It was in 1985 when the late Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi, made a poignant statement that still echoes in the halls of governance today.
"out of every rupee spent by the government for the welfare of the downtrodden, only fifteen paise actually reached the persons for whom it was intended."
Although the statement was made several years ago, it still holds a degree of truth for many underprivileged sections of society, who often fall prey to the leakages and inefficiencies in government welfare schemes. Governance in India has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years, particularly under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. One of the most significant areas of change has been implementing government welfare schemes.
The Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) system has been a game-changer in this regard, ensuring that the intended benefits reach the targeted beneficiaries with minimal leakage and maximum efficiency.
The DBT system, introduced in 2013, aims to transfer subsidies and other benefits directly to the bank accounts of the intended beneficiaries, eliminating intermediaries and reducing the scope for corruption and leakages. The system was initially implemented for a few schemes, but over the years, it has been extended to cover many schemes, including PDS, fertiliser, LPG, and many others.
The impact of DBT has been nothing short of transformative. According to data from the government, the implementation of DBT has led to a significant increase in the number of beneficiaries receiving the intended benefits. For example, the number of beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, which provides free LPG connections to women below the poverty line, has increased from 1.5 crores in 2014 to 8 crores in 2018. Similarly, the number of beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, which provides crop insurance to farmers, has increased from 3.6 crores in 2014 to 53.4 crores in 2019.
The success of DBT can also be seen in the savings that it has generated for the government. According to a report by the Ministry of Finance, implementing DBT across various schemes has led to savings of over ₹1.7 lakh crore between 2013-14 and 2018-19.
Another transformative step taken by the government has been the launch of the Jan Dhan accounts and linking them to the Aadhar. The Jan Dhan accounts, which are savings accounts opened for the financially excluded sections of society who do not have access to formal banking services, have been linked to the Aadhar to ensure that the benefits of various welfare schemes reach the intended beneficiaries directly and without any leakages. This has greatly reduced the gap between government spending and the money that reaches the beneficiaries, as per the data provided by the government.
According to the Ministry of Finance, as of August 2019, a total of 36.5 crores of Jan Dhan accounts have been opened, and over ₹1.31 lakh crores have been deposited in these accounts.
Another major step taken by the government in this direction has been the Direct Bank Transfer (DBT) scheme. Under the DBT, the government transfers the financial benefits of various welfare schemes directly to the beneficiaries' bank accounts, eliminating the need for intermediaries and reducing the chances of corruption and leakages.
As per the data provided by the government, as of August 2019, a total of 28.6 crore beneficiaries have been covered under the DBT scheme, and the government has saved over ₹90,000 crores through its implementation.
The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) is another scheme the government has implemented to provide affordable housing to the economically weaker sections of society. The scheme aims to construct 2 crore houses by 2022 and has been implemented in both rural and urban areas.
According to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, as of October 2020, over 1.2 crore houses have been constructed under the PMAY scheme, and over 1.7 crore houses have been sanctioned.
Another scheme that the government has implemented to provide financial assistance to small and marginal farmers is the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN). The scheme provides annual financial assistance of ₹6000 to small and marginal farmers.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, as of October 2020, over 10.5 crore farmers have benefited under the PM-KISAN scheme, and over ₹77,000 crores have been disbursed.
The impact of these schemes on the lives of the common man can be seen in true stories from across the country. Take, for example, the story of Rajesh Kumar, a resident of a small village in Uttar Pradesh who had been struggling to make ends meet. He had never had access to formal banking services and had never been able to access government welfare schemes. However, with the launch of the Jan Dhan accounts and the linking of these accounts to the Aadhar, Rajesh Kumar was able to open a bank account and access government welfare schemes, resulting in a significant improvement in his financial situation.
Similarly, in the state of Maharashtra, the implementation of the DBT scheme for the Public Distribution System (PDS) has ensured that the benefits of the scheme reach the intended beneficiaries directly and without any leakages. This has resulted in an increase in the number of beneficiaries and a reduction in the number of fake ration cards.
Suman, a housewife from a small village in Odisha, was able to avail the benefits of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, which helped her access clean and safe cooking fuel, and improved her overall health and well-being.
Another example of how these schemes have impacted the lives of the common man is the story of Raju, a small farmer from the state of Gujarat. Raju had been facing financial difficulties due to the lack of proper irrigation facilities and the high cost of inputs. However, with the implementation of the PM-KISAN scheme, Raju could access the financial assistance provided by the government, which helped him purchase inputs and improve his irrigation facilities. This led to an increase in crop yield and a significant improvement in his financial situation.
These stories are just a testament to the impact that DBT has had on the lives of the common people. It has helped to ensure that the government's welfare schemes reach the intended beneficiaries, and it has done so with minimal leakage and maximum efficiency. The implementation of DBT has been nothing short of a paradigm shift in how governance is being conducted in India and serves as a shining example of the Modi government's commitment to good governance and the welfare of the common man.
In conclusion, the current government's regime has taken several steps that have brought about a significant change in how governance is conducted in India. Launching the Jan Dhan accounts and implementing the DBT, the PMAY, and PM-KISAN schemes have ensured that the benefits of various welfare schemes reach the intended beneficiaries directly and without any leakages. This has greatly reduced the gap between government spending and the money that reaches the beneficiaries and has brought about a change for the better for the common man.
As the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had said, "out of every rupee spent by the government for the welfare of the downtrodden, only fifteen paise actually reached the persons for whom it was intended." But with the current government's initiatives, it can be said that the situation has changed for the better, and now the common man is getting their one rupee.
The government's efforts to digitise welfare schemes and to ensure the direct transfer of benefits to the intended beneficiaries have not only brought about a change in the financial situation of the underprivileged. Still, they have also ensured transparency and accountability in delivering these schemes. It is now the responsibility of the government to continue to build on these efforts and to ensure that the benefits of these schemes reach the most marginalised and underprivileged sections of society. With the right policies and implementation, we can move closer to ensuring that every rupee spent by the government reaches the intended beneficiaries and brings about a change for the better for the common man.