PM-KISAN beneficiary data gives opportunity to examine the situation of farmers
Come December, the Central Government will begin disbursing the 7th instalment of funds under the Pradhan Mantri- Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana (PM-KISAN). This is a Central scheme implemented through the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare for the benefit of eligible farmers across the country. According to a reply to an Unstarred Question tabled in the Lok Sabha (on 18th September, 2020) during the monsoon session, the Ministry acknowledged that a total of INR 94,119.49 crores (USD 12.63 Billion, where USD 1 = INR 74.49) had been deposited in three instalments of INR 2,000 each per year since its inception in December 2018.Two earlier instalments due this year were front-ended as part of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana package announced on 26th March, 2020 to mitigate their hardships arising from the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic. The reply tabled in the Lok Sabha also stated that a total of 10.21 crore (100.21 million) farmers had benefited from this scheme as on the date of that reply. The website dedicated to display the progress of implementation of this scheme shows This figure has expanded to more than 11 crore beneficiaries at the time of writing this despatch. Names of individual beneficiaries are accessible village-wise on this website.
The RTI Intervention
In order to ascertain more detailed information about the implementation of the PM-KISAN Yojana than what the Ministry is willing to proactively disclose on the dedicated website and after discussing the matter with a group of advocators of transparency across 11 States at a webinar held in April, 2020, I sought information about State-wise disbursals in May 2020. The Ministry supplied free of cost, data about instalment-wise disbursal of funds during the lockdown period starting 26th March 2020. Readers may click here to access media reportage of this data. However, little is known about the gender, religion and caste-wise spread and reach of this scheme. So, in June 2020, I submitted another RTI application through the RTI Online Facility seeking the following information from the Ministry.
"I. I would like to obtain access to the following information about the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) under the RTI Act, 2005 in the manner described at para no. II below:
a) The number of men, women and transgenders who are PM-KISAN beneficiaries in every State and Union Territory (UT) as on date,
b) The number of PM-KISAN beneficiaries in every State and UT who belong to the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes, as on date,
c) The number of PM-KISAN beneficiaries in every State and UT who are persons with disabilities (Divyang-Jan), as on date,
d) The number of PM-KISAN beneficiaries in every State and UT who belong to Muslim and Christian communities, as on date,
e) The name and complete postal address of the Accredited Bank through which PM-KISAN is being implemented as on date,
f) The names and complete postal address of the Sponsoring Banks identified by every State and UT for the purpose of implementing PM-KISAN, as on date,
g) The name and postal address of the agency identified by every State and UT for the purpose of receiving administrative expenses under PM-KISAN, as on date,
h) The total number of non-beneficiaries who received payments in every State and UT since the inception of PM-KISAN,
i) The total amount of funds that were deposited in the bank accounts of non-beneficiaries in every State and UT since the inception of PM-KISAN,
j) The total amount of funds that have been reversed from the bank accounts of non-beneficiaries in every State and UT, since the inception of PM-KISAN,
k) The number of failed transactions under PM-KISAN reported by sponsoring banks from every State and UT in relation to each instalment of funds released during the COVID-19 lockdown period, as on date,
l) The instalment-wise number of transactions under PM-KISAN that failed during the COVID-19 reported by sponsoring banks from every State and UT that have been successfully reprocessed as on date,
m) The amount of funds released to every State and UT for the purpose of meeting administrative expenses under PM-KISAN during the COVID-19 lockdown period as on date, and
n) Scanned copies of all correspondence carried out with the Government of West Bengal for the purpose of implementing PM-KISAN in that State.
