In the post-poll survey conducted by Lokniti-CSDS, voters were asked about various welfare schemes to assess the impact of government welfare schemes and whether or not voters had benefited from them in the previous five years.
The Grihini Suvidha Yojana seems to have reached more voters than any other scheme, with more than one-third reporting that they had benefited from it. Three in 10 voters benefitted from the Child Nutrition Scheme and the Himcare Scheme. Furthermore, the percentage of voters who had benefited from the other schemes such as the Sahara Yojana (4%), Swavalamban Yojana (2%), Startup Scheme (2%) and the Beti hai Anmol Yojana (3%) was a very small proportion of the population (Table 1).
More than half of voters were happy with government initiatives like free and affordable rationing, notably during the COVID-19 pandemic through programmes like the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY). In April 2020, the PMGKAY programme was introduced with the goal of giving 5 kg of food grains to qualified households.
When it comes to completely free ration, nearly one-third (33%) of the voters in Himachal reported that they had benefited from the scheme. However, when it comes to cheap ration in the State, more than half of the voters (56%) benefited from it. What is also to be mentioned is that, out of the voters who agreed that they have benefitted from the cheap ration, nearly 24% reported that it was from the State government (Table 2).
The respondents were also asked about the specific policies and welfare schemes in the State and if they have received its benefits in the past five years.
More than two-fifths of the voters (44%) reported that they had benefited from the policy to provide pensions/allowances (old age, widow, disabled, etc.). Eleven per cent reported that they have benefitted from the Awas Yojana scheme. When it comes to the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), nearly 16% of the voters responded that they had benefited from the scheme which aimed at providing free medicines. Additionally, nearly 15% of voters benefitted from the Jan Dhan scheme (Table 3).
While the Centre and the State government have provided a wide range of schemes for the beneficiaries belonging to distinct eligible categories, the penetration of these policies among the people has been relatively low in Himachal. With the exception of a few welfare schemes, the voters in the State have not reported receiving the benefits of the especially catered programs.
(Jagmeet Bawa teaches at Central University of Himachal Pradesh, Dharamshala and Aaliyia Malik is a researcher at Lokniti-CSDS)