The Rajasthan government is set to introduce a law in the upcoming monsoon session that promises a guaranteed minimum income for the poor, according to officials. This move comes just five months before the assembly elections and makes Rajasthan the first state to enact such a law.
A senior government official stated, “We have prepared a draft of the Mahatma Gandhi Minimum Guaranteed Income Bill, 2023. It will soon be submitted to the cabinet for consideration in the upcoming assembly session, starting from July 14.”
The proposed law aims to establish a legal framework for all-state pension schemes and government-run urban and rural employment guarantee schemes. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had announced the minimum income guarantee in his 2023 budget speech, highlighting its benefits for families in the state. Under the scheme, every family will be eligible for a guaranteed employment guarantee of 125 days per year and a minimum pension of ₹1,000 per month for elderly, disabled, and single women. The implementation of this scheme would require an additional expenditure of ₹2,500 crore.
Currently, the Rajasthan government spends ₹9,000 crore annually on social security pensions for around 10 million beneficiaries. The central government also provides ₹300 crore annually for pensions, benefiting one million people in the state.
A senior official familiar with the matter explained that the draft bill was prepared after the Chief Minister’s announcement, with the aim of ensuring a minimum income for the poor. The law would ensure that all eligible beneficiaries are covered under various social security schemes. If anyone is not covered, the government will guarantee a minimum income for them.
The official further clarified that the purpose of the new law is to provide a legal framework for different social security schemes and ensure that the promised benefits reach the people. For instance, the government currently provides a monthly pension of ₹1,000 to senior citizens, widows, single women, and disabled individuals. Additionally, the government has pledged an unemployment allowance of ₹4,500 for women and disabled individuals, and ₹4,000 for men. The proposed law will serve as a guarantee for these amounts.
The introduction of this bill is part of Chief Minister Gehlot’s efforts to provide social security to the citizens of Rajasthan. The government has undertaken various initiatives, such as Inflation Relief Camps, where people can register to receive a cooking gas cylinder for ₹500 per month, up to 100 units of free electricity for domestic consumers, 200 units for agricultural connections, free ration kits under the National Food Security Act, and free medical treatment worth up to ₹25 lakh under the state’s Chiranjeevi Health Insurance scheme.