Updated December 3, 2020
India is a welfare state and empowerment of weaker sections is the priority of the government of India. The Directive Principles of State Policy puts certain obligations on the state to provide social welfare schemes for the vulnerable sections of the society. The vulnerable sections of our society include SC, ST, OBCs, backward classes, women, senior citizens, children, Divyang, third gender, minorities etc. To provide assistance to the vulnerable sections, the government come up with various schemes and Programmes like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, PMGAY, Post-metric scholarships for SC students, SRMS, etc. Such schemes are conceptualized at the ministerial level and implemented at the grass-root level for the welfare of the vulnerable sections of the society. The welfare includes the overall human social, political, economic development of these sections with a variety to achieve dignity and liberty of individuals by enhancing choices and offerings opportunities of growth.
Welfare Schemes Implemented for the Vulnerable Sections:
Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY): IGMSY is a scheme for pregnant and lactating women. It is a conditional maternity benefit scheme. This scheme is a centrally sponsored scheme and the amount is given as grants to states and union territories. It helps to compensate for the loss of wage prior and after the delivery of the employers.
Although the government has come up with this scheme, it does not cover the last mile of the expectations. It has some limitations like poor coverage, lack of awareness among pregnant women, inaccessibility of banks and posts offices, Delayed payments in many states etc.
Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG)-Sabla: The core aim of this scheme is to provide all-round development of Adolescent girls of age 11 to 18 years. It is a centrally sponsored scheme providing assistance for the non-nutritional and nutritional component. The State government and Union Territories implement this scheme.
National Overseas Scholarship for SC Candidates: This scheme has been implemented for the SC candidates for Master’s level and PhD programs in foreign countries.
National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC): It has been set up for providing loans with low-interest rate to SC families and providing skill training to SC youth.
Van Bandhu Kalyan Yojana: Van Bandhu Kalyan Yojana is launched for the welfare of the tribal people. It helps to avail all the related welfare scheme implemented by the central and state government for the tribal people. This scheme pertains the following components-
(a) To Provide quality Infrastructure
(b) Improving the quality of life in tribal areas
(c) Improving Tribal Human Development Indices
(d) Providing quality education to the tribal people
(e) To Provide employment opportunities for tribal families
(f) Protection of Tribal culture and heritage
Accessible India Campaign (SUGAMYA BHARATH ABHIYAN):
It is a nationwide flagship campaign. The aim of this campaign is to make a barrier-free and conducive environment for Divyang Jans (Persons with Disabilities – PwDs) all over the country.
Prime Minister’s New 15-point program: It aims at all-round development of minorities including education, employment, conditions of living etc.
Nai Manzil Scheme: It was launched for providing formal education and skill training to youth who are studying in religious minority schools. This scheme aims at improving their employability in the organized sector and to lead better lives. For Example, Madrasas of Muslims majorly impart religious education.
Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS): IGNOAPS aims to provide an old-age pension for persons above the age of 60 years. A pension of Rs 200 per month for beneficiaries aged 60 to 79 and Rs 500 per month for beneficiaries aged 80 years and above is provided under this scheme.
Annapurna: Senior citizens who are eligible under IGNOPAS but not covered by it will receive 10 kg of free rice every month.
In order to eradicate the disparity and welfare of the vulnerable sections, the government of India has carried out various schemes. But the service or delivery of the schemes does not cover the last mile. It is due to the various flaws in the implementation of the schemes and program.
Ineffective Performance of Welfare Schemes is due to-
The problem of Identification:
At the time of identification, the people for whom the scheme is carried out do not know about the scheme. The people are needed to be involved in the policymaking process so that their valuable inputs can enhance the process.
For instances- Although the central government has come up with minimum Support Price (MSP), it failed to provide effective support to the marginal farmers. Like in 2018-2019, it just 12% of the 33 million farmers who were growing wheat availed of the government’s scheme. The rest of them moved to Mandis to sell their crops, whose access was usually controlled by middlemen and where market prices are often below government MSPs. This is a case of the problem of identification and also the price is not fixed based on the consultation with the farmers.
This is a case of lack of awareness among the farmers and also the price is not fixed based on the consultation with the farmers.
In India, people belonging to a different gender, caste, class and ethnic identity experience structural discrimination that impacts their health, education and access to other services. Structural discrimination directly hampers equal access to health services by way of exclusion.
For example- In India, despite many programmes and schemes has been carried by the government for the empowerment of women, it stills fail to provide effective service to the last mile. Women’s participation in the workplace is just only 28% in India. Women are doing well in politics, health and education, but the gap is continually growing. Many things keep Indian women out of the workplace, from inherent patriarchy, safety concerns, prevalent stereotypes and the difficulty in gaining a foothold in male-dominated jobs. It can be said that structural discrimination has held women back.
