Government Entitlements

Families below-poverty line heavily rely on government entitlements to make ends meet. The role of such entitlements, both old and new, ask for thorough evaluation uncovering realities about what was working and opportunties for urgent improvements. Are the govt. entitlements sufficient? Who is covered? Who is left out? What more do families need to make it through this Covid-19 crisis?

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.