As the nation continues to fight against COVID-19 under the lockdown situation, there is no doubt that doctors, health-workers, sanitation workers, police, and supply chain workers are fighting the situation on the frontlines. Beyond this, India needs to thank some crucial programmes and capacity building measures that were undertaken post-2014 which are now contributing immensely in keeping India’s position better. They are often ‘invisible’ but make their present and impact felt by the sheer scale that has been achieved through the persistent efforts all these years.
The Enemy, Pandemic, Stuck All of a Sudden, But We Were Fortified
Jan Dhan Accounts
₹500 per month for the next three months shall be transferred into the bank accounts of 20 crore women Jan Dhan account holders. The first instalment has already reached beneficiaries.
The Modi government in its first term launched the Jan Dhan Yojana as a part of its exercise to ensure financial inclusion of the unbanked population, which so far has brought more than 38 crore people to banks. The emphasis had been taken at the initial stage itself to open accounts mainly in the name of women family heads.
The Cylinder- Insurance Against Hunger
The 8-crore beneficiary base of Ujjwala and the LPG distribution network that was built ensuring that each village is covered has proved an even greater asset now. The government has eased the brunt of lockdown by distributing free LPG cylinders for 3 months to all Ujjwala beneficiaries. Read more in our article The Endearing Role of Ujjwala Network in Easing the Life Amidst Lockdown.
PM Kisan Enabled a quick transfer
₹14,946 crore have been transferred to 7.47 crore farmers little before the due date in order to help them mitigate the negative effects of the lockdown. Small and marginal farmers under the scheme are already registered to receive the same. This exercise, in the absence of the scheme registration, would have been an uphill task for the administration, trying to find out beneficiaries and disburse the amount when they are tied up with Corona-related response measures.
DBT with JAM Trinity
It is true that Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) existed before 2014. But what happened post-2014 is the systematic linking of the trinity of Jan Dhan- Aadhaar-Mobile to the beneficiaries’ accounts, ensuring transparency. Also, the coverage under DBT was expanded to 437 schemes and 57 ministries.
This strengthening of the DBT system has been of great help in the crisis like the present one to reach the vulnerable and give them relief. As on April 13, 2020 this is the glimpse of how the poor got various financial assistance, directly in their bank accounts.
The Humble Soap and Swachh Bharat
As everyone is aware, Swachh Bharat is the first mega programme that Modi government launched when it came to power back in 2014.
Apart from building record number of toilets across the country, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan inspired a behavioural change among people towards sanitation and hygiene. One among the many activities under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was the inculcation and popularization of handwashing practice, especially among schoolchildren.
Cut to this day, what is the most effective way of protecting oneself from Corona? It’s a simple one – handwashing frequently with a soap which is mostly in the reach of all income groups.
Strengthening of Women Self-Help Groups
Women Self-help groups (SHGs) are not a new existence, but with the Modi government it got an immense boost and expansion. Just to recall some recent developments, the 2019 budget had ensured ₹5,000 overdraft to SHG members; one woman in an SHG can get ₹1 lakh loan, while the recent budget proposed to utilise the network for rural storage capacity building by treating the members as Dhanya Laxshmi who can avail Mudra loan to strengthen the village storage scheme.
Now in the time of lockdown, 63 lakh groups, translating into 7 crore families associated with SHGs shall get another ₹10 lakh collateral free loan, taking the total amount of such loans to ₹20 lakh.
And just look at how these SHGs are helping India to fight the pandemic.
Amazing ! In India,women’s self-help groups combat the #COVID19 pandemic. More than 19 million masks have been produced by 20,000 SHGs across 27 states, in addition to over 100,000 liters of sanitizer and nearly 50,000 liters of hand wash. https://t.co/zBreEwhtJE via @WorldBank
— Amitabh Kant (@amitabhk87) April 16, 2020
Build-up Amidst the Battle, Further Fortifying the Future
This app developed by the government detects and tracks the user’s movement with the help of GPS and Bluetooth sensors, and sends out a notification if they come in contact with infected people by using its database and algorithms.
For those who downloaded the app, they may feel that this is not of a great use at this juncture, since all are at home. But once the lockdown is lifted and mobility resumes, the app may play a pivotal role in helping people to avoid infections.
With a majority of Indians having this app in the days to come, it may also be expected that the app may become a useful interface to all health-related issues in the post-Corona world.
e-NAM may get further boost
Why are we putting E-NAM, which started in 2016, in post-Corona segment? Because the lockdown experience may further push for digitised procurement of farmers’ produce, and may strengthen the case against existing APMC.
Back in November 2019, the Finance Minister made a passionate pitch for e-NAM to push it as a pan-India electronic trading platform, and urged the states to dismantle agriculture produce marketing committees.
At present time, when social distancing is the key word, e-NAM enables farmers to sell their produce without physically visiting the mandis. The platform has helped to decongest the wholesale market and make supply chain agile during the lockdown period. The minister of agriculture has recently informed that another 415 mandis will join e-NAM soon, taking the existing number from 585 to the 1,000 mark.
With Farmer Producer Organisations and recent initiatives like ‘Kisan Rath’ mobile applications to facilitate farmers and traders search for transport vehicles for primary and secondary transportation of agriculture and horticulture produce, the farm sector may digitise further in an advantageous way in the post-Corona world.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has built a mammoth, mostly invisible force, in all these days as PM, and they are helping us to sail through the crisis. But the story doesn’t end there. Going by his recent thoughts expressed on the professional social media platform Linkedin, it is apparent that he is exploring ways to turn this trying time around and create a fruitful future. Here you get a brief that provides you a glimpse into the future.