II. Form of access to information sought: Kindly upload all the information described above on the dedicated website of PM-KISAN and inform me through email, the URL of every webpage containing the information described at para no. I above. Kindly note, the information described at para no. (I) above is in the nature of information that is required to be disclosed proactively under various sub-clauses of Section 4(1)(b) Every public authority shall publish within one hundred and twenty days from the enactment of this Act,- (i) the particulars of its organisation, functions and duties; (ii) the powers and duties of its officers and employees; (iii) the procedure followed in the decision making process, including channels of supervision and accountability; (iv) the norms set by it for the discharge of its functions; (v) the rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records, held by it or under its control or used by its employees for discharging its functions; (vi) a statement of the categories of documents that are held by it or under its control; (vii) the particulars of any arrangement that exists for consultation with, or representation by, the members of the public in relation to the formulation of its policy or implementation thereof; (viii) a statement of the boards, councils, committees and other bodies consisting of two or more persons constituted as its part or for the purpose of its advice, and as to whether meetings of those boards, councils, committees and other bodies are open to the public, or the minutes of such meetings are accessible for public; (ix) a directory of its officers and employees; (x) the monthly remuneration received by each of its officers and employees, including the system of compensation as provided in its regulations; (xi) the budget allocated to each of its agency, indicating the particulars of all plans, proposed expenditures and reports on disbursements made; (xii) the manner of execution of subsidy programmes, including the amounts allocated and the details of beneficiaries of such programmes; (xiii) particulars of recipients of concessions, permits or authorisations granted by it; (xiv) details in respect of the information, available to or held by it, reduced in an electronic form; (xv) the particulars of facilities available to citizens for obtaining information, including the working hours of a library or reading room, if maintained for public use; (xvi) the names, designations and other particulars of the Public Information Officers; (xvii) such other information as may be prescribed and thereafter update these publications every year; of the RTI Act. As I have not been able to find the said information on PM-KISAN website, I am constrained to submit this formal request for information."
I filed a first appeal after the Ministry failed to send a reply within the statutory deadline of 30 days. Less than 10 days later, the First Appellate Authority (FAA) furnished a copy of the reply sent by the Central Public Information Officer stating that most of the queries had been referred to the National Informatics Cell (NIC) which maintains the PM-KISAN database. The FAA also directed the NIC to upload all the beneficiary-related information on the dedicated PM-KISAN website, agreeing with my contention about the necessity of proactive disclosure of detailed information about the implementation of this scheme. The FAA assured that the remaining information would be furnished as and when received from the NIC. Eventually, the Ministry provided gender-wise and caste-wise details of the beneficiaries (numbers only) in October, 2020.
Key features of the initial RTI reply and documents provided by the Ministry
1) State Bank of India (SB), Shastri Bhawan Branch, New Delhi is the accredited Bank through which the PM-KISAN Yojana is being implemented across the country. Funds are routed through this branch of SBI to the beneficiaries who maintain accounts in the branches of the Sponsoring Banks identified by the State Governments and the administration of the Union Territories (UTs);
2) The States and UTs implementing PM-KISAN Yojana are entitled to receive administrative expenses as per its guidelines. States and UTs have the responsibility of identifying potential beneficiaries according to the eligibility criteria of the scheme, issue funds transfer orders (FTOs) for disbursing the instalments, issue Letter of Authority to the Sponsoring Banks to credit the amounts due in the accounts of beneficiaries without waiting for further instructions and undertake verifications in relation to failed transactions and update beneficiary details to enable crediting of funds successfully. States and UTs are entitled to identify their own agencies to receive administrative expenses involved in the aforementioned tasks. However according to the Ministry's FAA, the States and UTs were not paid any Administrative Expenses for implementing PM-KISAN Yojana during the COVID-19 lockdown period.
3) Between February 2019 and February 2020, the Union Agriculture Minister and Secretary wrote at least four letters to the Chief Minister of West Bengal urging the State Government to identify farmers in that State for inclusion in PM-KISAN. Click here for copies of this communication. The State is yet to respond positively to include the more than 69 lakh farmers of the State in this scheme. This figure was reported to the LokSabha in response to an Unstarred Query raised by an MP in March 2020.
4) The FAA also supplied the name, contact details and the email address of Nodal Officers in every State and UT designated for the purpose of implementing the PM-KISAN Yojana;
5) The FAA of the Ministry replied that there was no provision for collecting details about the religious identity of beneficiaries covered by the scheme. So, unlike the PM Ujjwala Yojana for which this author has obtained religion-wise implementation data during the COVID-19 lockdown period (the data is currently under analysis), it is not possible to gauge the religious community-wise outreach of PM-KISAN Yojana.
6) The FAA of the Ministry also replied that there is no provision for a separate category of "persons with disabilities" under PM-KISAN Yojana, so no information about "Divyangjan" is being collected.
What is problematic with this reply?
