The State government is currently undertaking an impact assessment survey to determine the efficacy of its social welfare schemes and also to weed out those who are availing benefits despite not being eligible for them. There have been instances of persons not fulfilling the criteria of the schemes but enrolling for them and receiving the monthly financial pay out disbursed by the government. The schemes being surveyed are Dayanand Social Security Scheme, Griha Aadhar and Laadli Laxmi. The survey will also help the government to restructure the schemes so that the benefits reach the people who actually require the help, rather than to all the 3.50 lakh beneficiaries who are enrolled for the various schemes.
Government schemes are met with public money, so government officials who are responsible in enumerating and finalising the list of beneficiaries should be extra cautious in the selection process and ensure that it is as transparent as possible, leaving no gaps in the process that can give rise to questions. It is only in doing so that the benefits of the scheme will reach only the intended beneficiaries and not be grabbed by others who have managed to get enrolled for the scheme through dishonest means. There have been reports of fake beneficiaries in the past and this practice of fake beneficiaries has to be stopped.
But, it is not just the social security schemes that need to be reassessed. The government should immediately consider a similar survey for the cyberage scheme under which it provides laptops to students of Class XI on payment of Rs 1000. While there may be no fake beneficiaries here, as laptops are given to all students, the survey is essential as it was recently found that students have been putting up some of the laptops they have received through the scheme for sale online, and seeking as little as Rs 7,000 to Rs 20,000 for the computers. The advertisements for the cyberage laptops on sale on the Net claim that they are brand new and in a sealed pack, so at such low prices there will be takers. The loser here is the tax-payer whose money has been used to purchase the computer so as to be given to a student.
According to sources in the Department of Education the cyberage laptops are sold mostly by students whose parents are financially sound. This reasoning bears out to a certain extent as a student who had put up his laptop for sale online told Herald that he had two laptops and one Mac-book and did not require the one that was given under the cyberage scheme. It is therefore imperative that some changes are introduced to the scheme so that laptops are not distributed to all students, without ascertaining whether they require the computer or already own one – in some cases even two – of their own.
Another change that is required in the scheme is having a system by which once the student has been given a laptop, some amount of monitoring is undertaken to ascertain that the computer is not sold or used for purposes other than what it is meant for.
What all this calls for is a reassessment and also the impact of the schemes, to determine whether they have really made any change in the lives of the people. From there the government has to consider constant monitoring of the various schemes it offers, especially those where direct cash transfer benefits are involved. The money that is disbursed under the schemes works out to a large sum. Under Griha Aadhar the monthly payout amounts to Rs 22.80 crore, and under the Laadli Laxmi the government has already paid Rs 508 crore. Such money and laptops cannot be allowed to reach the wrong persons. What use is a laptop to a student who already has two? That is a question the government has to answer before the next round of laptop distribution begins.