The Modi Years – Pro Poor Initiatives

Bharat is reducing the number of people in poverty at faster pace than expectations. A nation of 1.3 billion, Bharat, holds one of world’s largest poor population. International organisations like UN and World Bank have been revisiting their definition of extreme poverty from time to time.

From 2005 to 2013, the World Bank hooded the benchmark of US 2 dollars a day income on purchasing power parity index to determine the extreme poverty. In 2011, Bharat’s population number living under US 1.90 dollars a day stood at 268 million as per Word Bank which has now drastically decreased at an unbelievable pace.

Under the regime of Modi, 44 Bharatiyas are escaping extreme every minute and Bharat is no longer the country with largest poor population, ceding the dubious rank to Nigeria. 

According to the World Data Lab’s World Poverty Clock — a model created to track progress against poverty in real time — less than 50 million Bharatiyas may be living on less than $1.90 a day now.

“The soon-to-be-largest country in the world has been reducing extreme poverty fast and the world may have underestimated Bharat’s achievements. Bharat’s last household survey of 2017/18 (to be released in 2019) captures household consumption more comprehensively — it will include an adjustment for owner-occupied housing and measure other items in accordance with common international practices,” a report by think tank Brookings said.

The report further suggested that Bharat’s poverty population will come down to 40 million (a poverty rate of below 3%) by the end of this year. 

This proves clearly Bharat’s struggle against poverty is paying back and we are quickly surging ahead towards complete eradication of extreme poverty by the next decade. This government under Modi, perhaps, has been most prudent and sedulous in fighting extreme poverty in the country. This government has bought several pro poor schemes and mission mode initiatives which is helping the nation surge ahead. 

Here we will surf through the pro poor schemes and initiatives bought in by previous Modi led NDA government. 

Jan Dhan Yojana

Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), one of the biggest financial inclusion initiatives in the world, was announced by Prime Minister Modi on 15th August 2014. Jan Dhan Yojana is a National Mission on Financial Inclusion which has an integrated approach to bring about comprehensive financial inclusion and provide banking services to all households in the country. 

While launching the programme on 28th August, the Prime Minister had described the occasion as a festival to celebrate the liberation of the poor from a dubious situation of corruption caused due to absence of bank accounts. Modi had, while addressing the nation, referred to the ancient Sanskrit verse: ‘Sukhasya moolam dharma, dharmasya moolam artha, arthasya moolam rajyam’ – which puts the onus of stable financial condition of both state and community on the state. This Government has accepted this responsibility’ said Modi while launching nationwide financial inclusion program.

“By 26th January, 2015, banks have already opened 12.54 crore accounts as on 31st January 2015 after conducting survey of 21.06 crore households with deposits exceeding Rs 10,000 crores.” claims PM site. Among the total accounts opened, 60% are in rural areas and 40% are in urban. Share of female account holders is laudable and stands at 51%. The basic objective of the scheme is to ensure bank accounts for every individual in order to provide them with direct benefits and to consciously halt mid way corruption.

The other main features of PMJDY include Rs. 5,000 overdraft facility for Aadhar-linked accounts and a RuPay debit card with inbuilt Rs. 1 lakh accident insurance cover. The schemes architects a system of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) into the account of the beneficiary, subverting the older dilapidated system of mid way corruption. Kisan Credit Cards are also linked with RuPay cards in due process of initiatives. Micro insurance and unorganised pension programmes were also included in the second phase of the scheme.

Guinness World Records has also recognised the achievements made under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana. It has certified that the “Most bank accounts opened in one week as part of the Financial Inclusion Campaign is 18,096,130 and was achieved by the Department of Financial Services, Government of Bharat.”

Financial inclusion through PMJDY has been exceptional but in spite of it the share of people with inactive accounts in Bharat is highest in the world, as a recent Plain Facts column pointed out, suggesting that not all beneficiaries of the scheme have been able to reap the full benefits of the scheme.

Despite the caveats, Jan Dhan Yojana not only serves as an significant epitome of Governance in Mission Mode but also demonstrates what a Government can achieve if it is committed to the welfare of the people.

PM Aawas Yojana

PMAY was launched in June 2015. Under the scheme, all below poverty line families living in dilapidated, kachcha homes were provided pucca homes with basic amenities by 2022. The Government envisaged building affordable pucca houses with water facility, sanitation and electricity supply round-the-clock. EWS and LIG account for 96 per cent of the housing shortage in urban Bharat.

And therefore the scheme covered people from the EWS (annual income not exceeding Rs 3 lakh), LIG (annual income not exceeding Rs 6 lakh) sections and the mid-income group (MIG) as well. PMAY targets to construct 20 million affordable houses for poor by 2022.

The policy also incorporated 90 days of unskilled labour under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. The scheme has proven to be a grand success for the government architecting better living standards for millions. As per the reports 15 million new houses has been constructed under the scheme till now which is a massive feat for the government. Housing for poor will reshape the future of Bharat to a great extent.

Ujjwala Yojana

In Bharat everyday basic activity of cooking is fraught with danger for millions of households. Our country is home to more than 24 Crore households out of which about 10 Crore households are still using firewood, coal, dung – cakes etc. as primary source of cooking. The smoke from burning such fuels causes alarming household pollution and adversely affects the health of Women & children causing several respiratory diseases/ disorders.