According to Section 24 of The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (RPwD Act), every government is under a statutory duty to provide additional support to persons with disabilities in any welfare scheme that is floated for the rest of the population. Section 24 is reproduced below:
"24. (1) The appropriate Government shall within the limit of its economic capacity and development formulate necessary schemes and programmes to safeguard and promote the right of persons with disabilities for adequate standard of living to enable them to live independently or in the community:
Provided that the quantum of assistance to the persons with disabilities under such schemes and programmes shall be at least twenty-five per cent higher than the similar schemes applicable to others." (emphasis supplied)
Although the above statutory requirement is subject to the Government's economic capacity, surely, where it can marshal resources to make payments to more than 10 crore farmers, it can spend a little extra on farmers with disabilities. According to a Statistical Profile of Persons with Disabilities published by the Union Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation in 2016, the 2011 Census counted 22 The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923), and any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act. .74 lakh cultivators who are persons with disabilities (see page 31 of the Stats Profile). They constitute 23% of the larger grouping of 97.44 lakh workers who are persons with disabilities. Calculating at the rate of Rs. 1,500 per beneficiary (being the 25% hike required by the RPwD Act) another INR 341.10 crores will have to be added to the total expenditure on PM-KISAN Yojana incurred per year. Surely, the Government will be able to afford this additional expenditure. The first step towards ensuring this statutory compliance of providing extra support to farmers with disabilities is to identify them from the PM-KISAN beneficiary database across all States and UTs. Perhaps the numbers might have increased slightly as the original enumeration was done nine years ago. The 2021 Census exercise provides a golden opportunity to pinpoint farmers with disabilities and ascertain the exact numbers of eligible persons and disburse the additional funds due to them since the commencement of PM-KISAN Yojana. Such a counting exercise will not involve additional financial burden on the exchequer. What is required is the political will to implement Section 24 of the RPwD Act in its letter and spirit in relation to PM-KISAN Yojana.
Analysis of further data received under the RTI Act
In October, 2020, almost two months after the FAA of the Ministry of Agriculture issued his decision on my 1st appeal, the CPIO of the Ministry sent gender-wise and caste-wise details of beneficiaries of PM-KISAN Yojana for every State and Union Territory. The data supplied free of cost by the CPIO is current as on 7th September 2020. Interestingly, district-wise numbers of beneficiaries and the total payouts made across all States and UTs were tabled in the Lok Sabha 11 days later (on 18th September). Although the CPIO sent the data two weeks after the Lok Sabha reply was tabled, the number of PM-KISAN beneficiaries is 48.60 lakhs shorter than the figures tabled in Parliament. This data discrepancy is analysed at the end of this email alert. The preliminary analysis of the region-wise and gender and caste-wise data received from the CPIO is given below. Click here for the gender and caste-wise data supplied by the CPIO. Click here to see the spreadsheets containing calculations made. Click here to view an MS PPT containing a graphical representation of some of the findings.
Analysis of Region-wise RTI data of PM-KISAN Beneficiaries (as of 7th September 2020)
The analysis given below is limited to the data that the CPIO supplied under the RTI Act. If the statistics of the newly enrolled beneficiaries (as on 18th September, 2020) is included in this analysis the difference in the percentages mentioned below is only a few decimal points. So, some analytical findings from this larger dataset are presented at the bottom of this email alert.
- 27 States (as West Bengal remains out of the ambit of the scheme) account for 10.05 crore beneficiaries (98.90%) while the 9 UTs account for 11.14 lakh beneficiaries (1.09%);
- At 28.57% Northern India comprising of the States of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand accounts for the largest chunk of beneficiaries (2.90 crores);
- Western India comprising of the States of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa takes 2nd place accounting for 22 The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923), and any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act. .03% of the beneficiaries (2.24 crores);
- Southern India comprising of the States of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala takes 3rd position with 21.72% of the beneficiaries (2.20 crores);
- Eastern India comprising the three States of Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha accounts for 12.47% of the beneficiaries (1.26 crores);
- Central India comprising of the States of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh accounts for 10.21% of the beneficiaries (1.03 crores); and
- Northeastern India comes last with 3.91% of the beneficiaries (39.73 lakhs).
Analysis of Gender-wise RTI data of PM-KISAN Beneficiaries (as of 7th September 2020)
Although the PM-KISAN website displays village-wise, the name and gender of the beneficiaries, pulling out macro-level statistics is a tedious exercise requiring considerable investment of time and human resources. However, the data supplied under the RTI Act provides a snapshot of the gender-break-up of the PM-KISAN beneficiaries.
