Welfare schemes and new pension cases

Any society worth the name is incomplete socially, culturally and even ethically if it neglects its members falling in the segments of old age with no means of subsistence, widows, divorcees, women in distress, differently abled and in other categories demanding attention, importance and care. Governments all over in developing countries are introducing welfare schemes specially tailored for each of the vulnerable groups. Accordingly, with the reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories, hopes are doubly pinned by such groups in the new system about their welfare and sustenance. It is, however, very nice of the Lieutenant Governor G. C. Murmu in having approved new pension cases under the umbrella of Integrated Social Security Scheme (ISSS) and National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) respectively.
It may be noted that Integrated Social Security Scheme (ISSS) is State sponsored with provisions to pay cash assistance on monthly basis to these groups. The other welfare scheme, National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) is sponsored scheme administered by the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India and is implemented in rural as well as in urban areas of the country. This scheme has the ‘distinction’ of being related to Directive Principles of State Policy enshrined in the Constitution of India. Hence a blend of both the schemes principally aimed at providing financial assistance to the identified groups assume great importance.
There are certain pertinent questions with regard to these schemes from the angle of their implementation. Whether proper and foolproof identification of the eligible members is being regularly done and records updated? Whether the periodicity of such surveys is specified and if there are proper checks and balances methods in place and the same employed to have the identification and registration with Social Welfare Department in a transparent form? Whether regular reviews are being done ? Whether a proper mechanism was in place to ensure that the beneficiaries were falling under the ‘Below the Poverty Line’ category?
It may be noted that there were 6.13 lakh beneficiaries eligible under the above twin schemes and already deriving the benefits there – from but at the same time, more than three lakh other cases were still pending with the Social Welfare Department. Out of those, at least 1 30 lakh new pension cases under these very two schemes have been identified and approval accorded by the Lt. Governor which is a step, though much required, taken in right direction. In other words, the total number of such beneficiaries shall now be nearly 7.50 lakh. Social Welfare Department is required to go overboard in speedily arranging disposal of other pending cases to achieve 100 percent coverage of the beneficiaries and in that case, even take up the matter with the concerned Union Ministry so that it could proudly send ‘ nil ‘ pendency information to the administration.
No form of Government or any administrative apparatus worth the name could be of any utility to those who were from the poorest segments of our society if they continued to be neglected for whatever reasons and for that purpose, the greater responsibility was on the field personnel of the Social Welfare Department for identifying such persons in order to receive the fixed cash amount under Direct Benefit Transfer but regularly and in time. Lt. Governor’s advice is therefore apt and timely in that he has directed the concerned personnel of the Department to involve the Panchayat representatives too in making the most important process of identification meaningful and pointed. Though the amount of Rs.1000 per month could not be considered any more than meagre but still it was going to help the needy a lot.