BENGALURU: A study by a group of researchers found that as many as 64 per cent of the vulnerable households (those households earning less than Rs 10,000 a month) did not possess a Jan Dhan account.
In a survey involving close to 3000 vulnerable households, researchers from Centre for Sustainable Employment (CSE) at Azim Premji University found the inefficacy of PM Jan Dhan Yojana, due to its failure to reach a large number of beneficiaries -- 64 percent of calculated vulnerable households.
In collaboration with civil society organizations across the country, the researchers conducted a
detailed phone survey with a spectrum of 4000 workers from informal and unorganized sectors.
They were across 12 states of India, to gauge the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on employment, livelihoods, and access to government relief schemes.
Of the respondents, about 80 percent earned less than Rs 10,000 per month or a sample size of 2923 households who the researcher called the 'Vulnerable Category'.
Among them, they found that 64 percent did not have a Jan Dhan account. And of the persons who did have one, just 30 percent received the transfers.
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Jan Dhan was one of the measures to alleviate the economic crisis among the vulnerable sections owing to the lockdown - wherein Rs 500 was given to females with Jan Dhan accounts.
Furthermore, the study revealed that just half of the rural and a third of the urban poor households received any cash transfers at all under the different cash transfer schemes (state and central schemes that work in tandem).
The impact of other relief measures did not paint a rosy picture either.
While the government had announced the immediate release of Rs 2000 through the PM Kissan Yojana, in March, considering the COVID19 crisis, just 1/4 of the 688 landed farmers received transfers, said the researchers.
And these were respondents who were a little more aware of the government schemes, considering their association with rights organizations.
As an awareness measure, the team also sent out SMS of the central and state-level schemes to all respondents of the survey, added the researchers.
The team, however, found that among the slew of government measures, Public Distribution System had a greater efficacy, especially in urban areas. However, even there, 15 percent of the urban and 6 percent of rural poor were still unable to procure any ration.
They also found urban poor were more vulnerable from the crisis compared to their rural counterparts -- they depended highly on informal money lenders as a major source of loans, 8 out of 10 lost their jobs, and 45 days of earnings compensated with a paltry Rs 500 Jan Dhan deposit.
The team is working towards a sample size of 5000 and will continue to follow up with the respondents to check on their recovery process. Data is updated and available on their dashboard -- ttps://cse.azimpremjiuniversity.edu.in/ .
The team made a list of recommendations of effective measures to alleviate the situation for the vulnerable:
- Universalise PDS to reach 100 percent of poor
- Ensure pulses in doubled rations and expand scheme for next 6 months
- Increase cash transfer to Rs 7,000 a month per households (works out to Rs 50 per person per day)
- Increase the net of beneficiaries for cash transfers by collating information from MNREGA, Ujjwala PDS and local registrations in urban places, instead of solely depending on Jan Dhanand PM Kissan Yojana.
- Expand MNREGA -- by introducing Urban employment guarantee scheme, increase the number of activities under NREGA to include manufacturing of masks and other equipment and contact tracing