Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana: Silent revolution

PM Jan-Dhan Yojana envisions a social security umbrella big enough to cover the whole country

ajay

Ajay Singh | June 6, 2015


#jan-dhan yojana   #pmjdy   #arun jaitley   #financial inclusion  


Good intentions often pave the way for the worst outcome. We saw it in the 1980s when a plan for rural poverty alleviation, known as the integrated rural development programme (IRDP), was launched. Rajiv Gandhi gave it a big push. The IRDP was modelled on the success of microcredit in Bangladesh.

READ: Exclusive interview with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley


The massive initiative aimed at lifting the rural populace out of poverty was vigorously monitored by the prime minister’s office (PMO). Since the Congress ruled at the centre as well as in most of the states, the writ of the PMO was effective and unchallenged. Regional rural banks (RRBs) were set up on war-footing to connect the economically and socially marginalised to the banking sector. People were encouraged to open bank accounts and avail loans. An institution called NABARD was created to refinance the credit and take care of subsidy given to the rural poor. The landless belonging to the scheduled castes/tribes were given incentives and a huge subsidy (85 percent) to purchase livestock like pigs, buffaloes, cows and goats to supplement their income and come out of poverty.

There was nothing wrong with the programme in terms of its content till the notorious Indian bureaucracy turned it into a massive rural corruption racket. Animals were purchased and shown dead on paper all over the country to avail the loan waiver. The booty was shared by bank staff, block level officers and beneficiaries. Within a few years, the IRDP, the biggest financial inclusion and anti-poverty programme then, turned out to be a stinking mess of corruption and scandals.

The Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) is even more ambitious than the IRDP. But have we learnt lessons from the past before rolling out yet another scheme? However, there are enough indications to suggest that the PMJDY is better designed than the IRDP. Unlike the IRDP which encouraged people to take loan and avail subsidy, the PMJDY is not linked to doles but to entitlements. It is aimed at creating awareness among the poor about their rights as citizens. The attempt to link these accounts with the direct benefit transfer (DBT) is intended to do away with the middlemen who used to get fattened on the doles meant for the poor.

Unlike the IRDP which was aimed exclusively at the rural poor, the PMJDY is an all-inclusive scheme which does not discriminate between urban and rural citizens. In a country which is on the cusp of furious urbanisation, any distinction on the basis of rural/urban in any programme would have been a recipe for disaster. For the first time policymakers recognised that the urban poor were no less miserable than their rural counterparts.

What is particularly remarkable about the PMJDY is the way it is designed to contain the transmission loss of subsidies meant for the poor but often pocketed by intermediaries. The seeding of the beneficiaries’ accounts with Aadhaar and connecting them also with their mobile numbers would evolve an identity grid across the country. It would have a positive impact on internal security as well.

The manner in which the scheme is linked to the new insurance and pension plans will extend a social security umbrella over those living on the margins and struggling for their day-to-day survival. That is the precise reason why we call it a ‘silent revolution’. It is ushered in simply by motivating people and without deploying any additional resources. It will be a great achievement if the PMJDY evolves into an effective mechanism to deliver people’s entitlements in a transparent manner.

But the devil is always in the detail. What will happen if the PMO will no longer be interested in the programme? What will happen if the notorious bureaucracy strikes back with a new way of salting away people’s entitlements? The bureaucratic ingenuity in innovating methods of corruption should hardly be underestimated. In such a situation, what is attained would be frittered away sooner than later. The risk of this silent revolution meeting a premature death is also not a distant possibility.

ajay@governancneow.com 

(The article appears in the June 1-15, 2015 issue)

Comments

 

Other News

Charming tales of the Snakeman’s early years

Snakes, Drugs and Rock ’N’ Roll: My Early Years By Romulus Whitaker with Janaki Lenin HarperCollins, 400 pages, Rs 699

Gripping graphic narrative helps make sense of pandemics past

The Moral Contagion By Julia Hauser and Sarnath Banerjee HarperCollins, 140 pages, Rs 699 The world has lar

“Globally, there is unprecedented positivity for India”

Addressing the Viksit Bharat Viksit Uttar Pradesh program in Lucknow on Monday, prime minister Narendra Modi launched 14,000 projects across the state, worth more than Rs 10 lakh crore at the fourth groundbreaking ceremony of UP Global Investors Summit held in February 2023. The projects relate to sectors

World’s biggest bird-a-thon begins in India

During the four days from Feb 16, more than a thousand birdwatchers throughout India are coming together with the goal of documenting as many birds as possible across the country’s diverse locations. Over one lakh birdwatchers globally participate in the annual Great Backyard Bird Coun

Comments sought on Draft Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advt in Coaching Sector

The Central Consumer Protection Authority has sought public comments on the ‘Draft Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advertisement in Coaching Sector’. The draft guidelines are placed on the website of the Department of Consumer Affairs and are accessible through the link:

Electoral bond scheme unconstitutional: Supreme Court

In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court of India has held the anonymous, unregulated and unlimited funding through electoral bonds and companies as unconstitutional. The five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court comprising chief justice DY Chandrachud and justices Sanjiv Khanna, B

Visionary Talk: Amitabh Gupta, Pune Police Commissioner with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now


Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook Twitter Google Plus Linkedin Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter