Rush for Direct Benefits: Unraveling the Political Fervor

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January 4, 2024

Rush for Direct Benefits: Unraveling the Political Fervor


  • Direct benefit schemes like NYAY, PM-Kisan, and similar initiatives have taken center stage in political discourse, offering cash benefits to specific segments of society. Despite parallels with Universal Basic Income (UBI), these schemes differ significantly in scope and implementation, raising pertinent questions about their efficacy, affordability, and alignment with poverty alleviation strategies.

The Charm of Direct Benefit Schemes

  • The allure of these schemes lies in their promise to provide immediate relief to the impoverished. Unlike UBI, they target specific demographics without revoking existing subsidies, presenting a limited financial aid compared to the comprehensive income proposed under UBI.

Not Quite Universal: Why Nyay/PM-Kisan Differ from UBI

  • While resembling UBI in approach, these schemes fall short in universality, subsidy elimination, and the quantum of aid provided. UBI’s comprehensive nature, encompassing all citizens and replacing existing subsidies, stands in contrast to the targeted scope of Nyay/PM-Kisan.

The Unfeasibility of UBI Implementation

  • UBI, despite its ideological appeal, faces stark challenges in terms of affordability and political feasibility. The exorbitant cost and the potential backlash from revoking subsidies hinder its adoption in most countries, irrespective of their economic standing.

The Persistence of Direct Cash Transfers

  • Despite ideological disparities, political parties lean towards direct cash transfers, leveraging existing welfare schemes instead of dismantling them. This paradoxical approach underscores the shared objective of providing immediate assistance to the vulnerable.

Rethinking the Aid Paradigm: The Case for Direct Cash Transfers

  • A paradigm shift emerges, challenging traditional notions of aid. Advocates suggest that providing direct cash transfers is not merely charitable but an effective catalyst for poverty alleviation and sustainable development. Examples from developing nations echo the potential of such initiatives in empowering individuals to escape the poverty trap.

Addressing Misconceptions: Laziness vs. Empowerment

  • Contrary to concerns about fostering laziness, direct cash transfers act as a springboard for self-improvement. By offering a financial foundation, these transfers enable individuals to access necessities and catalyze personal development, shattering the ‘poverty trap’ paradigm.

Implementing Direct Benefit Transfers: Key Principles

  • Effective implementation of direct benefit transfers hinges on fairness, reliability, practicality, substantial aid, and political acceptability. These principles are instrumental in ensuring the success and societal acceptance of such initiatives.
  • In essence, the discourse surrounding direct benefit schemes, despite its political nuances, converges on the urgency of providing immediate aid to the needy. Shifting from traditional aid approaches to empowering individuals through direct cash transfers marks a pivotal evolution in social welfare paradigms.


  • The policy landscape is witnessing a shift towards acknowledging the immediacy of assistance. Direct benefit transfers, while not mirroring UBI, offer a pragmatic approach to addressing immediate needs, challenging conventional welfare ideologies.

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Rush for Direct Benefits: Unraveling the Political Fervor | Vaid ICS Institute