JHALAWAR, Rajasthan — Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ambitious crop insurance scheme has benefited insurance companies more than the farmers in Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje's home turf in Jhalawar district, HuffPost India has found.
Interviews with farmers, farm rights activists, bank and government officials in the district reveal how the Prime Minister Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), touted as "a path breaking scheme for farmers' welfare" by the government, has failed its intended beneficiaries because of red tape, lack of adequate publicity and thus, awareness among farmers, as well as apathy from official quarters. Most farmers say that the scheme, billed as an improvement over its past versions which were named differently, has failed to help them in times of need even though they have been paying premiums to the insurance companies.
Consider the case of Gopal Dangi, a forty-two-year-old farmer and resident of the Kalitalai village in Jhalrapatan, a part of the Jhalawar district and Raje's assembly constituency for three decades. Located in the state's southern border with Madhya Pradesh, Jhalawar is also a part of her son Dushyant Singh's Lok Sabha constituency.
In 2016, Gopal took a Rs 6 lakh agriculture loan through the Kisan Credit Card (KCC) from the Baroda Rajasthan Kshetriya Gramin Bank for three years. Since this loan was taken in March 2016, a month after the PMFBY was launched, it came bundled with crop insurance as well since the scheme makes it compulsory for all farmers availing agriculture loans to enroll and pay small parts of the premiums while the government pays the larger share.
Gopal's passbook for this account shows that he has paid varying premium amounts, mostly into couple of thousands, for the insurance ever since he got the loan. Gopal said the bank withdraws premium amounts from the account at regular intervals on its own and pays to the insurance companies, which keep changing every crop season. "I don't know the...