NEW DELHI: Amidst the debate on possible fall-outs of the Supreme Court judgement pronouncing privacy as fundamental right, on Aadhaar related government schemes, an ASSOCHAM–Thought Arbitrage Report Card of three years of the Narendra Modi Government has noted that the biometric cards have facilitated as much as Rs 83,184 crore to beneficiaries of the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) schemes, without the notorious leakages of the past.
“Real benefit of Jan Dhan and Aadhaar is finally reflected in the number of beneficiaries of government DBT schemes. The amount of funds transferred under DBT schemes between 1st January 2013 and 31st March 2017 is Rs 83183.79 crores but the real achievement lies not in the amount disbursed, rather in the fact that these amounts were disbursed with minimum leakages or malpractices and that is important in terms of good governance,” the study said.
Coincidentally, the ASSOCHAM –Thought Arbitrage study has been released just about the time when the nation would now be debating about the impact of the Supreme Court judgement on privacy on Aadhaar cards –based schemes.
Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) schemes have resulted into weeding out 3.34 crore duplicate consumers under PaHAL and a further 2.33 crore ration cards being deleted, bringing transparency in governance of subsidy. Total savings under DBT has been Rs 49,500 crores till December 2016. DBT savings have been highest under the PaHaL scheme, amounting to Rs 26,408 crores till December 2016.
Commenting on the Supreme Court judgement, the ASSOCHAM Secretary General DS Rawat said, the landmark verdict by the 9-judge Constitution Bench does provide a window for the Aadhaar related government schemes. While commending to the Union Government the need to put in place a robust regime for data protection and a sensitive balance between the individual interests and legitimate concerns of the state, the judgement clearly stated that “ the legitimate aim of the state would include for instance , protecting national security….. and preventing the dissipation of social welfare benefits”.
Rawat said when the apex court talks about prevention of “dissipation of social welfare benefits”, therein lies a window for Aadhaar cards, in so far as its applicability on the DBT and other welfare measures is concerned. Total subsidy paid under DBT in 2016-17 is Rs 74,502 crore. The new target is to cover 534 schemes in by March 2018, out of which 300 are cash schemes and more than 200 are in-kind schemes. Hence, Cash Subsidy paid under DBT is expected to increase to Rs 1 lakh crore subsequently.
Rating it, on the Performance Matrix, as a scheme with“ Significant Progress Made”, the ASSOCHAM report card of the government said the ‘Prime Minister Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY)’ is the backbone of financial inclusion, and the first step of creating bank accounts for hitherto uncovered population has been done quite efficiently within a short span of time. Even the Brookings Institute in its Financial and Digital Inclusion Report has rated India with among the top countries on score with high government commitment and regulatory environment but in their view adoption of financial and digital inclusion needs to be enhanced.