- More than 75% of the beneficiaries of PM-KISAN Yojana are men (7.70 crores) while women beneficiaries constitute 24.25% (2.46 crores) of the total figure (gender breakup of beneficiaries was not presented in the Lok Sabha during the budget and the monsoon sessions in 2020);
- Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of beneficiaries (1.89 crores men and 42.72 lakh women) among all States and UTs, followed by Maharashtra (82.83 lakh men and 19.87 lakh women beneficiaries), Madhya Pradesh (61.13 lakh men and 15.83 lakh women beneficiaries), Bihar (50.73 lakh men and 21.52 lakh women beneficiaries) and Rajasthan (41.72 lakh men and 22 The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923), and any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act. .70 lakh women beneficiaries) - making them the top 5 States with the most number of beneficiaries (gender-combined);
- However, when gender-breakup is taken into account the same order mentioned above is not visible. While UP remains the topper for both genders, Maharashtra, MP, Bihar and Rajasthan top the list of States with the largest number of male beneficiaries;
- After UP- Rajasthan, Bihar, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh (18.45 lakhs) account for the largest number of women beneficiaries in that order;
- Interestingly in several States in Northeastern India, there are more women than male beneficiaries of PM-KISAN Yojana. For example, women constitute almost 2/3rds of the beneficiaries (63.51%) in Meghalaya and more than half of the beneficiaries (54.35%) in Manipur, Nagaland (52.61%) and Arunachal Pradesh (51.98%). In Lakshadweep women constitute almost one half (49.41%) of the total figure. In Kerala women constitute 44.20% of the beneficiaries. In Mizoram, Puducherry, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh women constitute more than 1/3rd of the total number of beneficiaries;
- In Tamil Nadu and Assam women comprise more than 31% of the total number of beneficiaries whereas in Gujarat, Bihar and Telangana they account for more than a quarter of the total number of beneficiaries. In MP, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Tripura women comprise of more than 20% of the total number of beneficiaries;
- Despite Maharashtra having the second largest number of beneficiaries among all States and UTs women constitute less than 20% of the total;
- The UT of Chandigarh has the smallest number of women beneficiaries at 52 (11.35% of the total). In terms of percentages, Punjab accounts for 0.003%- the lowest proportion of women beneficiaries (only 61 women) among all States and UTs whereas men constitute 99.997% (23.28 lakhs) of the total figure.
- Proportion-wise, only 10.42% of the beneficiaries in Jammu & Kashmir are women placing it 2nd from the bottom preceded by Chandigarh, Goa (13.80%) and Sikkim (14.77%) in that order. Ladakh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand have between 16-17% women beneficiaries each; and
- Interestingly, the dataset furnished by the CPIO marks Transgender farmers as "0" in every State and UT. The village-wise list of beneficiaries displayed on the PM-KISAN dedicated website also mentions only "M" and "F" in the gender column against their names. The online registration form does not mention "Transgender" as a category under the "Gender" Column. Instead, "Other" is mentioned along with "Male" and "Female" for the potential applicant to choose from. This is strange because access to the PM-KISAN online registration form is facilitated only by entering an Aadhaar number.
According to Sections 4 and 5 of The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, transgender persons have the right to be recognised as such based on self-perceived identity. If such a person does not want to be recognised as ‘male’ or ‘female’ but as “transgender” that right is guaranteed by law. UIDAI facilitates such persons to apply for Aadhaar registration under “transgender” category. Further Section 8(3) Subject to the provisions of clauses (a), (c) and (i) of sub-section (1), any information relating to any occurrence, event or matter which has taken place, occurred or happened twenty years before the date on which any request is made under section 6 shall be provided to any person making a request under that section: Provided that where any question arises as to the date from which the said period of twenty years has to be computed, the decision of the Central Government shall be final, subject to the usual appeals provided for in this Act. of this Act obligates the Central Government to formulate welfare schemes and programmes that are transgender persons sensitive, non-stigmatising and non-discriminatory. Without an iota of doubt, PM-KISAN Yojana must become compliant with these provisions. When transgender persons can register as such to get Aadhaar numbers, there is no reason why the PM-KISAN registration facility should not be tweaked to include transgender among the ‘gender’ selection options. If this is done, collation of statistics about transgender persons who are beneficiaries of PM-KISAN will become possible.
