Each year we look forward to the launch of government schemes that will bring benefits to the common man. Since the ascent of the NDA government, the launch of large-scale schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna has brought much cheer each year. 2017 was relatively low key when compared to previous years and yet there were a number of schemes launched for the benefit of the people. Unlike the PMJDY, however, these schemes were targeted at certain sections of society and not meant for the masses. Though not a scheme, we have included the rollout of GST since it is a significant event and a major reform undertaken in 2017.
Saubhagya – Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana
In September 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Saubhagya, an INR 16320 crore Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana. The scheme aims at providing electricity to about 40 million households in urban and rural India by end December 2018. On an average, if about 10 percent of the households in a village are provided electricity connections the entire village is considered to be electrified. This leaves a number of households outside the scope of electrification. This scheme is all set to resolve the issue but does not provide any subsidy on the bills.
While this is not a scheme in the traditional sense, the rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) replacing numerous other taxes such as the VAT (Value Added Tax), service tax, entertainment tax, and central excise duty has been hailed as one of the greatest tax reforms undertaken by India since independence. This move to rollout the GST despite criticism from the opposition has been hailed by various international financial organizations including the World Bank and has been cited as the cause for India’s jump in the “ease of doing business rankings”. GST was implemented in July 2017 although the GST on many goods and services has revised subsequently.
Khelo India Scheme 2017-18
The Khelo India 2017-18 scheme was launched by the Government of India in August 2017. The scheme’s objective is to identify and groom young and budding sporting talent from across the country. About 1000 young players and sportspersons will be identified and given a scholarship of INR 5 lakhs each. They will be groomed and trained for 8 continuous years. The scheme will also include a fitness component that will encourage some 200 million children in the country to focus on physical activity and fitness. The total budget allocated for this scheme is INR 1756 crore. The government also launched the National Sports Talent Search Portal to enable young sportspersons to reach out.
“Shadi Shagun” Scheme
In August 2017, PM Narendra Modi announced the launch of the Shaadi Shagun Yojna through which Muslim girls who have completed their graduation will receive a gift of INR 51000. This will enable the girls to go in for higher education. The scheme is meant only for Muslim girls and the cash gift will not be given to girls who are married prior to the completion of their undergraduate studies. The Maulana Azad Educational Foundation is currently dedicated to designing a website for the scheme where the details will be available and where eligible girls may apply. The rollout of the scheme is delayed due to the launch of this website.
The Udan Scheme was launched by the Government of India in April 2017. UDAN stands for Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik); it is a regional airport development scheme. The main objective of the scheme is to make air travel affordable for the common man and to boost air transport infrastructure by promoting regional flight connectivity. In the initial phase, 43 cities are to be included in the country’s mainstream air connectivity network. This includes about 31 cities where airports are present but no commercial flights operate. Commercial flight services will be launched from these airports connecting them to the rest of the country.
Sankalp Se Siddhi
The Sankalp se Siddhi (Attainment through Resolve) programme was launched by the Ministry of Culture in September 2017. It is a five-year plan with an implementation timeline from 2017 to 2022. The focus of the scheme is on good governance. The emphasis is on the use of technology to combat terrorism, bring cleanliness, and eradication of social evils such as caste barriers, communalism, and class divide. It is an umbrella programme that will include a number of schemes previously launched by the government and others which are still underway.