Analysis of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana

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    In Context 

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    About Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKY)

    • It was part of the Centre’s initial COVID-19 relief package , back in March 2020 when the first lockdown was announced.
    • Under this welfare scheme, 5 kg of food grain per person per month is provided free of cost for all the beneficiaries covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) [Antodaya Anna Yojana & Priority Households] including those covered under Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT).

    Achievements 

    • At a time when the world was battling with the effects of Covid on its decline and insecurity due to various reasons, India has been successfully maintaining food security for its vulnerable sections while taking necessary steps to keep availability and affordability for the common man.
    • It has provided food security to the poor, needy and the vulnerable households/beneficiaries so that they do not suffer on account of non-availability of adequate foodgrains.
      •  Effectively it has doubled the quantity of monthly foodgrains entitlements being normally delivered to beneficiaries.

    Arguments for  extension of PMGKAY:

    • Unemployment remains at record levels and there is widespread hunger among vulnerable communities
      • The government should extend PMGKAY and also universalise the public distribution system itself, so that anyone in need would receive food support regardless of whether they possessed a ration card or not. 
      • Policymakers and experts concede that the scheme made a difference to food security and public health during the pandemic.
      •  It has been observed that “the social safety net provided by the expansion of India’s food subsidy program absorbed a major part of the pandemic shock.
      • Therefore it can be extended for betterment of vulnerable sections of the society  

    Arguments against extension of PMGKAY

    • In the months prior to the latest extension made in late September 2022, there was much debate on the relevance of freebies.
    • Critics point out that the scheme’s extension is with an eye on the Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, respectively. 
    • The Expenditure Department at the Centre did not favour it, citing a funds crunch.
      •  It also held the view that such a scheme was no longer needed “in non-pandemic times”. 

    Conclusion  and Way Ahead 

    • The central authorities should commission a study and make its findings public in the context of PMGKAY.
      • The study should be the basis for updating the database of foodgrain-drawing card holders, scrutinising the data critically and zeroing in on the needy. 
      • Using this database, the Centre and States can decide whether the size of the PHHs — nearly 71 crore — can be pruned or not.
    • The central and State authorities need to ponder over the scheme’s continuance, given the chronic problem of diversion from the Public Distribution System (PDS).
    • To keep the budgetary allocation under control, rules on quota for rice or wheat can be changed suitably. 
    • The elimination of the problem of diversion of foodgrains has to be taken up with renewed vigour as, after all, farmers toil hard in the fields to produce the grains and many deserving persons remain outside the food security net.

     

    Mains Practise Question 

    [Q] Explain the salient features of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY). Do you think it has been successful  enough in  maintaining food security for its vulnerable sections during the pandemic?