Gattu Devi, an 85-year-old resident of Banjari village in Rajasthan’s Ajmer district, was shocked to learn that her pension had been stopped by the government after she was declared dead. Gattu Devi, a grandmother of three, had been receiving a monthly pension of Rs 1,500 for many years. Her last pension was received in February 2022, but her family did not check the account regularly assuming that the pension was being deposited regularly.
However, when they went to the panchayat samiti to inquire about the pension, they were told that Gattu Devi had been declared dead and her pension had been stopped in February 2021. Her son Chunnilal Regar was surprised and shocked by the news and said that his mother was alive and well. He added that his family had not received any notification from the government about the cancellation of her pension.
The family has now appealed to the authorities to reinstate Gattu Devi’s pension and have her name removed from the death records. The incident highlights the need for better record-keeping and communication between the government and its citizens, particularly in rural areas where access to information and communication technology is limited.
The cancellation of Gattu Devi’s pension is not an isolated incident, and there have been reports of similar cases in other parts of the country. The government’s efforts to weed out fraudulent beneficiaries of social welfare schemes have led to unintended consequences, with many genuine beneficiaries being left out.
In response to these issues, the government has launched several initiatives to improve the targeting and delivery of social welfare schemes. The Aadhaar card, a unique identification number issued to every Indian citizen, has been made mandatory for accessing many government services and subsidies, including pensions. The Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme, which transfers subsidies directly to beneficiaries’ bank accounts, has also been rolled out across the country.
While these initiatives have helped to reduce leakages and improve the targeting of social welfare schemes, they have also created new challenges, particularly for vulnerable and marginalized communities who may not have access to the required identification documents or banking facilities. The government needs to ensure that these communities are not left out of the social welfare system and that they have access to the support they need.