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Three Cheers For Bhamashah As It Scores Big On Financial Inclusion, Women Empowerment And Service Delivery (Swarajya)
December 14, 2017
From the article:
The Government of India’s subsidy bill runs in lakhs of crores. On top of that, there are separate welfare programmes at the state level. Until 2014, the system of subsidy delivery to the poor was poorly managed. It was leaky, inefficient and serving as a vehicle for middleman to make easy moolah. However, things have changed a lot in the last three years. The welfare delivery setup is now transparent and convenient. The government is saving thousands of crores, and the benefits are reaching those for whom it is intended.
This transformation was brought about with the help of three elements. Aadhaar – a programme conceived by the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government – is one of them. It remained directionless for years and was thought of as another scheme like the population register or the ration card until Prime Minister Narendra Modi came in and turned it into a powerful policy tool by combining it with his Jan Dhan initiative, under which crores of new bank accounts were opened for the poor. Today, the Supreme Court is hearing a case where the government’s decision to link Aadhaar with bank accounts is in the dock.
Whatever is the judgment of the apex court, the government will eventually have to create a system which protects data and ensures greater privacy. It’s slowly moving in that direction and India’s new data protection regime is taking shape.
Meanwhile, the poor are welcoming the new welfare regime. A survey, by the Center for Global Development (CGD), of 633 beneficiaries of Rajasthan government’s Bhamashah scheme proves this to be the case. The scheme’s aim is to spur financial inclusion, promote women empowerment and improve service delivery of welfare schemes.
Bhamashah was envisaged by the state government as an umbrella programme to deliver all cash and kind welfare transfers to the poor households. Under the programme, a woman must be the head of the family.
Regarding financial inclusion, the CGD survey found that nearly all households now have at least one bank account while the maximum number of those surveyed said there were two bank accounts in their household.