Skip to main content

Three years on landless farmers, 55% of rural folk, 'remain outside PM-Kisan ambit'

By Prasanna Mohanty 
Who and how many farmers are getting income support of Rs 6,000 under PM-Kisan? Surely, the Centre doesn’t know; had that not been the case, it wouldn’t be giving multiple sets of data, all of which contradict each other.
One true “master stroke” that helped the Modi government clinch the second term in 2019 was the PM-Kisan announcement on February 1, 2019 in the interim budget, under which “around 12 core small and marginal farmer families” were to get Rs 6,000 a year in three instalments of Rs 2,000 each. The interim budget made it “retrospective,” to come into effect from December 1, 2018 (budgets are for the next fiscal year, not the previous one), at an annual cost of Rs 75,000 crore.
Later, on June 1, 2019, this was extended to all farm households (including medium and large farmers), thereby increasing the beneficiaries to 14.6 crore (as per the 2015-16 Agriculture Census). On October 17, 2022, when the Prime Minister released the 12th instalment (August-September 2022) of PM-Kisan of Rs 2,000, the total disbursement was Rs 16,000 crore, which translates to 8 crore farm households getting it. This represents only 54.8% of the 14.6 million beneficiary households.

Why this drastic fall? 

Before explaining this, it would be important to look at some other numbers.
One year after this income transfer or direct benefit transfer (DBT) was launched, the Centre declared that the total number of beneficiaries was “over 8.64 crore.”
But on September 6, 2022, the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare replied to a RTI query stating that the number of beneficiaries has progressively fallen from 11.8 crore in the first instalment of February 2019 to 3.87 crore in the 11th instalment (April–July 2022)—a fall of 67% in three years.
As soon as national daily The Hindu published this information on November 20, 2022, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare wrote back to call it an erroneous reflection on the functioning of the PM-Kisan scheme.
It then provided a set of data that turned the one it had provided on September 6, 2022, on its head: The number of beneficiaries progressively went up from 3.87 crore in the first instalment of February 2019 to 10.45 crore in the 11th instalment of April–July 2022. It was argued that the responsibility of maintaining the data of beneficiaries remained with the State, although the PM-Kisan is a central scheme for which the Centre provides the entire fund.
The PM-Kisan’s official website, however, provides another set of beneficiaries. Its dashboard says the 11th instalment (April–July 2022) was paid at 8.6 crore. The previous four instalments were paid to more than 11 crore beneficiaries (11.27 crore in the 10th, 11.15 crore in the 9th, 11.19 crore in the 8th, and 11.16 crore in the 7th).

Why is it such a mess?

Which number should I trust? 
To understand the mess around the number of beneficiaries, one would have to go back to the circumstances in which the PM-Kisan was announced on February 1, 2019. General elections were due a few months later (April–May 2019). Farmers were agitating for years for higher MSP and other issues. The Congress had promised Rs 6,000 per month (or Rs 72,000 per year) to 20% of the poor (50 million families) under its Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY).
Before the elections, there was a rush to pay the PM-Kisan money. Days after the announcement, the Prime Minister began the payment on February 24, even though there was little time to list and establish the bona fides of the beneficiaries, seed Aadhaar to their bank accounts, and transfer the fund.

How was this speed achieved?

The news portal Scroll investigated this in Assam. Its report published on May 11, 2022, said the state government launched a massive drive-through hired hands, canvassing through WhatsApp groups, and the active participation of local politicians. An official was quoted as saying, “Modiji’s message was: Jisko lena hai le lo. Humko vote de do,” which translates as “whoever wants the money, take it and vote for us.”
One true master stroke that helped the Modi government clinch the second term in 2019 was PM-Kisan announcement
On November 29, 2022, the Guwahati High Court ordered “appropriate action” against the State officials allegedly involved in irregularities in listing the beneficiaries after the state government told the court that 12 lakh ineligible farmers had received money and that a departmental inquiry had been initiated against 16 district agriculture officers and 98 agriculture development officers.
The Centre has long been aware of what is going on. In January 2021, in response to an RTI query, it was revealed that Rs 1,364 crore had been paid to over 20 lakh “ineligible” and “income tax payee” farmers.
Conversations with government officials in the know reveal that there has been a progressive slowdown in the payment as it became apparent that the rush to get votes had brought many ineligibles onto the list. Following this, several verifications were introduced, like matching with IT records, KYC compliance, and seeding land records of beneficiaries over the past year. It, therefore, makes more sense to believe that the number of beneficiaries is going down now (before they go up in the future).
There is yet another aspect to the PM-Kisan.

What about the landless?

While it benefits even medium (4 ha or more) and large (10 ha or more) farmers, it completely excludes the landless farmers, who constitute 55% of the total agriculture workforce, as per the 2011 Census.
By the time PM-Kisan was launched, Andhra Pradesh’s Rythu Bandhu was making waves, as was Odisha’s Kalia scheme. The Rythu Bandhu provided income support of Rs 8,000 per annum to farmers (before raising it to Rs 10,000) for all farmers, leaving out the landless (it still does). Odisha’s Kalia was giving Rs 10,000 per annum to all vulnerable (small, marginal, and debt-ridden) farm households, with a higher allocation of Rs 12,500 for the landless (which continues).
When I think about it, who deserves income support more: medium and large farmers or landless people, who make up 55% of the agricultural workforce? Three years down the line, the Centre hasn’t had time to correct this obvious flaw.
---
Source: Centre for Financial Accountability

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Living standards in 'model' Gujarat worse than major states: Govt of India document

By Rajiv Shah  Amidst raging controversy over whether the latest Government of India’s “Household Consumption Expenditure Survey 2022-23 Fact Sheet: August 2022-July 2023” suggests that India’s poverty levels are actually down to 4.5 to 5%  during the decade-long Narendra Modi rule, a state-wise breakup in the 27-page document shows that “model” Gujarat’s average consumption expenditure is far below most of the so-called developed states.

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.

Not livable in summer, Chitrakut PM-Awas houses 'push' tribals in moneylender trap

By Bharat Dogra*  Those who are in-charge of implementing the PM-Awas scheme of rural housing can rightly take pride in what has been achieved in Dafai hamlet (Karvi block, Chitrakut district, Uttar Pradesh). All the Kol tribal families here are extremely poor and vulnerable. In a rare achievement, almost all of them have received housing assistance under PM Awas. 

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Narmada Valley's fossil evidence: Ground for 'nationalists' to argue primates' India roots?

By Saurav Sarkar*  In December 1982, a geologist digging in India’s Central Narmada Valley found something he did not expect. Arun Sonakia, who at the time worked for the Geological Survey of India, unearthed a hominid fossil skullcap from the Pleistocene era. The discovery sent shockwaves through the field of paleoanthropology and put South Asia on the map of human prehistory. Some experts concluded that the skull likely belonged to a member of a predecessor species of ours, Homo heidelbergensis , or perhaps was a hybrid of homo species, while Sonakia himself suggested “ an affinity… to Homo erectus .”

Development? This tribal hamlet in Chitrakut has no toilets, no electricity connections yet

By Bharat Dogra*  As we moved away from the starting point of the Bundelkhand Expressway and a famous pilgrimage site into a side-road, the hills of Chitrakut here appeared to be more and more isolated. Another turn, and we appeared to have reached almost a dead-end. However it is here that over 80 households of the Kol tribal community have been living for a long time.