New Delhi: Critiquing Prime Minister Narendra Modis flagship Ayushman Bharat scheme, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen said here on Wednesday it aimed at the wrong population and was "the biggest example of a leap in the wrong direction".
The economist said what India needed was a radical change in the primary healthcare whereas the scheme was helpful only if one has survived the early dangers of death, like pre-natal, post-natal and infant mortality.
What Ayushman Bharat does is if you are 40 and need to undergo a medical procedure, the government pays for it. But if one dies at a young age of say two-three years, you don't exist, he said at the launch of "A Quantum Leap in the Wrong Direction?".
The book, published by Orient BlackSwan, compares the promises made in the runup to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and the outcomes over the past five years. Speaking at a panel discussion, Sen said while the government had neglected education and health, the neglect of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes was even worse.
Criticising the direct income support, and the idea of universal basic income, he said being poor in India was a lot different than being poor in China and income support was not the solution.
"In India, poverty means no access to schools and hospitals. Universal basic income won't solve the problem because the problem is in the nature of society, not lack of money," Sen said.
Referring to demonetisation as the government's version of a magic trick in economics, he said the economy suffers a lot from belief in magic. C. Rammanohar Reddy, journalist and author of 'Demonetisation and Black Money', said even after two years, there was no accountability for demonetisation. From the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to the government, no one was answerable. "Economic consequences of demonetisation are still with us. Be it slow grodd domestic product (GDP) growth or the loss of jobs, it can be traced back to that time," he said.
Grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and former West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi said while the Right to Information Act was in the ICU, Aadhaar had reduced the individual to just a number.
JNU professor Zoya Hasan said under the Modi rule, a shift was happening from pluralism to majoritarianism. --IANS