The central government’s ambitious “Aapka Paisa Aapke Haath” scheme or the Aadhaar based Direct Cash Transfer scheme launched on New Year in 20 districts covering a total of 7 various schemes as a part of first phase of the DCT implementation. The opening day witnessed direct cash transfer to 2000 beneficiaries through their Aadhar cards and the sources have reported that Rs. 35 lakh were transferred to 8 different banks by the government for transferring them directly into the accounts of the beneficiaries. Earlier finance minister announced that the first phase of the rollout will cover 43 districts divided into three sub-phases covering 20 districts in January, 11 in February and 12 in March and all these three sub-phases will include a total of 26 government schemes. The first launch covers 20 districts from 6 states and 3 union territory viz. Puducherry and Daman and Diu. These states are Karnataka, Punjab, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. Directly transferring the cash will benefit to about 2 lakh people in the country. The government has already said that food, fertilizer, diesel and kerosene are not being transferred at present through this scheme. The government is expecting to implement this scheme in the entire nation before the beginning of 2014.
The launch of the scheme has also given birth to debate on its effects. The biggest question is that whether this will really bring benefits to the people or is just a weapon of the UPA government for the 2014 general elections. While the government is confident about the fact that it will check corruption and the beneficiary will get the right amount, politicians and critics have asked the questions that people from remote rural areas and many backward regions even do not know about the banking facilities then how will their bank accounts be opened? And if thought for a while that their bank account is opened then how will they operate without a bank in their village?
Through this scheme the difference between the market price and the subsidized price of a commodity will be credited into the account of the beneficiary. For instance, suppose that a person is provided kerosene @ Rs. 15 per litre at a ration shop its market price is Rs. 28 per litre then Rs. 13 per litre will be credited into the bank account of that person. This will enable him to buy the kerosene at the market price from the ration shop. This means that the subsidy expenditure from the government will reach completely to the beneficiary and will eliminate the role of middleman in the entire process. According to the present system the government pays the subsidy amount to the kerosene company and the person buys the kerosene from the ration shop at the subsidized rate. The government says that every person do not buys the entire ration due to which misuse is done. The government also says that the cheap kerosene is used in mixing it with high price petrol and diesel like fuel. This not only has adverse effect on the environment but also negatively affects the engine in which the mixture is used. Though the government has left out food, fertilizer, diesel and kerosene at present, they will be integrated with the DCT after finding the scheme suitable for them. However, the pilot project in Alwar, Rajasthan was used on kerosene. The government has also called this scheme as the ‘game changer’.
This scheme is also considered important because at present about Rs. 3 lakh crore are spent in subsidy which is about 3.5% of the country’s GDP. Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tiwari said that this is a revolutionary step which will have a good effect. He added that though there will be some hindrances initially in its implementation, it should not be understood that the government has any other intention regarding this. The difficulties which will arise in the beginning will be learned and will then be resolved in the later phases.
However, political analysts are disagreeing with the government’s remarks. Political science professor Dr. Gopal Prasad Singh says that certainly the implementation of DCT will remove the role of middleman and will control the corruption, the government should also notice that there are remote rural villages where even the electricity and roads are not available then what to think about banks.
Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh said that to hurry up the enrollment process, he will talk with the officials of the UIDAI as the Aadhar card based Direct Cash Transfer scheme is launched in 20 districts on January 1, 2013. He said that the enrollment speed is slow in some districts, I will talk with the UIDAI authorities. He was on a 3 days visit in naxal affected areas in Jharkhand which ended on 1 January.