Cash transfers seem to be the latest fad. With elections looming, the Prime Minister’s National Committee on Direct Cash Transfers has been tasked with an ambitious mandate to provide vision and direction to enable direct cash transfers of subsidies under various government schemes and programmes to individuals to enhance efficiency. Certain activists warn against an ill-considered and hasty transition from food to cash. Others believe directly transferring the subsidy amount to citizens can offer beneficiaries more choice and allow the state to sidestep poor supply side management practices plaguing the public distribution of goods and services that result in leakage. Cash transfers have increasingly become synonymous with ideological contestation on the role of the state, making the debate on feasibility shriller. Like most medicine, cash transfers are a cure, but not a cure-all. It helps to clarify which maladies can be solved by cash transfers, which cannot — and identify those cases where the side effects of introducing cash could be worse than the disease.


Pritchett, Lant, and Shrayana Bhattacharya. "Cash is No Cure-All." Indian Express, November 27, 2012.