Analysis of Category-wise RTI data of PM-KISAN Beneficiaries (as of 7th September 2020)
The PM-KISAN website does not indicate the social background of its beneficiaries. To the best of my knowledge such information has not been tabled in Parliament either. Thanks to RTI, for the first time it is possible to ascertain the category-wise breakup of the PM-KISAN beneficiaries across the States and UTs. Our preliminary findings based on an analysis of the data furnished by the CPIO are given below:
- Nationally, farmers belonging to Other Backward Classes (OBCs) constitute the largest chunk i.e., 41.51% of PM-KISAN beneficiaries. 11.96% of the beneficiaries belong to the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and 9.89% are from the Scheduled Tribes (STs). At 36.64% beneficiaries in the "General" category constitute the 2nd largest chunk, nationally (it must be pointed out that the dataset supplied by the CPIO did not specifically contain data about beneficiaries belonging to 'General" category. The national, State and UT level data about this category was derived by deducting the figures mentioned for OBCs, SCs and STs from the totals supplied by the CPIO).
Other Backward Classes
- Nationally, 41.51% of the PM-KISAN beneficiaries belong to OBCs;
- 11 States namely, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Odisha and Chhattisgarh in that order have more than 10 lakh beneficiaries each from the OBC category;
- Proportionally, OBCs top the list of PM-KISAN beneficiaries in Karnataka (86.05%). They account for more than 50% of the beneficiaries in the UT of Puducherry (71.58%) and the States of Tamil Nadu (63.79%) and Uttar Pradesh (57.46%);
- OBCs account for the single largest segment of beneficiaries in the States of Rajasthan (48.74%), Andhra Pradesh (45.93%), Madhya Pradesh (45.48%), Chhattisgarh (42.03%) and Odisha (41.51%). In Maharashtra and Bihar, OBCs constitute more than 36% of the PM-KISAN beneficiaries;
- Both Tripura and Manipur have the smallest proportion of OBC farmers (0.02% each) in the PM-KISAN beneficiaries list as compared to other communities. In Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, J&K and Punjab OBCs account for less than 10% of the beneficiaries each;
- Interestingly, data supplied by the CPIO shows there are no OBC beneficiaries of the PM-KISAN Yojana in Telangana at all. According to the information displayed on the website of the National Commission for Backward Classes, 87 OBC communities are officially listed as residents of Telangana of which at least four communities belong to the Islamic faith. Surely at least some of them are likely to be farmers. This non-visibility of OBCs in the list of PM-KISAN beneficiaries in Telangana requires deeper probing. There are no OBC beneficiaries in the Northeastern States of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and the UTs of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Delhi, Ladakh and Lakshadweep as well.
- Nationally, 11.96% of the PM-KISAN beneficiaries belong to the Scheduled Castes (SCs);
- Uttar Pradesh has the largest number of beneficiaries from the SC category (43.94 lakhs). The States of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have more than 9.5 lakh beneficiaries each belonging to the SC category. Bihar (8.23 lakhs) and Maharashtra (7.19 lakhs) take the 4th and 5th positions in this category followed by Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu which have between 6-5 lakh beneficiaries from the SC category;
- Proportionally, the highest percentage of PM-KISAN beneficiaries belonging to SCs category is found in the State of Himachal Pradesh (25.75%) followed by Uttar Pradesh with 18.92%. SC category beneficiaries account for more than 15% of the total in both Rajasthan and Uttarakhand. Beneficiaries belonging to the SC category account for more than 10% of the total in Telangana (14.63%), Jharkhand (13.60%), Chhattisgarh (12.73%), Madhya Pradesh (12.35%), Andhra Pradesh (11.78%), Tripura (11.56%), Bihar (11.40%), Tamil Nadu (11.12%) and Odisha (11%);
- Punjab accounts for the smallest proportion (0.001%) of PM-KISAN beneficiaries from the SC category. Interestingly, according to the statistics displayed on the website of the Punjab Government's Department of Social Justice & Empowerment & Minorities, the 2011 Census counted 88.60 lakh persons belonging to SC communities (31.94% of the State's population). According to the data supplied by the CPIO only 22 The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923), and any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act. farmers in Punjab were listed as PM-KISAN beneficiaries as on 7th September 2020. This issue also requires deeper probing;
- Ladakh and Lakshadweep do not have any farmer belonging to the SC category in the list of PM-KISAN beneficiaries.
