Big Ideas for India Contest: Question 2: Is there an alternative to entitlements for the social sector?

Given India’s deep and wide poverty, anti-poverty programmes have been the hallmark of most governments in the past 60 years. That they have clearly not worked is evident in the poverty numbers. Be it in urban India or in rural India, even as a small part of India shines, a large fraction of the population still has a hand-to-mouth existence.

The UPA government has focused on creating various Rights – Right to Employment (through NREGA), Right to Education and the soon-to-come Right to Food. All of these involve handouts and entitlements of some sort. The result is that the social sector spend in India has ballooned to $100B of the trillion-dollar economy. With efficiency of spend being estimated at no more than 25 percent, there is clearly significant wastage and leakage.

So, what is the alternative to entitlements? Or, is there?

Contest Overview.