Heaps of stones lie outside the room where 62-year-old Madan Lal Deegwal lives with his family of seven in Peetham Puri village of Rajasthan’s Sikar district. The stones are the only remnants of two rooms of the house which collapsed during last year’s monsoon. Classified as BPL, the family, which belongs to the SC Regar caste, is a beneficiary of several government schemes but barely manages to scrape through every month
(1) Madan Lal Deegwal, 62
Entitled to the Rajasthan Vridhyabastha Pension Yojana for men above 58 (Rs 500, hiked in January to Rs 750).
“The pension amount is too less,” Deegwal says, adding he has been getting the money only for five months, despite applying several times before. “The officials used to keep rejecting my papers… sometimes say they are incomplete or point to spelling mistakes in names.” He is yet to get the increased entitlement.
“I have a lung disease and had to stop working as a labourer. The free medicines that we get from government hospitals are not enough and every 8-10 days, I go to a local clinic — they charge Rs 250 for every injection.”
Of his three sons, one, Vinod, works as as a labourer in Gurgaon and could not be contacted.
(2) Daughter-in-law Santosh Deegwal, 29
Married to Deegwal’s eldest son Krishna, Santosh is illiterate and does not avail of any government benefit. She has two children — Komal, 4, whom she plans to enrol in school next year, and a six-month old boy.
(3) Wife Manni Devi, 57
Like her husband, entitled to the Rajasthan Vridhyabastha Pension Yojana for women over 55. The pension amount should be at least Rs 1,500, Manni says, adding that she tries to supplement it with MNREGA work but it is not enough. “When I have work, I earn Rs 125-150 a day. But I rarely get MNREGA work for 100 days a year as promised. Generally it is 70 days.”
She says the 40 kg subsidised wheat the family gets every month — at Rs 2 per kg — is not enough. “A family of seven needs 80-90 kg.”
(4) Son Pintu, 22
Pintu is doing his Master’s in geography. He is entitled to the Central scholarship given to SC students after their Class 10, but says he doesn’t get anything now. “During my second year of BA, I got Rs 8,000, but after that, I didn’t fill the form on time and got no money.” He says he hasn’t found any job so far. “I don’t want to work as a labourer. I will apply for the unemployment allowance this year.”
Son Krishna, 29
He is entitled to the unemployment allowance, but hasn’t been getting any money. Away in Bikaner for a wedding, Krishna says he has not got the allowance since receiving Rs 4,000 in two instalments (Aug 2015, Feb 2016), and now works as a daily wage labourer. On the hiked allowance, he is despondent. “I don’t think I will be allowed to apply again.”
(5) Daughter Meena, 23
Entitled to Rs 750 a month under the Vishesh Yogyajan Pension Yojana for the differently-abled. In 2014, Meena, who has been physically challenged since she was a child, got a tricycle from the government. The tricycle, now broken down, was never of much help, Meena says, adding it wasn’t suitable for the rocky roads around their home. But that’s not her biggest worry. “I am in college, getting a degree in Basic School Teacher Training Course. The fee is around Rs 19,000 annually and we struggle to pay that.”
As she makes do with a pair of crutches to walk, Meena wishes she could get a scooter instead of the tricycle.