Stories from Tripura

DBT: A good governance tool

Pro-MASS News Bureau: Nov 13, 2015:

  • Jaydip Chakrabarti :

Rungthak’s story, like that of many tribal women in India, is one of domestic abuse by an alcoholic husband who used to take away her meagre income leaving Rungthak and her two children constantly in debt. Narrating her earlier life, Rungthak said, “Whenever I got MNREGA wages, my husband used to take away all the money that led to increased sufferings of the family. Thank god, it has been stopped.” The direct benefit transfer system through Aadhar seeded banking transaction was exactly what Rungthak, and several women like her, needed to prevent unwanted whisking away money.

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Shifting from subsidy regimes to transfer, the direct benefits transfer (DBT) has ushered in a dawn in the country. Aadhar based DBT has become a unique tool in empowering people, particularly rural and marginalized communities, opined Sukhamoy Debbarma, a social activist working in tribal dominated Mandwi village in Tripura.  According to him, financial inclusion received a natural but major boost with DBT. People, particularly tribal communities of the State were strongly reluctant to open bank accounts and practice savings with banks. Earlier villagers, especially tribal people used to keep extra money in bamboo poles in their thatched houses. However, Aadhar based DBT has rocked this typical mindset of tribal people and introduced an opportunity of safe banking to people. Gradually people have started saving a portion of wages and or pensions to meet emergency expenses.

 

People availing banking facility from an ultra small banking cell at Mandwi panchayat

An ultra small banking cell at Mandwi panchayat, Tripura

Acknowledging this, Mandwi Block Development Officer (BDO) Shri Manohar Biswas said, it is DBT that had initiated the process of building up a relationship between banks and the rural people. This relationship has proved to be a boon for both the banks and people. In course of time, interacting with Bank officials and business correspondents (BCs) have allowed villagers to know about and take advantage of several banking and insurance products.  Reliance and faith on standard banking services have considerably reduced clouts of private money lenders and chit funds. Referring to people’s enthusiasm about mainstream banking, Shri Biswas informed that 21,984 Bank accounts had been opened so far as against 12,910 households under Mandwi Block and added that out of the 12,910 households living in the Block, 10,180 households were now brought under the universal accessing system to Government services such as payment of Social Security Pensions, MGNREGA, IAY etc.

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With the introduction of Aadhar based DBT, delivery of welfare services have become prompt and hassle free. Take an instance of one Malati Debbarma of Burakha village in Mandwi. Before DBT came into force, every month Malati and other residents of the village had to face harrowing times while collecting Widow Pension and other social security pensions. They, including elderly people had to walk around 10 km and reach the block office at Mandwi to collect their pensions. Moreover, disbursing the pensions was a hugely time consuming process.  In fact, they had to spend almost whole day waiting endlessly in queues for receiving the pensions. “Truly, it was a nightmare to many of us”, she stated.

BC helping financial transaction at Mandwi

BC helping financial transaction at Mandwi, Tripura

Relating to the plight of the rural people in accessing welfare services, BDO of Mandwi said, with the introduction of DBT, welfare services delivery mechanism has improved remarkably. Now, beneficiaries get their benefits deposited in bank accounts. Aadhar Card based technology has quickened the disbursement process. Importantly, beneficiaries now can receive the benefits sitting at their villages as business correspondences (BCs) visit the hamlets on a pre-fixed date along with Automated Teller Machines (ATMs). With bio-metric verification in place, only genuine beneficiaries can withdraw money from their accounts.

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Malati is enjoying DBT for a host of Govt schemes including MNREGA wages, widow pension etc. Her children, Sanjit Debbarma studying in Class XII and Laxmi Debbarma in Class VIII, too have bank accounts and are receiving stipends through DBT. Malati and her neighbours have received financial assistance through DBT for constructing Pucca latrines to take Swachta Abhiyan a step forward in the hilly village Burakha. Moreover, young generation like Sanjit and Laxmis have become aware about JAM trinity and several aspects of Digital India movement after regular interaction with BCs and Bank officials while withdrawing their stipends. “It is important to note that from an ignorant class of people, tribal folks are becoming informed citizens and planning accordingly to ensure financially secured future. Villagers, mainly young generation are showing interest in Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana as well as Atal Pension Yojana”, said social worker Sukhamoy Debbarma.

 

Tripura: Aadhar seeded Bank Accounts as on Sep 9, 2015

Population

Census 11

Adhaar

Issued

Adhaar

Issued

(%)

Total

Accounts

Adhaar Seeded Adhaar Seeded (%)
3,671,032 3,273,964 89.18% 592,948 480,186 80.98%

Source: http://www.pmjdy.gov.in

DBT is a boon not only to beneficiaries, but also it is addressing several administrative issues effectively. Referring to fiscal benefits of the Govt accrued from DBT, Shri Biswas said, Aadhar card based DBT has helped in eliminating duplicate cards and ghost beneficiaries and has made the welfare service more efficient as well as leakage-free. Referring to a report of Union Oil Ministry, he said, over 14,600 crore rupees have been saved in LPG subsidy in the last year as a result of DBT scheme. Obviously, bringing all subsidies under DBT’s ambit can be the major fiscal game-changer the economy needs very much, he observed. Bolstering good governance as mentioned by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, DBT has brought much needed transparency in service delivery systems. Earlier a significant portion of welfare measures were lost to unscrupulous elements and genuine beneficiaries had to suffer.  With DBT, situation has dramatically changed in favour of beneficiaries and the whole system of delivery has become an effective fiscal saver.

* Writer is Editor of  http://www.pro-mass.com

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