ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Pension Tension

Aadhaar and Social Assistance in Jharkhand

The Jharkhand government has made Aadhaar mandatory for social security pensions. It is claimed that this has resulted in the deletion of three lakh “fake” pensioners in 2016–17. A recent household survey in Khunti town, however, reveals that fakes and duplicates make up only a fraction of the deleted pensioners, and a very small proportion of all pensions. Instead, many genuine pensioners have been excluded
in the process.

The authors would like to thank Jean Drèze and Reetika Khera for their guidance and helpful discussions; members of the NREGA Sahayata Kendra in Khunti district of Jharkhand, Nazar Khalid, and all the student volunteers that participated in the survey; Inayat Sabhikhi for sharing information from an RTI query; Varun Gupta for useful discussions; and the local administration in Khunti for sharing data and providing clarifications. The opinions expressed here are personal.

Mangri Pahanain is an 85-year-old widow from Pahan Toli in Khunti town, Jharkhand. Frail, infirm, and severely hunched, she lives in a small hutment with her 60-year-old disabled son who walks with crutches. Mangri is so weak that she is barely able to speak. Her son explains that until recently she used to receive her monthly old-age pension of ₹600, which she critically depended on. However, since October 2016, the pension payments have stopped. Mangri’s only hope now is the benevolence of her family.

The elderly, widows, and disabled persons in Jharkhand often live a life plagued with uncertainty. They tend to have few employment opportunities (due to old age, illness or social restrictions) and limited family support. For many like Mangri, non-contributory pensions under the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) are a critical source of security and dignity.

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Updated On : 7th Sep, 2018
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