India’s Social Safety Nets Successfully Weather Global Economic and Financial Crisis; Social Sector Spending on Continuous Increase; Direct Benefit Transfer Scheme Successfully Implemented in States of Jharkhand, Tripura and Maharashtra

indiaIndia with its focus on inclusive development and timely interventions has been able to ward off the ills of global economic and financial crisis better than many other countries. The global recession and the slow down have squeezed the fiscal space for most countries. However, India’s social sector spending has seen a continuous increase. According to Survey, the country contines to work on XIIth Plan initiative for “Faster, More Inclusive and More Sustainable Growth” and strives for targeted policy for the poor with minimal leakages. To achieve greater inclusive development, the share of Central Govt. expenditure (Plan and Non-Plan) on Social Service and Rural Development increased from 14.8% in 2007-08 to 17.4% in 2012-13(BE) 2007-08 to 25.1% in 2012-13.

Survey says that under Phase 2 of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIAI), 40 crores residence are to be enrolled before end 2014. As of December 2012, 25 crores Aadhaars had been generated and approximately 20.00 crore aadhaars letters has been dispatched. Pilots on Direct benefit transfers (DBT) have also been successfully conducted in the States of Jharkhand, Tripura and Maharashra to transfer monetary benefits related to social welfare schemes. Survey says that about 10.5 crore children benefitted under the mid-day meals programme during 2011-12.

According to Survey, through Bharat Nirman Programme, the country strives to achieve a higher degree of rural- urban integration and an even pattern of growth and opportunities for the poor and disadvantaged. During 2012-13 as against of physical target of 30.10 lakhs houses, 25.35 lakhs houses were sanctioned and 13.88 lakhs had been constructed as on 31st December, 2012. The Unit assistance provided under the Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) is being revised w.e.f 1st April, 2013 from Rs.45,000 to Rs.70,000/ in plain areas and from Rs.48,500/ to Rs.75,000/ in hilly/ difficult areas/integrated action plan districts. 82 left wing extremisms affected districts have been made eligible for this higher rate of unit assistance. Under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sarak Yojna (PMGSY), a sum of Rs.l02658 to have been released to the States and about Rs. 96939 crore spent by December, 2012. A total of 3,63,652 Km. road length connecting nearly 90,000 habitations has been completed. About 74% of rural habitations are fully covered under the provision of the safe drinking water.

Quoting the latest Human Development Report 2011, the Survey finds that the Human Development Index for India ws 0.547 in 2011 within overall global ranking of 134. ( Out of 187 countries) compared to 119 (out of 169 countries) in HDR 2010. Survey points out that the India is ranked 129 in terms of the gender inequality index(GII) which highlights the loss in achievement due to gender disparities in the areas of reproductive health, empowerment and labour force participation. The Survey mentions that the infant mortality rate (IMR) which was 58 per thousand in the year 2005 has fallen to 44 in the year 2011. The Survey highlights that not only the inequality in India is lower than many other developing countries

The Survey finds that the last decade 2000-2010 witnessed an employment growth of 1.6% per annum. Quoting NSSO Survey 2009-10 the survey says that the modest employment growth in second half of the decade was on account of a lower Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR). The growth of those in labour force declined possibly on account of greater number of persons opting for education /skill development. The unemployment rate infact decline between 2004-05 and 2009-10 both in rural and urban areas implying that relatively large proportions of persons who will willing to work, were actually employed.

The Survey finds out that while some states have performed well in terms of growth indicators, they have performed poorly in terms of poverty, rural-urban disparity, unemployment, education, health and financial inclusion. According to Survey, Bihar has the highest decadal (2001-11) growth rate of population(25%) while Kerala has the lowest rate (4.9%). In 2011, Kerala has the highest sex ratio ( 1084), while Haryana is at the bottom (877). In terms of growth Bihar is the best performer (16.7%), Rajasthan is the worst (5.4%). Highest Poverty Head Count Ratio (HCR) exists in Bihar (53.5) while lowest is in Himachal Pradesh (9.5%). The unemployment rate is the lowest in Gujarat (18) and highest in Kerala and Bihar(73) in Urban areas and the lowest in Rajasthan (4) and again highest in Kerala (75) in rural areas. Kerala is the best performer in terms of life expectancy at birth whereas Assam is the worst performer in both males and females. Based on above findings, the Surveys calls for a rethink on the criteria used for devolution of funds to states.

The Government is following a focused approach through various flagship schemes in the areas of poverty alleviations and employment generation. The Survey points out that under MNREGA, out of total outlay of Rs.33,000 crores approved for 2012-13, Rs.25,894 crores has been released. About 4.39 crores household have been provided employment of 156 crores person days. Approximately, 168.46 lakhs Swarozjaris have been assisted with Bank credit and subsidy under Aajeevika ( SGSY/NRLM). Out of Annual Budgetary Provision of Rs.838 crores for the Swaran Jayanti, Shahri Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY) for the year 2012-13, Rs.516.77 crores have been released and a more than 4.07 lakh people have benefited from this scheme. A total of 290 lakh lives under the Janshree Bima Yojana (JBY) and 179 lakhs lives under Aam Aadmi Bima Yojana have been covered till December, 2012. Under Rashtriya Swasth Bima Yojana (RSBY) more than 3.34 crores Smart Cards have been issued in 27 States/UTs till 31st December 2012.