On Friday, the Rajasthan Assembly passed The Rajasthan Minimum Guaranteed Income Bill, 2023, aiming to provide guaranteed wages or pension to the entire adult population of the state. Described as an unprecedented and historic law, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shanti Dhariwal emphasized that Rajasthan is the first state to introduce such comprehensive guarantees, demonstrating the government’s concern for the welfare of the poor and addressing inflation.
Rajasthan Minimum Guaranteed Income Bill, 2023
Under this bill, all families, whether residing in urban or rural areas, will be entitled to 125 days of employment guarantee each year, along with a minimum pension of Rs 1,000 per month for the elderly, disabled, single women, and others. Notably, the pension amount will automatically increase by 15 percent annually.
In response to criticism during the debate, Minister Dhariwal pointed out that the benefits provided under the Chiranjeevi Yojana, including free medical treatment up to Rs 25 lakh, accident insurance up to Rs 10 lakh, free electricity up to 100 units (and up to 200 units for farmers), Rs 500 gas cylinders, and Annapurna Ration Kits, would contribute to increasing people’s income beyond the Rs 1,000 pension.
One significant aspect of the law is that eligible individuals who are denied their rights to employment or pension can now approach the courts for redress.
Intense Debate Ensues Over the Income Bill
The Leader of Opposition, Rajendra Rathore, however, dismissed the Bill as a mere facade, considering the large population of Rajasthan, especially the Below Poverty Line (BPL) segment. He questioned the financial feasibility of the government’s promises, citing the substantial funds required to implement flagship schemes and the rising per-person debt in the state.
Rathore also criticized the government’s promotion of the ‘CM employment guarantee scheme’ as an additional 25 days of work under MGNREGA, claiming that only a negligible percentage of families qualified for this scheme.
On the other hand, independent MLA Sanyam Lodha hailed the Bill as revolutionary, praising Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot as a champion of social justice. He argued that the government was returning the people’s money to them and emphasized the importance of responsible spending.
Various BJP MLAs raised concerns about the lack of accountability and questioned the efficacy of providing guarantees without ensuring proper accountability measures.
In summary, the Rajasthan Minimum Guaranteed Income Bill, 2023, has been a subject of intense debate in the Assembly, with supporters hailing it as a groundbreaking step towards social welfare, while critics raise concerns about financial feasibility, accountability, and the timing of the government’s announcements.