Of course, cash transfers have advantages too: they have lower transaction costs, more convenient for migrant labour, and might be easier to monitor. Sometime in the future, when the banking system has a wider reach and a more ambitious social security system is developed, with large income transfers that cannot be made in grain (because people can only consume so much of it), a cautious transition to cash transfers may be advisable. But this future is quite distant still, and for the time being, food is the best.
For the full text of the blog by Mr Jean Dreze in 'Down to Earth' magazine, click here
Finally, Mr Dreze has condescended to accept that cash transfer has advantages too, even as all right thinking people, across the country, had foreseen the benefits long ago. It is he and his NAC which had been blocking its implementation all these years, earning poor Manmohan Singh a bad name in the process. Realising that things are heading no-where, Madame Gandhi appears to have released Manmohan Singh from the clutches of Dreze and his lot, and finally, we seem to be headed in the right direction. Perhaps, Mr Dreze's team has continued beyond its sell-by date.