Making cash transfers work: A one-size-fits-all plan to implement cash transfers is unlikely to work in India. Tailoring to local needs is the key
If cash transfers are to fulfil their promise of being a “game changer”, then a paradigm shift has to occur from the supply-to-demand-side subventions. Top driven supply-side interventions get morphed beyond recognition as they pass through several implementation layers.
Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom’s work in developing countries shows how this happens: in the unique culture of India, people rely more on locally crafted “rules in use”, as opposed to drilled down “rules in form”. And such transformation can be reduced by minimizing the distance between the rules in form and use. This can happen, for example, by giving greater choice to the poor to make the best use of money depending on situational rules in use.
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