National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS)

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India has virtually no comprehensive system of old age protection. Less

than 10 per cent of the labor force has pension coverage, primarily in

the formal sector and there was no central government scheme relating

to old-age security until recently (although many state governments had

assistance schemes for the poor aged). The Government of India introduced

the NOAPS in 1995 as part of the National Social Assistance Program.18

The scheme is relatively small with an allocation of less than Rs 5 billion

in 2000–01 relative to an estimated 70 million destitute-aged in the country.

However, it is one of the few successful targeting programs in operation,

with low leakage of benefi ts from intended benefi ciaries.

The NOAPS targets old persons who are considered destitute in the sense

of not having any regular means of subsistence on their own or through

fi nancial support from family members. Applicants have to be above 65

years, and benefi ciaries are expected to provide certifi cates of age and proof

of their destitute status. At the launch of the scheme, each state had an initial

ceiling on number of benefi ciaries, not exceeding half of the offi cial belowthe-

poverty-line population in the state above age 65, as estimated through

the administrative identifi cation system. The targeting is done by selection

of benefi ciaries by Gram Panchayats based on targets communicated by

state governments. The amount of the pension is modest – Rs 75 or US

$1.60 per month per benefi ciary – though the state governments can add

to this amount from their own resources.

Implementation of the program is done by authorities at the district

level with the assistance of Panchayats. The latter assist in selection of

benefi ciaries and are also responsible for reporting the death of a pensioner,

and have the right to stop or recover payments sanctioned on the basis

of false information. The central government transfers funds directly to

the district administration through district rural development agencies in

biannual installments, while benefi ciaries are paid through accounts in banks

or other fi nancial institutions. Cash payments are also allowed, provided

they are made in public before the village assembly.