Basic needs as a right to be given to people through various schemes, like the law guaranteeing 100 days of employment, the law making access to education as right, and even compensation for land acquired has been termed as a fair right.
This approach makes the whole population as the right holder, with some qualifiers for each scheme like for example to access the guarantee of 100 days’ work one has to be a rural resident.
Together, if one makes a back of envelope calculation for a household, the Government transfers close to Rs 3 lakh to a household.
A significant aspect of the implementation of these schemes is the employment of latest technological tools to ensure that the delivery of the benefits was quick, transparent and corruption-free through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) mode.
Modi in the past had extolled the virtues of DBT while citing the statement of former PM Rajiv Gandhi that out of 100 paise released by the Government towards the welfare of poor and needy, only 15 paise reached the beneficiaries due to leakages and corruption.
Though the UPA Government had started the DBT on a pilot basis in 2013-14, the Modi Government adopted and expanded it to cover all Government schemes in which cash or in kind benefits are given to the people. PM Modi propagated the ‘JAM’ (Jan Dhan Bank Account, Aadhaar and Mobile) for DBT.
The latest data, after collation from various central ministries and departments, shows that nearly Rs 6.18 lakh crore was transferred directly to the bank accounts or given in kind to people across the country in 2021-22. This was a significant jump from Rs 5.52 lakh crore doled out to people in 2020-21, the previous financial year, and from Rs 3.8 lakh crore in 2019-20, according to the Government figures.
A record number of 783 crore transactions took place in 2021-22 under the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), which is also a big jump from 603 crore transactions in 2020-21 and 438 crore transactions in the 2019-20 financial year. This amounted to a near 79 per cent jump in the number of transactions over the last two years. The Narendra Modi Government embarked on the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana in 2020 to provide free rations to nearly 80 crore people in the country during the Covid-19 pandemic — this seems to have played a big role in the increase in DBT.
The maximum 342 crore transactions in 2021-22 were under the Public Distribution Scheme (PDS) with benefits worth Rs 2.17 lakh crore being transferred to people. At present, 313 Central Government schemes are on the DBT-Aadhaar platform including PM-KISAN, PM Aawas Yojana, Ayushman Bharat, LPG-PAHAL and MGNREGA among others.
A typical characteristic of the Modi model of welfare is that the delivery of the Government’s welfare schemes is in sync with his concept of minimum government.
In their implementation, these schemes had all the ingredients of Modi’s political style – transparent design, ambitious targets, tight centralised monitoring and public outreach — resulting in an accelerated pace of activity But they also brought to the fore deeply contested questions about the architecture of the welfare state, its functions and capability. PM Modi used modern technology and enhanced public participation to minimise the role of bureaucracy and eliminate middlemen in delivery of the benefits.
The effectiveness of welfare policy under Modi 2.0 will rest on how it navigates this terrain and its willingness to invest in building state capacity. India doesn’t need new schemes; rather it needs consolidation and balancing between competing welfare strategies. Getting this right will require significant investments in state capacity by making the people as effective stakeholders in the welfare state. The Garib Kalyan Sammelan was a major step in that direction.