All of us are well aware about the ‘Amma Kitchen’ scheme in the state of Tamil Nadu which is going on for quite some time. It has earned a lot of fame. Surprisingly, the quality of the food is also good. I have seen hoards of people in various centers taking benefit of this absolutely cheaper food.
Recently, the government in the state of Uttar Pradesh has also rolled out similar such scheme, wherein a person can enjoy 3 meals in a day, for just Rs.13/- No doubt this is in the interest of the poor people who earn hand to mouth everyday.
Both the schemes, are popular, one is already and other will soon be, among the masses, the majority in this country. These are the ones who are unorganized, have no place to appeal, have no other option but to sleep empty stomach when someone call Bandh. And let us not discuss the political part of it.
I want to bring forward the other side of the coin. This other side, is unnecessarily suffering from the ills of such schemes.
Since the scheme launched in Tamil Nadu or latest in Uttar Pradesh, there is a drastic fall in the number of regular labor. In Tamil Nadu, there is acute shortage of unskilled workers for loading / unloading, cleaning, sweeping etc. People come for work for about a week, ensure they have earned sufficient so that they can eat at Amma kitchen for the remaining month and they vanish. Usually, anywhere in the country, a truck is unloaded and reloaded within 24 hours. Now it is taking not less than 72 hours. This is just because non availability of labor. One can argue that the problem can be solved by automation. But it is not so easy and so cheap.
Not less than a month that the Annapurna scheme has been launched in Uttar Pradesh, the number of truck drivers coming from that part, has gone down dramatically. Same reason. Same answers. Just think, can a truck be fully automatic?
Mahatma Gandhi has referred about a gospel in the bible, in his article in Young India (circa 1921) which says, GOD created man to work for his food, and said that those who ate without work were thieves. (YI, 13-10-1921, p. 325)
I am not at all against such schemes. In fact, in the country like us, this is much needed. But the implementing authorities must keep these consequences in mind. Over a period of time, if all state governments come out with such schemes for whatsoever reasons, imagine what can happen on this other side of the coin. If everybody starts working in this manner, over a period of time, it will slow down the whole economic cycle.
This is the time to retrospect and make necessary alterations in the scheme. Else it will have damaging effects on the economy in the long run.