Case 1: A skill building organisation is training people in skills. The participants pay nothing. Indian government foots the bills
Case 2: A new non-profit is doing unconditional cash transfers. They will give money directly to the poor and let them decide what is best for them. No strings attached.
When ever I go and speak to someone from the non-profit sector they are very quick to point out that Case 1 is a life change investment where as Case 2 is just a dole ( Implicit argument is that somehow Case 1 is superior).
The trouble is that really there is no difference per se- both are doles or handouts. The only difference is that in Case 1 you have decided on the behalf of the poor that skills training is best for them.
I do feel that there is merit in skills training and all the other kinds of poverty alleviation programs that NGOs and Governments run in India and across the world. But billions of dollars are spent in these efforts but very little if at all anything is given as cash to the poor. May be there lies a fundamental distrust that if we give money directly to the poor then they will waste it. I have two big problems with this distrust. One, NGOs and Governments are themselves super inefficient and wasteful and two all the money is spent in the name of the poor.
May be for a change we need to rethink our prejudices and assumptions and trust that poor are as responsible as we are with money. We have tried all other approaches to lift poor out of poverty. May be its time to just give them cash and see what happens.
Still not convinced. Read what happens when you give 1000 USD to ultra poor.