At A Glance

MGNREGS as experienced by local administrators and beneficiaries across 5 states in India

Beneficiaries’ experience in the 5 study states

  • Enrolment in MGNREGS

    47% of rural low-income households had at least one active job card.

    30% of low-income rural adults were listed on a job card.

    29% of low-income rural adults were not listed on an active job card but wanted to be listed on one. Of these, majority (72%) belonged to households that did not have a job card at all.

  • Applying for MGNREGS employment

    70% of job card holders wanted MGNREGS jobs at least once during the last year.

    18% of job card holders tried to apply for work but could not submit their application.

  • Receiving employment

    All households that applied for work, received it; but most got less work than they wanted. On average, households applied for 95 days of work against their annual entitlement of 100 days but received 66 days of work.

  • Getting MGNREGS wages

    95% of job card holders who received MGNREGS employment in the last year had received wages for their most recent employment.

    58% of job card holders who received MGNREGS employment in the last year, received their wages late (i.e., beyond the stipulated 15 days).

  • Grievance redressal

    20% of job card holders had a MGNREGS related grievance, and 91% of them sought redressal; grievances were fully redressed for 27% of those who sought redressal.

  • Women’s employment under MGNREGS

    Over the last 5 years, women accounted for more than 50% of person days of employment generated under the scheme.

    6% of women with a job card could not apply for employment and said this was because there was no work available for women.

Key numbers for a frontline perspective on the rollout of ONORCas experienced by ration card holders and PDS dealers

Ration Card Holders’ Experience in the 5 Study States

  • 12% of households with a ration card tried to use PDS portability recently; 20% of migrant households with a ration card tried to use PDS portability recently.

  • 6% of all ration card holders who had not used PDS portability would like to do so in the future; at least one-fifth of them had not used it, because they were unaware of ration portability.

  • 12% of households that tried availing rations using portability experienced a transaction failure compared to 9% of households overall who experienced failures (for portability and non-portability transactions combined) when trying to collect their rations.

  • 4% of households that tried to access rations under portability could not do so, as compared to 1% of households using PDS overall.

PDS Dealers’ Experience

  • 97% of PDS dealers knew that ration portability was possible; 73% knew that inter-state ration portability was allowed.

  • 66% of PDS dealers reported receiving ration card holders not registered to their FPS; 28% of these PDS dealers were unable to serve at least some portability customers, primarily due to technology failures or because they feared running out of stocks.

  • 10% of PDS dealers ran out of stock at least once in the three months preceding the survey, often due to demand fluctuation under portability

  • 32% of PDS dealers felt that portability would make their business model unviable, at least some of the time.

  • 52% of PDS dealers did not use exception handling methods when ePoS-based transactions failed due to biometric authentication or connectivity failure.

Select findings from 47,000 low-income households on the accessibility and sufficiency of government entitlements during Covid-19 crisis

A landmark survey of 47,000 low-income households across 15 states in India highlighted how entitlement schemes could adapt to families’ needs in a time of crisis, and helped inform what is needed for the path ahead.

  • The Extent of Financial Impact

    It emerged that nearly three-quarters of primary income earners lost jobs or wages and many did not expect to return to work in the near future. 

    For the roughly 174 million people living below the poverty line in India, government entitlements were a critical lifeline — and would be for some time. 

  • Awareness

    Through the pandemic, knowledge about eligibility for entitlements improved gradually, but there were lags in a few states, especially West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab where delivery and efficacy of government relief efforts was slower.  

  • Coverage

    PDS and cash coverage was strong, including among India’s marginalised communities.  Cash transfers reached 85% of families and were helpful to them, but many struggled to withdraw and use funds

    MGNREGS registration was low, despite enrolment drives for returning migrants

  • Access And Use

    PDS delivery steadily broadened, providing grain to 9 in 10 households, and pulses to half.

    14% of registered households reported they had not yet received cash. 2 in 5 had still not tried to access funds they were entitled to, largely citing the lockdown.

  • Sufficiency

    The vast majority of those surveyed said government support proved helpful. 

    Yet, even as the lockdown ended, families had little margin for contingency. A quarter had depleted their reserves, up 41% since mid-April 2020, suggesting a need for more government support. 

How are students coping with remote learning since physical closure of schools in March 2020?

Despite government, private and civil society actors coming together to roll out a wide range of remote learning resources, students were falling behind during the physical closure of schools since March 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Only 60 per cent of students had used any remote learning resources; and even among those, nearly 80 per cent reported that they were learning less or significantly less than in school. The study suggested that the main reasons were:

  • Digital channels are not as accessible as often perceived

    10% of students overall do not have access to any of the following devices – smartphone, feature phone, television (TV), radio, or laptop/computer with significant variation between states.

