NFBS: In dire need of revival

City State

As officials turn a blind eye on National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS), only 6545 applicants have been benefited in Karnataka  in the last fiscal year.

The National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS), which gives financial support to families in the event of a breadwinner’s death, is hardly being implemented in the city due to various administrative issues. Due to the long wait in the application and payment process, many beneficiaries have been struggling to get the benefits.

The NFBS provides a lumpsum amount of Rs. 20, 000 to families living Below Poverty Line (BPL) on the death of the breadwinner of the family between the ages of 18 and 59.

Many beneficiaries go to the Bangalore taluk office to know the status of their payment process. Sometimes they also have to wait for several days to get their compensation. Mr. Vishwanath. K, Bangalore district coordinator, Revenue department said, “People come to my office and tell me that they have applied for this scheme four months ago and in some cases one to two years ago. But they still have not received the payment in their bank accounts.” However, he tells the beneficiaries to go to taluk office as he only maintains the data for fund allocation of the scheme. 

Note: All figures are in crore rupees.
Annual Union Budget documents (allocation for the Department of Rural Development).

The confusion between the NFBS rules of the centre and the states is making it hard to comprehend the scheme’s implementation and functioning. A second division assistant (SDA) of Bangalore south taluk, Sheshagiri mentioned that, only a wife of a deceased breadwinner or his son below the age of 16 can apply for this scheme. “In such cases, if the wife is a breadwinner, then her husband cannot apply for it. These are the guidelines in Karnataka.”

The lengthy steps in the application process and irregularities are other problems that are contributing in frequent payment delays under NFBS. Mr. S. M. Faizan Ahmed, a Delhi-based sociologist, explained the functional aspects of NFBS. He said not all people falling under BPL are registered nor they have BPL cards. Because of this and not being educated, most eligible people are not getting the benefits. Since most of the dead breadwinners happen to be men , women are left clueless due to lack of education and advocacy of any such schemes, he added.

Paper work and bureaucratic red tape delays the timely implementation of any such schemes. Plus, a meager amount of Rs 20, 000 does not appear lucrative enough for many to do the running around. Moreover, availing death certificate itself is not easy for BPL families, which is required for submission for availing benefits of NFBS.

Source: 2020-21 Report of the Standing Committee on Rural Development, Ministry of Rural Development.

A Comprehensive National Social Assistance Program (NASP) was developed by the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD). As a result, MRD established a task force in 2012 to provide assistance and monitor the implementation of social security initiatives on the ground. As a result, the NASP task force gave the union government several recommendations in 2014 that might revive the NFBS. One of them was the replacement of the BPL cards with an exclusion plan based on exclusion criteria from the Socio-Economic and Caste Census, 2011. Furthermore, to extend the NSAP coverage to all families eligible for food rations under the National Food Security Act, as well as other ideas to increase the benefits. However, ensuring that these recommendations are working well on ground level is still a challenge.

The NFBS scheme comes under the umbrella of the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP), 1995. It was a crucial step towards the state’s accountability to offer public assistance to residents in the event of disease, disability, old age, unemployment, and other circumstances, as outlined in Article 41 of the Constitution.