Annapurna Scheme Is An Assistance Program For Senior Citizens

Annapurna Scheme is a part of the “National Social Assistance Program” with the primary goal of providing food security to senior citizens. 

Annapurna Scheme was launched in the year 2000 with effect from 1st April by the Ministry of Rural Development. It’s a part of the “National Social Assistance Program” by the Government of India with the primary goal of providing food security.

The name Annapurna comes from the Sanskrit language which means, “Anna” means “grain or food” and “Purna” means “complete or full”. According to Indian mythology, Devi Annapurna is the Goddess of food and nourishment and is believed to be another name for Goddess Parvati.

Just like Devi Annapurna gives food and ensures well-being of all, in the same way the Scheme aims to provide food security to senior citizens.

Why the Annapurna Scheme is a necessity?

Previously, parents used to take care of their children and then adult children used to take care of their parents. But with changing times; development, globalisation, and other such factors playing a crucial role in our day-to-day lives; people have started to set out for the cities for better job opportunities and better payoffs.

However, they leave their ageing parents far behind them in the villages, and joint families systems turned into nuclear, breaking apart the social support.

With modernization at its peak, adult children too started to see their ageing parents as a burden; leading to the crisis of a substantial number of senior citizens living without necessities like food, shelter, and clothes.

Seeing the circumstances and situation in mind, Government of India launched several initiatives like National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS) and Annapurna Scheme.

Who is eligible for Annapurna Scheme?

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Annapurna Scheme covers those eligible old aged people who remained uncovered under Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS). Funds for this are released to the State Department of Food and Civil Supplies in one single instalment.

The State Government along with the Food Corporation of India releases the food grains district-wise directly to the regional offices of the FCI. Further distribution is done by State Government.

The Ministry of Finance as Additional Central Assistance (ACA) releases the funds of the transferred scheme to the State Plan. States do have flexibility in the choice of beneficiaries and implementation. The food grains are released to the State Governments on the existing norms at the BPL (Below Poverty Line) rates.

The provisions of the scheme

Annapurna Scheme

Under this scheme, 10 Kg of food grains is distributed per month free of cost to destitute above the age of 65 years with no or limited subsistence. The Government of India fixed the target at 52215, being 20% of the number of persons who are eligible for National Old Age Pension, but not getting the pension for some reason.

Though the scheme was originally implemented as a Central Sector Scheme, the pattern of central assistance was changed in 2002-03.

Now, the scheme is implemented with additional central assistance, and the level of expenditure reached during the year 2000-01 is treated as the mandatory commitment of the State Government.

The three major eligibility criteria include:

Annapurna Scheme Eligibility

  • The applicant should not be less than 65 years of age.
  • The applicant should be extremely poor with no regular means of subsistence from his source of income.
  • Applicants must not be a pensioner under National or State Pension Schemes.

If we watch over its implementation, Gram Panchayats are responsible for spreading information regarding the procedure for securing benefits under the scheme. Beneficiaries are selected by Gram Sabha. Municipalities on the other hand work on its implementation.

The District Collector and the Zila Panchayats will allocate the quantitative entitlements in collaboration with the State Government and Food Corporation of India.

Shortcomings of the Annapurna Scheme

Though it, definitely, puts a question mark on whether the scheme is a hit or flop.

  • Since there are no special benefits provided to SC/ST and OBC or people with special needs despite being a marginalised community.
  • The second question that the scheme failed to address is whether the beneficiaries that the Gram Sabha selects are the ones who need to get the grains. Do they match all the eligibility criteria?
  • As cast, gender, and religion remain a rigid part of Indian Politics. We still can see discrimination based on caste, religion, and gender in rural India, so the actual beneficiary might be discriminated against based on caste, religion, gender, etc.

Although if we take a positive approach, then for a scheme to first be planned and implemented is a long process, that is done in advisory of educated officials. A scheme works similarly as a law works, especially in the context of India.

Until and unless we implement it on ground level, we can not assume its consequence or success rate.

It’s just like a school report card, the low-scored subject becomes the focus in unfolding stages while high-scored subjects are seen as positive aspects to be further maintained.

Annapurna scheme is all over a good concept bought by the Government of India. Different states in India have adapted this scheme and adjusted the schemes according to their social topography, to apply, please visit the respective State Government Portals.

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Image source: CanvaPro

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