  • Even when students have access to devices, awareness around using them for remote learning maybe low

    Of the respondents who did not use any remote learning opportunities, 45% of them reported not being aware of any resources from which to learn.

  • Fewer girls, younger students, rural students and government school students use high-tech tools

    Use of WhatsApp and YouTube when compared for different categories; girl’s usage was 8% lower than that of boys; usage by younger students (5-13-year-old) was 16% lower than that of older students (13-18-year-old); rural students’ usage was 15% lower compared to urban students and for students of class 1 to 5, government school students’ usage was 10% lower compared to students from private schools.

  • Availability of key offline resources, textbooks and teachers remain far from universal

    Despite many states distributing textbooks for the new academic year, nearly one in three parents still ask for support with textbooks and other learning materials. Nearly 30-40 per cent of students are not in touch with their teachers, though this varies significantly by state.

  • Remote learning resources are generally perceived to be less effective than in-school teaching

    Other than home visits, more than half of teachers surveyed perceive remote learning materials and methods to be less effective than classroom teaching.

  • Poor mental health holds students back

    About a third of elementary students (as perceived by their parents) and nearly half of secondary students feel that their mental and socio-emotional health has been poor or very poor since May 2020.

  • Students from migrant and scheduled tribes (ST) families face more challenges

    While students from migrant and ST families use remote learning resources at similar levels to their peers, when parents were asked if their children were learning as much as before the pandemic, 15% more migrant parents and 9% more ST parents reported that their children were learning less now. Parents of children from migrant families (60%) and from ST families (53%) rated their children’s mental and socio-emotional well-being as poor or very poor compared to the status reported for the overall sample.

  • While students in private schools mostly used WhatsApp, private tuition and live video classes, their government school peers mostly used textbooks, teacher home visits and YouTube for learning, so that there were no major differences in overall usage levels. 

  • Over half of the students who used remote learning did so across multiple resources

    WhatsApp is the most used tool by students and teachers alike (over half of students and 89 per cent of surveyed teachers). Many parents, adolescents and teachers see value in technology tools, some even believe they are more effective than in-person learning. Moreover, students who are perceived to be learning more are also more likely to have used high-tech tools.

  • More than 90 per cent of students expect to return if schools re-open in the next three months, mainly to learn more and to better prepare for exams While health concerns are by far the largest deterrent to returning to school, a sizeable number of respondents cited financial constraints as well – 10 per cent of families could not afford to send children back to school and 6 per cent needed children to help earn an income.

Understanding the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic on women belonging to low-income households in India

What were the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on key aspects of the lives of women in low-income households?

  • We estimate that nearly 87 lakh women who were working before the pandemic remained out of work as of October 2020.

  • Women made up just 24% of those working before the pandemic and yet, they accounted for 28% of all those who lost jobs, and 43% of those yet to recover their paid work.

  • A small number of women report continued food deprivation and limited access to menstrual supplies and contraceptives through the pandemic.

    The pandemic has further exacerbated women’s nutritional challenges. More than one in ten (or estimated 3.2 crore) women limited their food intake or ran out of food in the week they were surveyed

    Women’s access to menstrual pads decreased. ~16% of women (estimated 1.7 crore) who used menstrual pads prior to the pandemic had no or limited access to menstrual pads between March and November, primarily because they could no longer afford these items.

    Access to contraceptives fell. More than one in three married women were unable to access contraceptives, primarily due to concerns about health and hygiene.

  • Notably, women did not face sanitation issues. Approximately 4% of women in our sample faced decreased access to toilets at a rate similar as before the pandemic. This was a bright spot as most (92%) women in our sample had access to their own toilets.

  • More women reported an increase in unpaid work and a decrease in rest than men. ~47% of women compared to 43% of men reported an increase in chores and 41% of women compared to 37% of men reported an increase in unpaid care work. At the same time (and perhaps in part because of the increase in unpaid work) far fewer women than men (16 percentage points (pp) reported an increase in rest during the pandemic.

  • More women from historically marginalized groups were affected in the areas we studied. Women from lower-income households, Muslim as well as migrant women, and single separated/divorced women were among the hardest hit.

  • Lastly, rural women did not experience anywhere near the same level of job recovery as rural men. Rural men in our study were both less likely to lose their paid work and the fastest to recover; however, rural women seemed to lag rural men in the recovery (32% rural men lost paid work during the peak of the crisis compared to 41% of rural women) and only 4% are yet to recover (vs 11% of rural women).

