What is the scheme Kalaignar Magalir Urimai Thittam in Tamil Nadu? | Explained

The women’s rights grant scheme in Tamil Nadu, to be rolled out on September 15, was the most populist of the seven assurances by Chief Minister M.K. Stalin before he came to power

Updated - September 19, 2023 04:09 pm IST

Published - September 14, 2023 04:14 pm IST

File picture of women applying for registration under the Kalaignar Magalir Urimai Thittam in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, in July 2023

File picture of women applying for registration under the Kalaignar Magalir Urimai Thittam in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, in July 2023 | Photo Credit: R. Ashok

On September 15, 2023, the birth anniversary of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) founder C.N. Annadurai, the M.K. Stalin Government will roll out the Kalaignar Magalir Urimai Thittam (Kalaignar Women’s Rights Grant Scheme).

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This will mark the implementation of the most populist among the seven assurances given by Mr. Stalin in the run up to the 2021 Assembly elections. Here is are major highlights of the scheme, named after former Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi in his birth centenary year.

What is the Kalaignar Magalir Urimai Thittam?

Under this scheme, an estimated 1.06 crore women, recognised as heads of families and enrolled as beneficiaries, would be given a monthly rights grant or basic income of ₹1,000 each. The intent of the scheme is to recognise the “unquantified efforts of women... who play a significant role in society by investing countless hours in both domestic responsibilities and external work”, according to the government order. The State Government acknowledged that if the value of this labour were to be calculated, women’s names would hold equal status in family properties, without the need for specific laws.

The entitlement of ₹12,000 per annum is meant to “improve the livelihood of women, enhance their standard of living and pave the way for them to live with self-respect in society”. Hence, the scheme has been named Women’s Rights Grant instead of merely referring to it as “assistance” for women.

Who are the eligible beneficiaries?

A woman, hailing from eligible families, who has completed 21 years of age (born before September 15, 2002), would be qualified to be a beneficiary of the scheme.

Watch | Why Stalin’s basic income scheme in Tamil Nadu for women has not pleased everyone   | Video Credit: Thamodharan Bharath

The beneficiary families applying should satisfy three economic criteria:

1. Families earning annual income below ₹2.5 lakh

2. Families holding less than five acres of wetland or less than ten acres of dryland

3. Families consuming less than 3,600 units of electricity per year for domestic use

There is no need to obtain income certificate or land records separately for applying.

Who can be declared women head of family?

While all persons whose names appear in a family card (ration card) will be considered as one family, the woman named as “head of the family” in the family card will be considered as the woman head of the family.

If the family card specifies a male as the head of the family, the wife of the head of the family in the family card will be treated as the woman head of the family. If the name of the wife of the male head of the family is not available in the family card for any reason, any other woman in the family card will be treated as the woman head of the family.

If there is more than one female member of the family, who has completed 21 years of age, the family members can choose one person to apply for availing benefit under this scheme. Besides, if the families are headed by unmarried single women, widows and transgenders, they will also be considered as the woman head of the family.

Who were ineligible to apply initially?

When the guidelines for scheme were notified in July, the Government had exempted certain categories of women from applying for the grant. These included women belonging to families of income tax payers, employees of government, public sector undertakings, banks, local bodies, cooperative societies, elected representatives (other than village panchayat ward members); and those having car, jeep, tractor and heavy vehicle for own use.

Besides, families receiving regular Social Security Scheme Pensions such as Old Age Pension (OAP), Widow Pension, Unorganised Workers’ Welfare Pension and families receiving Pension/Family pension from the Government were declared ineligible for the benefit.

However, families, with member affected with intellectual disability, severely affected persons, persons affected with parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis, persons affected with muscular dystrophy and leprosy affected persons, and are receiving maintenance allowance  given by Welfare of Differently Abled Persons Department, were made eligible to apply in this scheme, provided that they satisfied the other eligibility criteria under the Scheme and also do not fall under any of the ineligibility criteria specified in the scheme.

What changed?

In August, the Government, following several representations, announced that even women from families with persons receiving the differently abled pension or old age pension can apply for the scheme. The government said eligible women from families with members receiving such pension under the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme and the Chief Minister’s Farmers Security Scheme and through the Unorganised Workers Welfare Board can apply. 

In addition to this, in July, the Government had also enhanced from ₹1,000 to ₹1,200 the assistance to beneficiaries of social security pension schemes implemented by various departments of the Tamil Nadu government.

Why did the Tamil Nadu Government face criticism?

Opposition parties had criticised the eligibility criteria fixed by the Government for receiving the grant. The parties pointed out that Mr. Stalin had in his pre-election assurance, specifically mentioned that women heads belonging to all families, which draw rations under the Public Distribution System would certainly receive the grant of ₹1,000 per month.

But post-election, he restricted the number of beneficiaries by imposing economic conditions. Also, the Tamil Nadu Government had delayed the rollout of the scheme, whereas States such as Karnataka, which borrowed the idea, started implementation of the scheme soon after coming to power.

What now?

The State Government had received 1.63 crore applications, of which, following scrutiny, over 1.06 crore applicants have been shortlisted to benefit from the scheme. Mr. Stalin has instructed officials to inform rejected applicants the reason for the same. He has said they must be given an opportunity to clarify their doubts and apply again, if there is a need.

To begin with, the Government has allocated ₹12,000 crore for the rollout of the scheme from September 15, 2023.

Kalaignar Magalir Urimai Thittam in Tamil Nadu
On September 15, 2023, the birth anniversary of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) founder C.N. Annadurai, the M.K. Stalin Government will roll out the Kalaignar Magalir Urimai Thittam (Kalaignar Women’s Rights Grant Scheme).
Under this scheme, an estimated 1.06 crore women, recognised as heads of families and enrolled as beneficiaries, would be given a monthly rights grant or basic income of ₹1,000 each. 
The entitlement of ₹12,000 per annum is meant to “improve the livelihood of women, enhance their standard of living and pave the way for them to live with self-respect in society”. Hence, the scheme has been named Women’s Rights Grant instead of merely referring to it as “assistance” for women.
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