- Nationally, 9.89% of the PM-KISAN beneficiaries are from the Scheduled Tribes (STs);
- Madhya Pradesh accounted for the largest number of PM-KISAN beneficiaries belonging to ST communities (16.52 lakhs) followed by Odisha (10.57 lakhs), Gujarat (9.59 lakhs), Rajasthan (8.61 lakhs), Chhattisgarh (8.16 lakhs) and Maharashtra (7.03 lakhs);
- More than 4.7 lakh STs are on the list of PM-KISAN beneficiaries in both Assam and Telangana while Punjab has 3.99 lakh ST beneficiaries;
- Proportionally, in Ladakh, Lakshadweep and Nagaland, more than 99% of the beneficiaries belong to the ST category. Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya each account for more than 90% of PM-KISAN beneficiaries belonging to the ST category. In Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Manipur and Tripura between 60-50% of the beneficiaries are from ST communities;
- Interestingly, Jharkhand which has a population of 86.45 lakh STs has only 2.90 lakh ST farmers on the list of PM-KISAN beneficiaries constituting 16.28% of the total number of beneficiaries in that State. However Chhattisgarh with its 78.23 lakh ST population fairs much better with 2.38 lakh ST beneficiaries constituting 30.43% of the total;
- In Delhi, STs accounted for only 0.03% of the total no. of PM-KISAN beneficiaries- the lowest among all States and UTs. STs comprised 0.04% of the total in Puducherry, 0.13% in Haryana 0. 22 The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923), and any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act. % in the UT of Chandigarh and 0.94% in Uttar Pradesh which stand at the bottom of the pile.
- Nationally farmers belonging to the "General" category comprise 36.64% of the PM-KISAN beneficiaries- the 2nd largest segment after OBCs;
- Uttar Pradesh accounted for the most number of "General" category farmers (52.65 lakhs) in the list of PM-KISAN beneficiaries, followed by Maharashtra (51.07 lakhs), Bihar (35.53 lakhs), Kerala (31.01 lakhs),Telangana (26.94 lakhs) and Gujarat (21.99 lakhs) in that order;
- Andhra Pradesh and Assam have more than 19 lakh “General” category beneficiaries each while Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Tamil Nadu have been 17-10 lakh beneficiaries belonging to this category;
- Proportionally, farmers belonging to the “General” category (31.03 lakhs) account for 92.72% of the PM-KISAN beneficiaries in Kerala- the highest among States and UTs. Although Delhi and Chandigarh record more than 98% beneficiaries in this category, in terms of absolute numbers the count is just a fraction (13,910 and 449 respectively) of that of Kerala.
- In Haryana and Andaman & Nicobar Islands beneficiaries belonging to "General" category constitute more than 75% of the total figure. Uttarakhand, Punjab, Telangana, Assam and Jammu and Kashmir account for more than 70% beneficiaries in the “General” category. In Himachal Pradesh beneficiaries in the "General" category account for 63.72% of the total while in Goa and Jharkhand they constitute more than 50% of the total. In both Maharashtra and Goa more than 49% of the beneficiaries belong to the "General" category. More than 33% of the beneficiaries belong to the "General" category in Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tripura and Manipur;
- Interestingly, in Karnataka less than 1% (0.34%) of the beneficiaries belong to the 'General" category. Similarly, in Lakshadweep, Mizoram, Nagaland and Ladakh, "General" category beneficiaries constitute less than 0.5% of the total figure.
