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Desai contributes to examination of Indian social support framework

COVID-19 shutdowns tested the Indian support regime and revealed opportunities for adjustment

Economic insecurity caused by lockdowns during the early days of Covid-19 forced many households to rely on government welfare schemes to fulfil their consumption needs. Using data from the June 2020 round of the Delhi NCR Coronavirus Telephone Survey, Desai and colleagues find that few households received both foodgrains and cash transfers, particularly in urban areas, and urban residents were also eight percentage points less likely to receive cash transfers vis-à-vis their rural counterparts.

"The prevalence of exclusion, even though moderate, necessitates discussions on targetting and selectivity. Targetting of the poor is often based on complex selection criteria, which tends to be riddled with exclusion errors (Jhabvala and Standing 2010). These errors get amplified when economic insecurity is more widespread, triggered by a large-scale shock. While social registries can ensure that cash is transferred expeditiously, registries based on specific deprivations may not identify individuals who are most vulnerable in the event of a crisis. . . .

"When external events affect all residents of an area focussing on geographical areas that are most affected by the crisis may be more effective than targetting individuals with specific characteristics. Considering that the immediate effect of the pandemic was more acutely felt in urban areas, the targetting framework needs to take into consideration such geographical segregation, and the need for putting in place a more robust institutional framework of local governance that can help create social registries in urban areas."

See the complete article at Ideas for India


Urban exclusion: Rethinking social protection in India in the wake of COVID-19, Ideas for India, June 13, 2022, Sonalde Desai