So, it is the need of the time for India to effectively address the issue and curtails the growing gap of women’s participation.
A major proportion of the lower castes and Dalits are still dependent on others for their livelihood. Dalits do not refer to caste but suggest group who are in a state of oppression, social disability and who are helpless and poor.
For Instances- Microfine schemes are spreading in India in the form of Swayam Sahayata Samooh (self-help groups) leading to economic uplift not only for the marginalised sections but many. Several NGOs and social welfare organisations have come forward to provide support to these activities. Rajiv Gandhi Mahila Vikas Pariyojana (RGMVP), Vaibhavshree etc. like schemes have remarkably helped the many marginalised women. It has helped much weakest community’s women like Chamar, Pasi, Dhobi and Kori etc. The benefits of these schemes are yet to reach the weakest of Dalits Communities.
There could many causes that prevent them to avail the support of these schemes. It might happen that they are not in the visibility of the agencies of these schemes or lack the empowerment to come forward take part in such initiatives. Even, many Dalit communities have settled in the outskirts of the villages and towns and due to which they rarely muster the capacity to involve in these initiatives.
So, it can be said that microfinance schemes have a huge potential for social upliftment of the marginalised sections of the society. All efforts should be made to ensure they do not lose out.
Human Resources and Skills:
Most of the government-run schemes face the challenge of both the number and quality of manpower while implementation.
For example, reports show the poor pupil to teacher ratio and quality of education is such that student of class VII is not able to read the textbook of class III and perform basic arithmetic operations.
Field Level Monitoring and Beneficiary Verification:
Insufficient monitoring by the central government, misalignment of incentives and a lack of accountability in the fund usage distorts the management of funds. It is one of the major drawbacks of the ineffective performance of welfare schemes.
Example- The Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme (BBBPS) is a flagship program run by the central government to ensure the survival, protection, and education of the girl child. The program has failed in a few districts because of a lack of policy implementation, diversion of funds and the failure of monitoring mechanisms. This is a case where the central government are not involved in the policy monitoring process.
Financial Resources Crunch:
In most of the central scheme, funds are devolved to the district through the state administration. There is a shortage of funds as they could not get the appropriate amount or stuck at the level of state administration. This leads to funding crunch and inappropriate implementation of the schemes.
For Instance- MNREGA aims at enhancing the livelihood security of people in rural areas by guaranteeing hundred days wage employment in a financial year to a rural household whose adult members (at least 18 years of age) volunteer to do unskilled work. The central government bears the full cost of unskilled labour, and 75% of the cost of material (the rest is borne by the states). The Ministry of Rural Development (MRD), Government of India in association with state governments, monitors the implementation of the scheme.
But in recent news of 26th January, there was a fund crunch in MNREGA. According to the MNREGA scheme’s financial statement. The central government is on the verge of running out of funds for the scheme. Due to an increase in demand for MNREGA workers, the amount spent by the Rajasthan has overshot the budget of Rs. 600 crores. 14 other States/U.T. have overshot the budget as of January 26.
Corruption in the Schemes:
The lack of monitoring the schemes or lack of awareness of people will create a golden opportunity for miscreants to misuse the scheme for their own benefit. The intended beneficiaries will not gain anything out of it. Even, the corruption in the scheme will lead to a severe loss of beneficiaries.
Ex: PM Awaas Yojana provides monetary funds for supporting people to build their own houses. If people are not aware, then middlemen will swallow the funds in the name of dummy beneficiaries.
Or In 2013, in the Mid-day Meal tragedy in Bihar, 23 children were killed after eating contaminated cooked food. The scheme which provides lunch to nearly 120 million children in India every day facing a lack of monitoring and hygiene, and also huge corruption.
Poverty and socio-Economic constraints: These constraints exclude the people belonging to lower strata of the economic ladder as they cannot afford new communication technologies. Apart from this, poor network coverage further denies public goods and services.
The policies are made at the ministerial level but implemented at the state, district and village levels. Hence, there is a need to strengthen grassroots governance. Though the schemes provide broader guidelines, grassroots planning is required for implementing the schemes taking various parameters of development into account. Poor planning and coordination lead to errors in the implementation of welfare schemes and programmes. So, without proper coordination, planning, executive etc. it is not possible to deliver services to the last mile. Also, proper feedback should be channelized to the policymakers to modify the systemic flaws. There are several examples of successful implementation of schemes when the goal is completely target. Government adequately tackled several diseases such as polio, malaria, and HIV when the target was well-publicized and clear.
The welfare schemes and programmes are required to uplift the weakest of Dalits communities. It means these vulnerable sections need special assistance and care from the state for their well-being. Without state help, they will have to face many disadvantages and will not be able to avail fair and equal life choices as those enjoyed by other citizens. The participatory and collaborative approach enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of the welfare schemes and can lead to better targeting and outcomes.