Analysis of trends in beneficiary registration made after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic
Prior to the commencement of the nation-wide lockdown in March, 2020, the Lok Sabha was informed in response to an Unstarred Question that funds had been disbursed to a total of 8.69 crore farmers under the PM-KISAN Yojana as on 11th March, 2020. When the CPIO sent the beneficiary-related data in October, the number of beneficiaries had risen to 10.16 crores. While compiling this despatch I came across a very detailed reply to an Unstarred tabled in the Lok Sabha containing district-wise information about the beneficiaries. The total figure had expanded to 10.21crores. Strangely, the CPIO had not supplied data that matches the figures tabled in the Lok Sabha. Yet, the State and UT-wise data received under the RTI Act show a slightly lesser figure- a difference of 4.86 lakhs. Nevertheless, I have analysed the trends in additions made to the list of registered beneficiaries during the lockdown period i.e., between March 2020 and 7th September, 2020 (the date of the status update on beneficiaries mentioned in the RTI reply). The main findings are given below:
- More than 1.47 crore beneficiaries were added to the list across all States and UTs during this roughly six-month period. While 1.45 crore beneficiaries were added across the States, 1.06 lakhs were added across the UTs;
- Uttar Pradesh accounted for 29% of the additional beneficiaries (43.23 lakhs) while Madhya Pradesh (15.65 lakhs) and Bihar (15.30 lakhs) accounted for more than 10% each. Maharashtra accounted for 9.60% while Rajasthan accounted for 7.59% and Tamil Nadu accounted for 6.24%. Chhattisgarh and Gujarat each accounted for more than 4% addition each. Kerala accounted for additions of 3.06% and Jharkhand accounted for 2.3% additions. Karnataka and Haryana accounted for additions of more than 1.5% each;
- Proportionally, Sikkim saw the biggest swell in numbers, in September 2020, of more than 260% as compared with the beneficiary figures reported to the Lok Sabha in March 2020. In Manipur the number of beneficiaries doubled during this period (109.95%). Meghalaya and Mizoram saw additions of more than 90% to the March tally while Arunachal Pradesh saw an increase of 58.19% during this period. With the exception of Sikkim in all other States mentioned above, women beneficiaries outnumber males. So the additions appear to have benefitted women farmers more in these States during this period;
- Interestingly, according to the data supplied by the CPIO, there was a reduction of 204 beneficiaries in Assam during this period. The reasons are not known and it might be difficult to obtain this information under the RTI Act unless such reasons are recorded in material form in the official documents. However, data tabled in the Lok Sabha on 18th September 2020 accounts for an overall increase in numbers by 11,713 beneficiaries in Assam.
Analysis of district-wise trends in the number of PM-KISAN beneficiaries (as of 18th September 2020)
As the difference between the figures supplied by the CPIO under the RTI Act and those tabled in the Lok Sabha on 18th September 2020 is only 4.86 lakh beneficiaries this latest dataset is not subjected to the kind of analysis described above. The difference would be of only a few decimal points. However, the district-wise data tabled for the first time in Parliament in September 2020 has been analysed and the preliminary findings are given below:
- Azamgarh district in Uttar Pradesh with 6.87 lakh registered farmers has the largest no. of PM-KISAN beneficiaries in any district across the country. Jaunpur and Hardoi districts in UP follow closely with more than 6.7 lakh beneficiaries each. Ahmednagar and Solapur districts in Maharashtra with more than 5.80 lakh beneficiaries each take 4th and 5th places respectively. Prayagraj (Allahabad), Sitapur, Kushinagar and Kheri (Lakhimpur) districts in UP complete the top-10 list with more than 5.4 lakh beneficiaries each;
- If the top 100 districts with the largest number of beneficiaries are counted, UP takes the lion's share with 37 districts followed by Maharashtra with 14 districts, Andhra Pradesh with 13, Bihar with 7, Kerala and Rajasthan with 6 each, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu with 3 each, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh with 2 each, Assam, Chhattisgarh and Odisha with 1 each;
- The smallest number of beneficiaries is from Shahdara district (3) in Delhi. Southeast Delhi (11), New Delhi (34), South Delhi (45) and North East Delhi (90), precede it at the bottom of the pile of 696 districts covered by the PM-KISAN Yojana across the country;
- If the number of beneficiaries is taken as a proportion of the population covered in the district, among the top 100 districts that report the highest number of PM-KISAN beneficiaries, the coverage in Villupuram, Tamil Nadu is 24.07%. The coverage is more than 18% in the districts of Dohad in Gujarat, Beed in Maharashtra and Kanpur Dehat in UP;
- The lowest coverage is in Pune, Maharashtra at 4.93%. In Salem in Tamil Nadu and Jaipur in Rajasthan the coverage is a little more than 5%. In Gaya and Madhubani districts of Bihar the coverage is under 7% each.
It may be noted that the comparison with population is based on the 2011 Census figures. Surely, these figures would have increased considerably over the last nine years. These percentages will have to be revised when the 2020 Census is conducted and the district-wise census data is published.
As additions to the list of PM-KISAN beneficiaries continue to be made on a daily basis the aforementioned statistics and trends will have to be revised regularly. I leave that to readers to make the effort to collect the updated gender, caste and district-wise statistics from time to time and publish it until such information is proactively disclosed on the PM-KISAN website itself. However, the PM-KISAN beneficiary data opens up a number of opportunities for scholars and academics to research the socio-economic situation of farmers across the country and the landholding patterns of the beneficiaries of the Yojana and its impact on the rural economy. The injection of more than INR 94,000 crores into the rural economy since December 2018 is bound to have visible impact which requires deeper probing.