Prime Minister Narendra Modi rolled out the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM- KISAN) scheme by transferring the first instalment of Rs. 2000 each to over 10 million farmers in Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, which is the largest province of India. Initiating the electronic transfer of the ‘Kisan Samman Nidhi’, Mr. Modi said “This scheme has been made foolproof and will be implemented with complete transparency, and asked the state governments to come forward with a list of farmers who would be its beneficiaries”. Mr. Modi added the Rs. 75,000 crore scheme has been given budgetary allocation.
India is an agrarian economy. It is one of the largest producers of agricultural products. Indian is also big exporter of rice and wheat. Agriculture provides livelihood to about 55 per cent of the population and its’ contribution to the GDP is around 14 percent. However, the agriculture growth has not been keeping pace with other sectors. In the last decade or so, agricultural growth has been hovering between 3 to 4 per cent per annum. Also, the farmers are not getting proper prices for their produce.
The government has initiated a number of reforms and boosted the ‘Minimum Support Prices’ (MSP) to boost the income of the farming community. Several states too have come up with their own schemes to boost the incomes of the farmers. The PM-Kisan scheme would help the farmers to meet certain expedient expenditure for their needs. The one of its kind scheme is not a “loan waiver”. The scheme is expected to be a bonus for the farmers.
There had been calls for a “loan waiver”, but the government did not consider that option as it has a cascading effect and has a huge burden on the economy. Prime Minister Modi while launching the PM-KIsan scheme said, in the year 2008, the total debt of the country’s farming community was Rs.7,50,000 crores; out of which only Rs.52,000 crores was waived by the then government.
The government is committed for doubling the income of farmers by 2022. The scheme is a part of government’s effort to address farm sector distress, caused by lower sales realization on bumper production of food grains, oil seeds, and sugarcane, cotton and horticulture crops. In the Interim Budget, 2019-20, the central government had announced the PM–KISAN scheme under which Rs. 6,000 per year will be given in three instalments to 120 million small and marginal farmers holding cultivable land up to two hectares. The scheme has been made effective from this fiscal itself as a result; farmers would get the first instalment before March end this year.
It is a centrally sponsored scheme with 100 per cent funding from the Union government. For transfer of benefit, district-wise beneficiaries’ list has to be certified and uploaded by the States/Union Territories on the PM-KISAN portal of the central government. The scheme is effective from December 1, 2018 for transfer of benefit to the eligible farmers.
PM-KISAN scheme would not only provide assured supplemental income to the vulnerable farming families, but would also meet their needs especially before the harvest season. In fact, the Prime Minister Modi had been right in saying that “the loan waivers would have been easy and convenient for his government. But, he said the government wanted to give something unique to the farmers. The PM KISAN Samman Nidhi Scheme is a step in the right direction to encourage and empower the small and medium farmers against any vagaries of nature. The intention of the government to help the farmers in distress should not be guided by any electoral or political compulsions.
Script: Yogesh Sood, Journalist