According to the census of 2011, India with a population of 121 crores has 5.6 crores widows. Vrindavan- the “city of widows”, alone has an estimated 20,000 widows who are mostly children. Consequently, the government has been running the Widow Pension Scheme since long.
Widowhood comes with a pandora’s box of socio-economic problems. Apart from being socially ostracised to being seen as ‘men- eaters’, from having lost their emotional partner to monetary support, widows bear the brunt of the death of their husbands their entire life.
With an aim to curtail their plight, the Government has launched the Vidhwa Pension Scheme 2022. State governments have enrolled their respective schemes under the umbrella to aid the implementation of the scheme. Additionally, crediting the pension amount directly to the bank account of the beneficiaries every month is a great step towards direct benefit transfers (DBT).
- Only widows are eligible to derive benefits from this scheme.
- Moreover, the beneficiary will be women between 18-60 years of age group.
- Also, the scheme is applicable to only women living in BPL (Below Poverty Line)
The scheme varies from state-to-state:
- Uttar Pradesh Vidhwa Pension Yojana has been enrolled with a pension amount of Rs 300 every month.
- Haryana Vidhwa Pension Yojana with Rs 2250 every month. However, to avail these benefits the yearly pay of the family needs to be Rs 200000 or less. Along with this, submitting the death certificate of the husband is mandatory.
- Maharashtra Vidhwa Pension Yojana with Rs 600 every month. Moreover, if the women has more than 1 child, she can avail Rs 900 per month. In addition to this, the annual income of the candidate should not exceed Rs 21,000.
- Rajasthan Vidhwa Pension Scheme offers Rs 500 every month to women in the below 55 years of age. Along with this, the women belonging to the age group of 55-60 years, she is entitled to receive Rs 750 per month. Additionally, women in the age group between 60-75 years will receive the financial help of Rs 1000 and the above 75, Rs 1500 per month.
- Gujarat Vidhwa Pension Yojana with Rs 1250
- Delhi Vidhwa Pension Yojana with Rs 2500 is also available.
The scheme is a significant step towards the attainment of the Directive Principles in Articles 41 and 42. Thus, recognizing the parallel duty of the Central and the State Governments within the welfare realm.
- To monetarily empower the widows
- Provide them with a life of dignity and independence
- To financially help women after the death of their husbands
- To raise the standard of their living
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However, delayed payments and meagre allocation ranging from Rs 300-900 in some states is a critical problem in the scheme. Consequently, there has been a long-standing demand to increase the allocation to provide a basic minimum sustainable amount. It would be prudent to take into consideration the panel report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Rural Development to increase the appropriation amount.