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09 May 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

Atal Pension Yojana:A Step Ahead to Bolster India

Under the proposed Atal Pension Yojana, the government will give guaranteed pension of up to Rs 5,000 a month to subscribers and will also enable members of the NPS Swavalamban to switch to the new scheme. There will be five guaranteed pensions and subscribers will have the liberty to opt any one of these five schemes. Mr. Hemant Contractor, chairman of the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) said that at the age of 60 when the plan matures, a person opting for the scheme will get a guaranteed return.

The scheme would provide a minimum monthly pension of Rs 1,000, Rs 2,000, Rs 3,000, Rs 4,000 and Rs 5,000.Contributions of as little as Rs 48 and Rs 248 would be required to get the pension of Rs 1,000 and Rs 5000 respectively. Any individual between the age of 20 and 40 years with operational bank accounts will be eligible. In the Union Budget 2015-16, finance minister Arun Jaitely had announced the plan to launch Atal Pension Yojana. He said that the government intends to provide a definite pension that would depend on the age, contribution and its period. Under the scheme, the government will contribute 50 per cent of the beneficiaries’ premium limited to Rs 1,000 each year, for five years, in the new accounts opened before December 31, 2015.

On April1 this year, detailed guidelines of the new investment pattern for pension funds will be made public. Workers having an operational bank account can subscribe to the scheme and the bank would be the point of presence and aggregators to the scheme.

Finance minister said that the proposed Atal Pension Yojana would be one of the cardinal issues to discuss in his meeting with public sectors banks on Wednesday. In addition to that, the 36 lakh subscribers under the existing NPS Swavalamban would have the liberty to migrate to the scheme.

Atal Pension Yojana differs from Swavalamban in that it provides a minimum guaranteed pension.Swavalamban scheme targets the unorganized sector workers; the government contributes Rs 1,000 every year for a period of five years who opened accounts between 2010-11 and 2012-13.

With burgeoning population,a scheme like Atal Pension Yojana is the need of the hour in India. Indian government attempt to provide financial security to the people is really praiseworthy and will certainly bolster the morale of the citizens. But utmost important is to create awareness among people that such schemes exist since people specifically residing in rural India has little or no knowledge of such schemes consequently they remain devoid of getting benefits. NGOs can act as potent tool to bring forth awareness among people. All the same, now since media has active presence everywhere people awareness about any kind of newly introduced initiatives by the government has augmented. And if research is to be believed, Atal Pension Yojana has been bandied about enthusiastically and with great fervor among people.

Illiteracy is another factor that keeps people deprived of benefits of such schemes. Even discussion about the initiatives of the government and how they are going to benefit them appears quirky to the people who do not have formal education. Most of them are of the opinion that such schemes are to dupe people or to swindle their hard-earned money. This is yet another big challenge that government has to take and figure out the ways to make citizens understand that through such schemes, they can surmount their financial needs if not make windfall gains.

If we look into the implementation part of the previously launched schemes, we will be thoroughly disappointed. So it is equally vital to map out how benefit will reach to people before launching schemes. That being said, there are plethora of schemes which have benefited people across the length and breadth of the country but many plans have fallen through as well. So efficacy of plans should be measured in terms of implementation only. Government can have sigh of relief once people themselves make out the pros and cons of schemes like Atal Pension Yojana – this is a sign of matured democracy when people set about mulling over the advantages and disadvantages of anything. By the time, people start weighing the pros and cons of any scheme; it is the responsibility of the government to communicate about the advantages of such schemes.