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National Social Assistance Programme

Context

The Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) diverted funds from the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) for publicising some of its other schemes. This was highlighted by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India’s (CAG) performance audit of the NSAP from 2017-18 to 2020-21, tabled in the Lok Sabha recently.

Relevance

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP)
  2. Performance of NSAP

National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP)

  • The National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) is a centrally sponsored scheme launched in 1995 by the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD), Government of India.
  • It aims to provide financial assistance to individuals below the poverty line (BPL) who belong to vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, widows, persons with disabilities, and bereaved families.
  • The scheme provides social pensions to help fulfill the Directive Principles of the Indian Constitution, particularly Article 41, which calls for public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness, disability, etc., within the country’s economic capacity and development.
Components of NSAP:

Originally, NSAP had three components:

  • National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS): Provides monthly pension to individuals aged 60 and above. The pension amount is Rs 200 per month for those between 60-79 years and Rs 500 per month for those aged 80 and above.
  • National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS): Offers a lump sum amount of Rs 20,000 to bereaved households in case of the death of the primary breadwinner.
  • Annapurna Scheme: Distributes 10 kgs of food grains (wheat or rice) per month to eligible elderly individuals who are not covered by the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS).
In 2009, two additional schemes were added:
  • Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS): Provides a monthly pension of Rs 300 to eligible widows aged 40 and above. The pension amount increases to Rs 500 per month after the beneficiary reaches 80 years of age.
  • Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme (IGNDPS): Offers a monthly pension of Rs 300 to disabled individuals aged 18 and above with a disability level of 80%. The pension amount increases to Rs 500 per month after the beneficiary reaches 80 years of age.
Performance of NSAP:
  • According to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report, around 4.65 crore beneficiaries availed the various pension schemes and family benefits annually between 2017 and 2021.
  • The central government released an average of Rs 8,608 crore per year during this period, and states and Union Territories allocated an average of Rs 27,393 crore per year for pension and family benefit.
  • The NSAP plays a vital role in providing social and financial support to vulnerable sections of society and contributes to their well-being and economic security.

-Source: The Hindu


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