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Farmers are prioritized by governments around the world. In India, the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN), a central sector scheme, has been approved by the government to provide financial support to Small and Marginal landholding farmer families having cultivable land.
The scheme aims to supplement monetary desires of the farmers in getting different inputs related to agriculture and allied activities as well as domestic needs to ensure crop health and correct yields proportionate to the expected financial gain of the farm. With 100% central funding, an income of Rs. 6000/annum is provided to farmers in three equal instalments of Rs. 2000 each under this scheme.
Purpose of introducing the scheme
The objective of the scheme is to augment the income of Small and Marginal Farmers (SMFs). Any farmer who cultivates a land less than 2.0 hectares falls within the ambit of SMF. It aims to supplement financial needs in procurement of inputs which will help the farmers in growing healthy crops and attain appropriate yield. In addition to this, the scheme aims to save the farmers from the clutches of money lenders and ensures that they are able to farm without any dependence on them. The direct benefit transfer, which is a new concept introduced by the government, is being furthered by this scheme.
This programme is completely funded by Government of India. Around 8 crore beneficiaries have been registered for the scheme. The programme was made effective from 1st December 2018 and the first instalment for the period up to 31st March 2019 was paid during this year itself. This programme entails an annual expenditure of Rs.75, 000 crore. PM-KISAN does not solely provide assured supplemental monetary benefit to the most vulnerable farmer families, but tries to also meet their emerging wants particularly before the harvest season.
The scheme is being counted on to pave the way for the farmers to earn and live a respectable living. Unlike the one time loan waivers, PM KISAN is truly an empowering project designed for ensuring dignified life for small scale farmers. The scheme in long run will address the issues such as farmer migration and improve crop intensity.
Salient Features of the Scheme
- The scheme has been given a retrospective application; it has been given effect from 1st December 2018, whereas the cut-off date for determining the eligibility of beneficiaries under the scheme is 1st February 2019. The benefit is transferred on account of change in ownership of land.
- Several categories of beneficiaries with higher economic status are not eligible to take benefit under the scheme. These include all institutional land holders, farmer families in which one or more members have held or are holding constitutional posts; have been or are Ministers/State Ministers etc.
- Family for the purpose of the scheme means a family comprising of husband, wife and minor children. Thus, the number of beneficiaries estimated on the basis of Agricultural Census 2015-16 data for 2018-19 stands at 12.5 crores after exclusion of certain higher economic strata.
- For the financial year 2018-19 a total amount of Rs.20,000 crore has been sanctioned and a vision of Rs. 75,000 crore has been estimated for financial year 2019-20.
- Aadhar is mandatory for availing benefits under the scheme, however there was exemption and beneficiaries were allowed use alternative document for the first instalment of FY 2018-19. Additionally, states of Assam, Meghalaya and J&K were given exemption till 31st March 2020 from mandatory Aadhar.
- The implementation task, except the identification of families, stays with the Centre for the most part. There is a provision for central level Project Monitoring Unit (PMUs) and a Monitoring Committee headed by cabinet secretary.
- In case there are land parcels possessed by family members distributed across various revenue records in the same or different villages, then in such cases land is pooled to determine the benefits under the scheme. In case of joint holding the profit is transferred to the bank account of the person in the family with highest quantum of landholding. If the quantum of arable land held by 2 or more individual members of the family is the same, then the benefit is transferred to the bank account of the elder or the eldest, as the case may be, in that particular farmer family
- In few of the North Eastern States, the land proprietorship rights are community based and it might not be possible to assess the number of Land holder farmers. In such States an alternate implementation mechanism for eligibility of the farmers has been developed and approved by the Committee of Union Ministers of Ministry of Development of North East Region (DoNER), Ministry of Land Resources, Union Agriculture Minister and concerned State Chief Ministers or their Ministerial representative, based on the proposal by the concerned North Eastern States.
- There exists a stratified review/monitoring mechanism at National, State and District Level. At the National level, the Review Committee is headed by Cabinet Secretary. The States advise the State and District Level Review/Monitoring Committee. The States additionally notify State and District Level Grievance Redressal Monitoring Committees to take a look into all the grievances associated with implementation of the scheme. Any grievances or complaints that are received are disposed of on merit ideally within a period of two weeks.
- A Project Monitoring Unit (PMU) at Central level has been installed in DAC&FW. This PMU has been tasked with the responsibility of overall observation of the scheme and is headed by Chief Executive Officer (CEO). PMU shall additionally undertake promotion campaign (Information, Education and Communication-IEC).
Critical Analysis of the Scheme
PM-KISAN Yojana is the first step towards universal basic income(UBI), UBI is safety measure against sudden job losses. UBI is a medium which will benefit farmer and boost productivity which in turn will increase their earning. This will benefit the overall economy in long run. However, there is another side to the coin too. People getting UBI might use it for some other purposes rather than using it for the land. For example, UBI may be used for buying gadgets or some other household stuff and it is highly likely that it will be used for alcohol consumption.
There are implementation issues as well. There are three period in a year for instalments after every four months; if a farmer enrols in the middle he will lose out on other instalments. Data on record shows that people are not aware about the scheme, and that is why this process is time-consuming. The total enrolment at the end of October, 2019, as per Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare (MoAFW), stands at 7.62 crore, whereas the vision was for 12.5 crore farmers. In addition to this, the benefit of the scheme is only available to farmers who cultivate land up to 2 hectares; the government has missed out on other farmers which include tenant farmers and landless labours.
Aadhar is yet another boon and bane for the implementation of any direct benefit transfer scheme in India. Compulsory linking of Aadhar was relaxed till November period of the scheme, but now the government is pushing hard for its implementation. This means that only those farmers will be able to avail the benefits of the scheme who have bank accounts and have linked those accounts with their Aadhar. Though government has made many efforts to link Aadhar with bank accounts, it is too early to impose such stringent conditions for farmers, who, we don’t expect to be educated enough to go through the process.
There is a lot PM-KISAN Yojana can borrow from KALIA (Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income augmentation), the scheme launched by Odisha government which provides Rs 5,000 per SMF, twice a year, that is Rs 10,000 a year, and build on it.
PM KISAN Yojana is undoubtedly a great step in the right direction but it will need refinement every now and then as any scheme depends more on the authority who implements it rather than the one who drafts it. The accrual of benefits could be made easier for the time being i.e. certain documents can be mandatory only after having requisite infrastructure. The amount of income can be increased slightly – there were talks of increasing it to Rs. 8,000 but nothing substantial came out of it. Moreover, the mechanism for registering farmers should be much easier. It has been a year and by this time almost 10 crore farmers should have been enrolled as opposed to the current 7.62. Lastly, the state governments should implement it keeping aside the political rivalries, which is a big reason for the delay in implementation of any scheme.
Authors: Prakhar Raghuvanshi from National Law University, Jodhpur and Akanksha Batra from Symbiosis Law School, Pune.
Editor: Ismat Hena from Faculty of Law, Jamia Millia Islamia.