Economists Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee have advised bolder direct benefit transfers to deal with the coronavirus crisis that has left India's poor in a lurch.
In an article on The Indian Express, the couple said that the government should directly transfer benefits into people's accounts using the JAM trinity - Jan Dhan, Aadhar and Mobile, and give them an e-receipt.
The amount must be large enough to ensure that people don't step out of their homes to search for livelihood.
"Be much, much bolder with the social transfers schemes. Without that, the demand crisis will snowball into an economic avalanche, and people will have no choice but to defy orders," the duo said.
The Modi government has announced a relief package of Rs 1.7 lakh crore amid coronavirus outbreak.
Banerjee and Duflo said lockdown would slow down the spread of the virus but warned that it would be difficult to control once it reached urban slums because social distancing was much harder to observe in such places.
Unless the virus is completely eradicated in these 21 days, which seems unlikely, cases might see a rise once the lockdown is lifted.
They also said that unknown carriers can spread the disease to people not related to them, in which case it would be difficult to trace or contain the virus.
The noble laureates suggested a few steps to fight such a situation like ramping up channels of reporting of the infection through ASHAs or a hotline, making at least one person aware of the symptoms of the virus, creating mobile teams comprising doctors, equipping nurses with testing kits and other medical devices that are needed during an emergency.
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