benefit that keeps up with increases in the cost of living in the western world but here in India the main section of the population that needs the social security is the economically weakest sections. The basis for a social security scheme is near cent percent participation that makes it much less expensive. Though the experts have started debating on the viability and success of the programme especially in view of the huge funds required for the purpose, yet there is a unanimous view that the government should go for it as it will undoubtedly help reduce poverty in a country that’s home to a third of the world’s poor and still spends less than 2 percent of its GDP on social security. The move is expected to have a dual impact on the economy. While the higher social spending would add to fiscal stress and limit the scope for infrastructure development, at the same time by giving benefits mostly to informal workers who contribute to about half of the country’s GDP, it would enhance the quality of life and raise productivity. While the people are quite hopefull of success of these programmes only time will decide whether the programme envisaged by Modi Government brings the desired transformation in the life of common people of the world’s largest democracy.