Amidst a pre-election frenzy of welfare schemes and freebies, the Gehlot regime also enacts a couple of first-in-India bills
FOURTH TERM IN MIND: CM Ashok Gehlot distributing social security pension in Sikar.
Ascribe it to a genuine feel for the people or to plain shrewdness, but Ashok Gehlot has made social welfare a consistent focus of his administration. A special urgency to tend to the general weal seems to grip the Rajasthan chief minister especially before elections—a time such as now. Whether born of principle or exigency, this bent continues to give Rajasthan some pioneering policy moments. Back in 2011, during his second term, the Free Medicine Scheme was one such. More than an unthinking handout, it was an intervention that answered to a historical need, at a time when increasingly privatised healthcare was bleeding the mass of immiserated citizenry. Crafted around the procurement of generic medicines, it helped break the tyranny of huge mark-ups on branded drugs. Now, the budget session of 2023 brings forth two pieces of legislation that can have a similar historic stature in India, enacted as a response to the way the evolving economy is experienced at the bottom of the pyramid: the Rajasthan Platform-Based Gig Workers (Registration and Welfare) Bill, and the Minimum Income Guarantee Act.