PM-Kisan: Wrongly Targeted, Wrongly Executed, No Benefits to Farmers

The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan) was supposed to be a game-changer for the farmers in India. However, there is not going to be any perceptible change for the intended beneficiaries – the farmers. Why? Read on.

Who are to benefit – Farmers / Land owners?

The divergence of the benefit starts from the name of the scheme itself and the supposed beneficiaries. The scheme names Kisan – Farmers as beneficiaries and goes on to deposit money in the accounts of the land owners.

Are these two the same? Maybe, but not at all necessary. However, what to do? Government of India has no data on tenant farmers.

Who works in the farms – Landless labourers / Land owners?

The question to be raised is – Who is the actual farmer? One who works and toils in the fields under the scorching sun or the one who happen to own the land and employ the labour to do the back-breaking tasks.

Are these two the same? Maybe, but not at all necessary. However, what to do? Government of India has no data on landless labourers.

Who should get the cash transfer in the family – Woman / Man?

PM-Kisan would have been an excellent tool to promote gender empowerment in the family. The scheme could have made it mandatory to deposit money in the bank account of the woman of the family. It would have served multiple purposes.

Does the money going to the man imply that money has actually reached the family? Maybe, but not at all necessary. However, what to do? Government of India has no data on women of the family.

What about the land size?

PM-Kisan scheme is not linked to the size of the farmer’s land. It is common sensical that input costs will vary as per the farm size of the small and marginal farmers. The scheme considers one size fits all approach for the cash transfer.

Does this approach provide any meaningful support to the farmers? Maybe, but not at all necessary. However, what to do? Government of India has no data about the farmers’ land-holding. I suspect this is the reason that now all the farmers, big and large, and not just small and marginal, are included in the scheme. Government of India has no data on how to differentiate the farmers.

Leave aside the above queries. Government of India will say that the intention matters. The scheme cannot wait for such finer points. Ok, let us see the execution to date.

Where and which are the farmers that PM-Kisan has benefitted?

PM-Kisan was made effective retrospectively from December 1, 2018. Government of India budgeted Rs. 75,000 Cr for the scheme to be paid in three instalments to the farmers. Today is 8th July 2019. Seven months have passed by and the expenditure for the scheme should be two/third of the budgeted amount. However, only 17% of the estimated Rs. 75,000 Cr expenditure has been spent (Source: The Hindu, 4th July, Op-Ed). The variance is 50%.

This means that there is Rs. 37,500 Cr with the government that should have been deposited in farmers’ accounts by now. But it has not happened. Why would this be? There will be many reasons floated around. The elections, the code of conduct, non-cooperation of some state governments.

The reality is that Government of India has neither the data nor the will to executive this scheme, or rather any schemes. You feel it is a sweeping statement. Ok fine, you tell me. What should the 50% variance be called? You can also check Ayushman Bharat, I did not find the 50 Cr beneficiaries either for that scheme.

And we talk about rural distress and the slow-down of the economy. Wonder what effect Rs. 37,500 Cr would have had on rural consumption? Though, it will help the Government of India to keep their fiscal deficit in check, as no money leaves the government coffers.

The PM-Kisan takeaway

Once on a jobs debate, Amitabh Kant said that if the jobs were not getting created and the unemployment was so high, there would have been riots on the streets. But, there are no riots. So, he implied that everybody is gainfully employed. Similarly, here also the said gentleman can mouth a statement that since there are no farmer agitations/rallies, all farmers should have received the amount. Just a small niggle that, the data in the public domain about the execution of PM-Kisan does not support his claim.

Leave him. The beneficiaries could not care less, for they know that it is not worthwhile to bang their heads against the mighty Government of India. Nothing will ever come out of it, they will lose their livelihood for no benefit, even the one they were supposed to get.

This is the governance of our country and our, as citizens, response to that. You decide.

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