NEW DELHI: In the period between De- cember 2018 and March 2019, which included the first three months of the ambitious Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM- KISAN)—launched on 24 February 2019—the num- ber of beneficiaries who got Rs 2,000 was 3.16 crore families. When the lat- est instalment of Rs 2,000 was paid for the period De- cember 2021-March 2022, the number of beneficiary families stood at 11.05 crore, a phenomenal increase of al- most 250% in a span of three years.

Under this scheme, all landholding farmers’ fami- lies are provided financial benefit of Rs 6,000 per an- num per family, which is paid in three equal instal- ments of Rs 2,000 each, every four months by the scheme, a brain-child of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was launched as an income support mechanism for all landholding farmers to supplement their financial needs for procuring various inputs related to agriculture and allied activities as well as domestic needs. A family, as per the rules, is described as “husband, wife and minor children”. This translates to at least 44 crore individuals who are getting direct ben- efit of PM KISAN (11 crore families, each family having at least four members). The responsibility of identifying the eligible farmers’ families for benefit under the scheme is entirely of the state/UT governments.

While the Rs 6,000 per annum amount may appear “low”, it becomes “big” once the monthly income of a farmer is taken into account. As per the National Statisti- cal Office’s (NSO) Situation Assessment of Agricultural Households and Land and Livestock Holdings of Households in Rural India (SAS) 2019 survey, released in September 2021, at the all-India level, the average monthly income per agri- cultural household, during agricultural year 2018-19, was Rs 10,218.

This additional income of Rs 2,000 per quarter, offi- cials say, has increased the “disposable income” of the beneficiaries for which the family does not have to put in any effort. The execution of the scheme has been made fool-proof with the benefit going directly to the bank account of the beneficiary, who should have the agricultural land in his/her name; the seeding of Aadhar details with the bank accounts of the beneficiary has been made compulsory to root out further corruption.

The successful execution of the scheme, which also has a long “exclusion” list to ensure that only real and genuinely needy farmers are able to enjoy the benefits, has generated significant political capital for the BJP. According to BJP strategists who were in charge of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, PM-KISAN was among the top schemes that brought electoral benefits for the party in the state. As per the latest data, UP has 2.82 crore beneficiary families, 90% of whom have received the latest instalment.

Except in the states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Manipur, Assam, Mizoram and Sikkim, more than 90% of all eligible families of all other states have received their latest instalment of financial assistance. Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal, Kerala and Nagaland are among the states that have achieved an impressive target of more than 95% disbursal as per the latest data. Assam is the worst performer with only 36% disbursal, followed by Mizoram with 49% disbursal. These are the only two states who are in the “below 60% disbursal category”.