Modi govt plans Rs 5 lakh self-employment push for SC/OBCs who lose breadwinners to Covid

Covid patients at a Varanasi hospital
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Covid patients at a Varanasi hospital | Representational image | ANI

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New Delhi: Economically weak families from the Scheduled Castes/Other Backward Classes that have lost breadwinners to Covid-19 could soon count on help from the Modi government to get back on their feet. 

The Union Social Justice Ministry is working on a credit-linked capital subsidy scheme for the families of SCs and OBCs in the unorganised sector, senior government officials told ThePrint. 

The scheme, the government officials said, will help the families pursue livelihood projects costing up to Rs 5 lakh to ensure a sustainable income for the household. The assistance will include a capital subsidy of up to Rs 1 lakh, or 20 per cent of the project cost, coupled with soft loans. 

Speaking to ThePrint, the government officials said those with an annual income of less than Rs 3 lakh will be eligible for the scheme. The scheme, they added, will only be available to those who lost the breadwinners, or the primary earners of the family. The breadwinners, the officials said, should be aged 18-60 years. 

“India has been afflicted with the Covid-19 pandemic since March 2020. Recently, a second wave of the pandemic has occurred. The pandemic has brought out untold misery and sufferings for the affected families both in urban and rural areas,” said a senior government official, explaining the need for the scheme. 

“The livelihoods of the people have been affected badly. The pandemic has also led to the death of over 3 lakh people across India, as per official figures. Especially where the persons who were primary breadwinners for the family died due to Covid-19, the affected households have fallen into debt,” the official added.  

To enable such households to “stand on their feet, it is proposed to identify and finance livelihood projects consisting of capital subsidy and soft loans bearing concessional interest rates to help them undertake need-based self-employment activities”, the official said. 

Once approved, the scheme will be implemented by “state channelising agencies/channelising agencies of the National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSCFDC) and the National Backward Classes Finance & Development Corporation (NBCFDC)”, which are Social Justice Ministry vehicles to provide support to the two groups. The finer modalities of the scheme are yet to be worked out.

Also Read: Covid is frightening. But the bigger worry is Indians’ lost hope

For income-generating activities

The government had Saturday announced a slew of measures, including a pension for dependents, for those who lost their lives to Covid-19. However, these benefits were limited to the organised sector. 

Talking about the proposed scheme for SC/OBC workers in the unorganised sector, a second government official said the “objective is to identify a livelihood project that produces sustainable income so that the household ravaged by Covid-19 will be able to secure decent income”. 

“Under this, it is proposed to extend financial support in the form of a credit-linked capital subsidy scheme for income-generating activities. The benefit will be available to such families whose breadwinners lost their lives due to Covid-19.” 

According to the proposal, the assistance will be given to the eligible immediate relative of the deceased.

(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)

Also Read: Death and journalism: India’s Covid deaths are undercounted, but twice the Partition toll?


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