On February 24, 2019, at a click of a button, Rs 2,000 each was credited to 1.01 crore farmers in Uttar Pradesh as a part of first installment of PM-KISAN (Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi), a historical income support system for small and marginal farmers. The farmers didn’t have to run from pillar to post or relay on middlemen any more. Mindful of this, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has kickstarted the ambitious PM-KISAN Yojana. This marks a historic shift in the agriculture sector where the quick-fix and dole out model is being replaced by the much thought out model of empowerment. As the first installment of PM-KISAN has started reaching the accounts of farmers across the nation, here is how this scheme is different from so-called loan waiver exercise of the previous governments at the Centre.
Irreversible & Sustainable
This income support scheme is ensuring the welfare of small farmers not just for one time or in an election season, but for years to come in a sustainable way. Whichever government that comes at Centre, it is difficult for them to reverse this scheme as the first installment of money has already started reaching the beneficiaries’ accounts. Let’s look at some numbers that speak for themselves illustrating how the small farmers get benefited through PM-KISAN in a sustainable fashion.
- Number of farmers to be benefitted is estimated at 12 crores
- Rs 75,000 crore will be transferred to farmers’ accounts every year
- The inaugural programme in UP itself has seen the disbursement of Rs 2,021 crore directly into the bank accounts of 1.01 crore (1,010,6,880) farmers.
- Rs 6000 amount to each small and marginal farmer is divided into three installments which is a source of supplementary income spread out over a year.
Election Gimmick vs Real Action
It has become natural for political parties to pitch for farmers’ loan waiver when the elections are around the corner. Especially, Congress in its UPA era and in several recent assembly polls has increasingly tried this formula. But it has been proven that the loan waiver can serve the purpose only to an extent. How is PM-KISAN remarkably different from the loan waiver exercise? Here are the reasons.
- More often, farm loan waiver benefits the farmers with big land holdings as they are the ones who have the access to financial institutions while the small farmers in India depend on local moneylenders. By directly remitting the amount of Rs 6000 to small farmers having cultivable land upto 2 hectares in 3 instalments, PM KISAN effectively helps that segment of farmers which are large in numbers and really need the help.
- As the documents of UPA era itself states, the loan waiver which was done only once had benefitted 3.45 crore farmers with Rs. 52,275.55 crore being spent. Contrary to this, PM KISAN benefits 12 crore farmers every year to the tune of Rs 75,000 crore. Both the amount and the number of farmers covered under PM KISAN is much higher than the UPA model of quick fix that happens only once in a decade.
- The issue of farm loan waiver in some Congress-ruled states in recent times was flagged on account of discrepancies and delays as explained in our article The Reality of Congress’ Farm Loan Waiver: Possible Scam, Lies and Cruel Joke. Ghost beneficiaries were found in Rajasthan while a Madya Pradesh farmer who was supposed to get the waiver of his debt of Rs. 24,000 had got only Rs 13 as waiver, to name only few failures in implementation.
But in PM KISAN, the beneficiaries are specified and the amount goes directly to them in their bank accounts. There is no room for middlemen or any lobbyists to register the names in the beneficiary list.
Structural Systematic Implementation
PM KISAN was launched only after the infrastructure that was needed to implement it, was firmly in place. Since financial inclusion happened in a big way before the scheme was implemented with more than 34 crore people having their bank accounts under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, it enabled the direct transfer benefit to the accounts of farmers.
With the 100% neem coating of Urea, the scarcity of fertilizers has already become a thing of the past. With Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, completion of 99 major and medium irrigation projects have been put on fast track. Now, the income support measure through PM-KISAN enables the farmers to reap benefits of all these developments.
Significance of Rs 6000 in Rural Life
As we have observed in our earlier article PM-Kisan – What Does Rs. 6,000 Mean?, when one considers the cost of daily living in a rural setting, an amount of Rs. 500 per month is no small amount even today. It should be considered that the amount announced is no real income but merely a form of support to the already earned income. Moreover, with this scheme Modi government has sought to give a free hand to the farmer allowing him to make his own independent spending decision.
In its design, long term vision and transparency quotient, PM KISAN stands as a unique model addressing the concerns of farmers while also proving the government’s investment commitment to the rural economy.