Direct Benefit Transfer Scheme of the Government of India 2023
Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) is a mechanism adopted by the Government of India to transfer subsidies and other benefits directly to the bank accounts of eligible beneficiaries. DBT aims to eliminate intermediaries, reduce leakages, and ensure efficient and timely delivery of benefits to the intended recipients. The Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) program was launched on January 1, 2013, by the Government of India when Dr. Manmohan Singh was the prime Minister of India. However, the program has been continued and expanded by subsequent governments, including the current government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
What schemes are covered under DBT?
Several schemes are covered under DBT, including:
- Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme
- LPG subsidy under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY)
- Public Distribution System (PDS)
- National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP)
- Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY)
- PAHAL (DBTL) Scheme for LPG subsidy
What are the main criteria of DBT?
The criteria for eligibility vary depending on the scheme. For example, under the MGNREGS, eligibility is based on age, gender, and rural location. Under the PMUY, eligibility is based on socio-economic factors such as income and household status. The government has also introduced Aadhaar-based authentication to ensure only eligible beneficiaries receive the benefits.
Here are the eligibility criteria for each of the schemes mentioned above:
- Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme:
- Applicants must be Indian citizens aged between 18 and 60 years.
- They must reside in rural areas and be willing to do manual work.
- They must have registered under the scheme and have a valid job card.
- LPG subsidy under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY):
- The scheme targets women from BPL (Below Poverty Line) households.
- Applicants must be Indian citizens above the age of 18.
- The applicant’s household must not have an LPG connection in the name of any family member.
- The applicant’s household income should be below a certain threshold.
- Public Distribution System (PDS):
- Applicants must be Indian citizens with a valid ration card.
- They must fall under the specified poverty line.
- The number of family members in the applicant’s household determines the quantum of ration.
- National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP):
- Applicants must be Indian citizens and fall under the BPL category.
- They must belong to one of the following categories: elderly (aged 60 years and above), widows, disabled, or destitute.
- They must not receive any other government pension or financial assistance.
- Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY):
- Applicants must be pregnant women who are Indian citizens.
- They must have received at least one antenatal check-up and be availing of institutional delivery.
- They must be delivered in a government or accredited private health facility.
- PAHAL (DBTL) Scheme for LPG subsidy:
- Applicants must be Indian citizens above the age of 18.
- The applicant’s household must have an LPG connection in their name.
- The applicant must possess an Aadhaar card and a linked bank account to receive the subsidy.
None of the eligibility criteria mentioned for the schemes are directly based on the census. The criteria are based on factors such as citizenship, age, income, residence, and possession of certain documents like Aadhaar and ration card. However, the poverty line criteria used in schemes like the Public Distribution System (PDS) and the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) are indirectly related to the census. The poverty line estimates are based on data collected through household surveys, including the census.
Benefits of Conducting a Caste-Based Census in India 2023
In the absence of the latest 2021 Census data, what are the limitations, if the beneficiaries are based on 2001 Census data?
If the beneficiaries are based on the 2001 Census data instead of the latest available data, several limitations could arise. Some of these limitations are:
- Changes in population: The population of India has increased significantly since the 2001 Census. If the beneficiaries are identified based on this outdated data, it could lead to a significant mismatch between the actual number of eligible beneficiaries and those identified based on the 2001 Census data.
- Changes in socio-economic status: There could be significant changes in the socio-economic status of individuals and households over time. Using outdated data could result in many households being wrongly identified as eligible for benefits or vice versa.
- Changes in demographic profile: There could be significant changes in the demographic profile of individuals and households over time. For example, the proportion of elderly citizens, women, and children in the population may have changed significantly. Using outdated data could result in benefits being skewed towards certain groups or not reaching those who need them the most.
- Changes in geographical distribution: The geographical distribution of the population may have changed since 2001, with some areas experiencing higher population growth rates than others. Using outdated data could result in benefits being unevenly distributed across regions, with some areas receiving more than they should and others receiving less.
Overall, relying on outdated data can result in inefficiencies and inequities in the delivery of benefits. It is essential to use the latest available data to identify eligible beneficiaries accurately.
What are the limitations if the beneficiaries are based on outdated data?
Without the latest data on beneficiaries, some new eligible beneficiaries may not receive benefits, while some existing beneficiaries may become ineligible. Additionally, some beneficiaries may have passed away between 2001 and 2023.
More specifically, for example, if the beneficiaries of a government scheme are identified based on the 2001 Census data, some individuals who have recently moved to the area or have come of age since 2001 may not be included in the list of beneficiaries. Similarly, some individuals eligible for the benefits in 2001 may have passed away or may have become ineligible due to changes in their socio-economic status, meaning they should no longer receive the benefits.
Importance of BPL Scheme on Education in India
In order to ensure that the benefits are reaching the intended beneficiaries, it is essential to regularly update the data and identify new eligible beneficiaries while removing those who are no longer eligible. This will help to ensure that the benefits are targeted towards those who need them the most and that there is no wastage of resources on ineligible beneficiaries. It is hoped that the Census of India 2021 operations will soon be launched by the Government of India, which is being delayed because of the COVID 2019 pandemic.
Are school students also beneficiaries of DBTs?