To what extent did government programs reach and help mitigate the negative effects of the pandemic among women from low-income households?

  • Respondents said that government welfare scheme and Self-Help Groups (SHG) were important in helping them navigate the pandemic. About one in three women considered the government’s support most crucial in weathering the crisis (this was at par with perceived support from family).

  • Specifically, MGNREGA, Jan Dhan, and PDS supported 12 M, 100 M, and 180 M (1.2 crore, 10 crore, and 18 crore) women respectively during the crisis.

    These rails had strong coverage and focused on women most in need (though there remains room for improvement).

    MGNREGA has been particularly beneficial for women, highlighting the importance of designing welfare schemes that focus on women.

    The SHGs network also continued to serve as a reliable borrowing channel for both its members and women in the community. 

Explore the highlights from State of Aadhaar 2019’s pulse and in-depth surveys

Explore the highlights from State of Aadhaar 2019. These findings are from a pulse survey with 147,868 households in 28 states and union territories, and an in-depth survey with 19,209 households in 16 states and 1 union territory.

  • Aadhaar is becoming ubiquitous in India

    95% of adults
    have Aadhaar, and on an average use it once a month

    75% of children
    have Aadhaar

  • A notable minority still does not have the ID

    90% of residents
    in Assam and

    61% of residents
    in Meghalaya do not have Aadhaar

    30% of homeless, and 27% of third-gender residents
    do not have Aadhaar

    8% of people do not have Aadhaar
    – or an estimated 102 million people,
    75 million of whom are children

  • Updating is the hardest part of the Aadhaar process

    33% of people
    who tried to update found the process difficult;
    one in five did not succeed

    4% of people
    currently have errors in the information on their Aadhaar card

    15% of people
    have an error in their linked mobile phone number;
    an additional 39% have not linked a number at all

  • Aadhaar has supported inclusion

    49% of people
    used Aadhaar to access one or more services for the very first time
    (e.g., ration, MGNREGS, social pensions, SIM cards, and/or bank accounts)

    For 8% of people,
    Aadhaar was their first ID ever

  • For many residents Aadhaar has improved service delivery

    80% of beneficiaries
    feel Aadhaar has made PDS rations, MGNREGS and social pensions more reliable

  • 0.8% of people
    experienced exclusion due to Aadhaar-related reasons from a key welfare service (PDS, MGNREGS, social pensions) which they had earlier received. (Our survey also found that 3.3% of people experienced exclusion because of non-Aadhaar related problems from a key welfare service which they had earlier received)

    1% of MGNREGS job card holders
    did not get work the last time they tried due to Aadhaar-related reasons (compared to 31% due to non-Aadhaar related reasons)

    0.5% of social pension beneficiaries
    did not receive their pension the last time they expected it due to problems with Aadhaar (compared to 5.7% who did not receive it due to non-Aadhaar related reasons and many more who could not identify a reason)

    1.5% of PDS users
    experienced a biometric authentication failure and did not receive ration in their last attempt. However, 3.2% of PDS users received their rations despite biometric authentication failure.

  • Despite the Supreme Court ruling, many people find that Aadhaar is de facto mandatory for bank accounts, SIM cards, and school enrolment

    More than half of all people
    who produced Aadhaar to get a SIM card or bank account, said their provider accepted only Aadhaar, even after the Supreme Court ruling

    3.3% of people
    were denied bank accounts, and 0.8% of people were denied SIM cards due to Aadhaar-related problems

    0.5% of 6 to 14 year olds
    could not enrol in school due to Aadhaar-related reasons

    65% of people
    mistakenly believe that providing Aadhaar is mandatory by law for bank accounts, SIM cards, and school enrolment

  • Most people appreciate Aadhaar’s universal acceptance; some have concerns

    72% of residents
    appreciate the convenience of Aadhaar as a universal ID, but almost half of these same people worry about the risks of linking it to too many services

    92% of people
    are very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with Aadhaar

    67% of people
    who have been excluded from a service due to problems with Aadhaar still say they are satisfied

  • The newer digital features of Aadhaar are yet to be embraced

    77% of people
    have never used a newer digital feature of Aadhaar (such as the mAadhaar app, QR code scanning, virtual Aadhaar number, or masked Aadhaar)

    Only 39%
    have linked a correct mobile phone number to their Aadhaar

  • Most people trust the Aadhaar system

    90% of people
    trust that their data are safe in the Aadhaar system

    61% of welfare beneficiaries
    trust that Aadhaar prevents others from accessing their benefits

    8% worry about the misuse of their Aadhaar,
    and 2% have experienced fraud that they believe was related to Aadhaar