In 2016, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimated that nearly 800,000 people lost their lives prematurely because of intake of hazardous polluting fuels such as wood and coal used in cooking. As per a WHO report, smoke inhaled by women from unclean fuel is equivalent to burning 400 cigarettes in an hour. In addition, women and children have to go through the drudgery of collecting firewood and environmental safety has to be imperilled.

Due to poverty and lack of financial stability, majority of families could not afford alternative fuel source such as LPG because of their high monetary value. Inability of families to afford alternative fuel puts the onus of providing an alternative on the state. For more than 40 years, almost every previous regimes had no solid action on the issue and only played on soft grounds like encouraging the use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) through a significant subsidy without taking the issue on mission mode.

No other Prime Minister had taken note of the problem in the precursory times. PM Modi understood the critical aspect and took the lead in its resolve by launching Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana on May way in 2016, an integrated programme to distribute better and less polluting – LPG cylinders to women across the nation.

Earlier the scheme was targeted to provide 50 million (5 crore) LPG connection to below poverty households across the nation, which through proper implementation and establishments zeal was successfully achieved and in February, the Union Cabinet, in wake of previous success, approved an further allocation of Rs 4,800 crore to the Ujjwala Yojana to scale up connections from five crore to eight crore by the end of 2019. 

The oil ministry’s Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) estimates that LPG coverage in Bharat (the proportion of households with an LPG connection) has increased from 56% in 2015 to 90% in 2019. And of the 79 million poor customers with LPG connections, 76% are PMUY beneficiaries. According to these estimates, several states such as Maharashtra and Rajasthan, are already nearing 100% LPG coverage. The distribution network has also expanded significantly with nearly 9,000 new distributors added over the last five years, according to PPAC data.

The cooking gas connections were established in the names of women family members only, a much-lauded aspect of the scheme seen as promoting active women participation. The scheme has garnered praise in the World Health Organisation’s pollution report earlier this year and also became the subject of a National Geographic documentary chronicling its impact on the lives of four women across the country, with the scene tracking closely how their lives have changed phenomenally after the scheme.

PM Mudra Yojana

The PMMY was launched on April 8, 2015 with an aim to provide loans upto Rs 10 lakh to non-corporate, non-farm small or micro enterprises. The scheme aided business growth and entrepreneurship in the country with ensuring financial assistance for start ups and medium and small scale industries. 

Non–corporate small business segment comprising of millions of proprietorship or partnership firms running as small manufacturing units, service sector units, shopkeepers, fruits or vegetable vendors, truck operators, food-service units, repair shops, machine operators, small industries, artisans, food processors and others, in rural and urban areas, were beneficiaries from the scheme.

Under the scheme, the government provided financial assistance through three stages/types of funding namely Shishu : covering loans up to 50,000/-, Kishor : covering loans above 50,000/- and up to 5 lakh, Tarun : covering loans above 5 lakh and up to 10 lakh.

As per the data available on Mudra Yojana’s official website almost 13 crore (12,90,73,857) people were given loans under the scheme till May 25, 2018.

The total sanctioned amount of loan under Mudra Yojana was Rs 6 lakh crore (Rs 6,00,589.21 crore) out of which Rs 5.81 lakh crore (Rs 5,81,283.18 crore) had been disbursed to the beneficiaries. PM Modi said, “Out of the 12 crore beneficiaries, 28 per cent or 3.25 crore are first-time entrepreneurs… About 74 per cent or 9 crore, borrowers are women and 55 per cent belong to the SC/ST and OBC category.”

Under PMMY, the number of accounts/ number of loans sanctioned during 2015-16 to 2017-18 were 12.27 crore, out of which 3.49 crore were new entrepreneurs.

The scheme has been a good success till date with scores of new businesses opening up and providing jobs to lakhs of people. PMMY has given wings to the dreams of thousands of entrepreneurs of country and they have provided jobs and better living standards to much more. This schemes has also played a key role in improving the lives of poor in our country.

Saubhagya Yojana

Saubhagya Yojana, an initiative launched on 11 October 2017 to electrify all the remaining un-electrified houses holistically on a mission mode, was one of the most revered and counted on schemes of the BJP leading to electoral battle. Electrification of scores of villages was still not done in many parts of the country, most of them remote villages, during the previous drives for rural electrification by precursory governments.

Not having active electricity connection halts the growth and progress of both nation and individual to a great extent. Electricity is one of the modes which helps you connect with the world through various modes and assists in ensuring a happier life. A poor person is like last man in the queue and previous governments did not reach out to them dragging them behind in the quest for development.  

This government, however, dedicated itself to reach out to the last man in the queue. Modi led NDA through Saubhagya has carried out rural electrification of villages previously left out in the drive. The scheme has been a good success story holding a badge of honour of electrifying 21,44,73,043 households till date across 633 districts of the country which is, according to government data, is 99.99% electrification with 18,734 households remaining to be electrified (In the four districts of Chhattisgarh).

The government says, scheme has covered and saturated 6,19,289 villages with 519 villages of Chhattisgarh yet to be. In spite of considering caveats in the data, it is still undoubtedly, a arduous work by the government which has improved lives of millions and deserves to be lauded.

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About the Author

Yogendra Thakur
A student and two time state topper in Astrophysics and Art of Lecturing. Primary focus areas are Indology and Economics.