Yes, school students also benefit from Direct Benefit Transfers (DBTs) for various government schemes. For example, the subsidy for school uniforms, textbooks, and other educational expenses is also being transferred to the bank accounts of the students enrolled in schools or their parents through DBT in their bank accounts. Additionally, scholarships for students from economically weaker sections of society are often disbursed through DBT. It ensures that the benefits of various government schemes reach the intended beneficiaries promptly and transparently. At the same time, it reduces the chances of corruption and leakages in the system.
Challenges DBTs facing?
While DBT has several advantages over traditional methods of delivering benefits, such as greater efficiency, transparency, and reduced leakages, there are still challenges that are required to be addressed to ensure that the benefits reach the intended beneficiaries.
One of the main challenges is identifying the actual beneficiaries, especially in cases where the data on potential beneficiaries is outdated or incomplete. There is also the risk of errors in the data entry or transfer process, which could result in some beneficiaries not receiving their entitlements or others receiving them erroneously.
Additionally, there may be cases where the intended beneficiaries do not have access to the required bank accounts or digital infrastructure, which can prevent them from receiving benefits through DBT.
To meet challenges, it is crucial to ensure that the data on potential beneficiaries are regularly updated and that proper mechanisms are in place to verify their eligibility. Moreover, efforts should be made to provide the necessary infrastructure and support to the beneficiaries to ensure they can access the benefits through DBT. By addressing these issues, it is possible to ensure that the benefits of DBT reach the actual beneficiaries and contribute to improving their lives.
How is Below the poverty Population (BPL) line identified in India?
In India, the population below the poverty line (BPL) is identified using a methodology developed by the Planning Commission of India, which NITI Aayog now replaces. The methodology uses a poverty line based on calorie requirements and expenditure on other essential items such as clothing, housing, and education.
The methodology uses a consumption-based approach, where the households’ consumption expenditure is measured based on the data collected through large-scale surveys, such as the National Sample Survey. The households’ consumption expenditure is then compared with the poverty line to identify those below the poverty line.
BPL households are identified through the Below Poverty Line (BPL) Census, which the respective State Governments conduct in coordination with the central government. The BPL census is conducted to identify households living below the poverty line in a particular area or region. The identification of BPL households is based on several socio-economic & demographic characteristics, such as income, occupation, education level, and the number of dependents.
Once the BPL households are identified, various government schemes and programs are targeted towards these households to provide them with essential services and support, such as food security, housing, healthcare, and education. The government also periodically updates the BPL list to ensure that the benefits of various schemes is reach to the targeted population who need them the most.
When was the BPL Census last conducted in India and state level?
The last Below Poverty Line (BPL) Census in India was conducted in 2011. It is essential to observe that the methodology for identifying households below the poverty line has since been revised, and the identification of beneficiaries for various government schemes is now based on Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 data.
The SECC 2011 data is more comprehensive than the BPL Census and includes additional parameters such as the size and structure of the households, education, occupation, land ownership, and possession of assets, among others. This data identifies and targets the beneficiaries of various government schemes, including the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, the National Health Protection Scheme (Ayushman Bharat), and the Ujjwala Yojana for LPG connections.
The State Governments also use the SECC 2011 data to prepare the list of beneficiaries for various State-level schemes and programs. Some states, such as Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, have conducted surveys to identify the households below the poverty line and provide targeted support.
The identification of households below the poverty line (BPL) in India is not based on the latest Census data. However, it is instead based on the Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 data can have certain limitations. Some of these limitations are:
- Outdated information: As the SECC 2011 data is over a decade old, it may not accurately reflect the current socio-economic status of households. The data may not account for changes in household income, occupation, or other factors that could affect their poverty status.
- Inaccurate data: The SECC 2011 data may contain errors or inaccuracies, leading to incorrect identification of households as below the poverty line or excluding deserving households from receiving government support.
- Geographical variations: The SECC 2011 data does not consider the geographical variations in poverty levels across different country regions. The data may not accurately reflect the poverty status of households in areas that have undergone significant changes in economic development, such as urbanization.
- Exclusion errors: The SECC 2011 data may not identify all eligible households for government support, leading to exclusion errors.
To overcome these limitations, the government periodically updates the SECC data. It uses other mechanisms, such as regular surveys and participatory approaches, to identify households below the poverty line and provide targeted support. It is vital to ensure that the benefits reach the intended beneficiaries, and there is a mechanism to regularly monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of these schemes in reducing poverty levels.
On what basis 5 kg ration per person is being distributed?
The 5 kg ration per person is being distributed as part of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), launched by the Government of India in 2020 to provide additional food security measures to vulnerable sections of the population during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under this scheme, 5 kg of food grains per person per month is being distributed free of cost to beneficiaries for eight months, from April to November 2021. The beneficiaries include those covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and other identified categories, such as migrant workers and urban poor who are not covered under the NFSA. The scheme has since been extended beyond 2021, and roughly an estimated 800 million population is benefiting from the scheme.
The basis for distributing a 5 kg ration per person is the identification of eligible beneficiaries through the digitized ration card system or other identification documents such as Aadhaar, voter ID, or other prescribed documents. The food grains are being distributed through the Public Distribution System (PDS) at Fair Price Shops (FPS) or other designated outlets. The Government of India is implementing the scheme through the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food, and Public Distribution in collaboration with State governments and Union Territories.