National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP)

The National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) is a welfare programme being administered by the Ministry of Rural Development. This programme is being implemented in rural areas as well as urban areas. NSAP represents a significant step towards the fulfilment of the Directive Principles of State Policy enshrined in the Constitution of India which enjoin upon the State to undertake within its means a number of welfare measures.

These are intended to secure for the citizens adequate means of livelihood, raise the standard of living, improve public health, provide free and compulsory education for children etc. In particular, Article 41 of the Constitution of India directs the State to provide public assistance to its citizens in case of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement and in other cases of undeserved want within the limit of its economic capacity and development. It is in accordance with these noble principles that the Government of India on 15th August 1995 included the National Social Assistance Programme in the Central Budget for 199596. The Prime Minister in his broadcast to the Nation on 28th July 1995 announced that the programme will come into effect from 15th August 1995. Accordingly the Govt. of India launched NSAP as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme w.e.f 15th August 1995 towards fulfilment of these principles.

The National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) then comprised of National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS), National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS) and National Maternity Benefit Scheme (NMBS). These programmes were meant for providing social assistance benefit to the aged, the BPL households in the case of death of the primary breadwinner and for maternity. These programmes were aimed to ensure minimum national standards in addition to the benefits that the States were then providing or would provide in future.


The scale of benefit and eligibility for various schemes of NSAP when first started were as follows:

National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS): Rs 75 per month is provided per beneficiary for destitute above 65 years. The scheme covered destitute having little or no regular means of subsistence from his / her own sources of income or through financial support from family members or other sources. In order to determine destitution, the criteria, if any, currently in force in the State / UT Governments were adapted. The Government of India reserved the right to review these criteria and suggest appropriate revised criteria.

National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS): A grant of Rs 5000 in case of death due to natural causes and Rs 10,000 in case of accidental death of the ?primary breadwinner? is provided to the bereaved household under this scheme. The primary breadwinner as specified in the scheme, whether male or female, had to be a member of the household whose earning contributed substantially to the total household income. The death of such a primary breadwinner occurring whilst he or she is in the age group of 18 to 64 years i.e., more than 18 years of age and less than 65 years of age, makes the family eligible to receive grants under the scheme.

National Maternity Benefit Scheme (NMBS): Under the scheme, Rs 300 per pregnancy upto the first two live births is provided. The beneficiary should belong to a household Below the Poverty Line (BPL) according to the criteria prescribed by Government of India.

In 1998, the amount of benefit under NFBS was raised to Rs 10,000 in case of death due to natural causes as well as accidental causes. The assistance under the National Maternity Benefit Scheme which was at Rs 300/-, was increased to Rs 500/- per pregnancy.


Features  of  the Scheme

Some of the other important features of the schemes are as follows:

  1. Selection
    The Gram Panchayat / Municipalities are expected to play an active role in the identification of the beneficiaries under the three schemes.
  1. Disbursement
    Apart from the disbursal of benefits through the accounts of the beneficiaries in Banks or in Post Office Savings Banks or through Postal Money Order the assistance under NOAPS, may also be disbursed in public meetings such as Gram Sabha meetings in rural areas and by neighbourhood / mohalla committees in urban areas.
  1. Monitoring
    The States / UTs have the flexibility to implement the schemes through any State Govt. Department. They have to however, designate a Nodal Secretary at the State level to report the progress of implementation by coordinating with different departments concerned with the implementation of the schemes. The progress of implementation of the schemes is to be reported through quarterly reports in a given monitoring format by the 15th of month of the following quarter. Non reporting of the physical and financial progress reports is construed as lack of progress and therefore, may result in the non-release of additional central assistance for the last quarter of the financial year. Since the ACA allocations for the schemes lapse at the end of the financial year, the instalments cannot be released during the next financial year, even if a State Govt. reports progress subsequent to the cut-off dates fixed as above.

The NSAP is included in the schemes to be reviewed by the Vigilance & Monitoring Committee (V&MC) constituted at the District Level, along with other Rural Development Schemes. MPs re represented in the V&MC in the District.

  1. Guidelines of the Programme
    Guidelines were issued by the MoRD to all the States and UTs when NSAP was a Centrally Sponsored Programme. The State Governments may now issue their own guidelines for more effective implementation of the schemes. The State Governments have been given the requisite flexibility in the choice and implementation of the schemes. It is expected that State Governments will streamline disbursements so that the payments are made timely, will also have a mechanism for a more transparent system of sanction especially in the event of death of beneficiaries under NOAPS, adopt a system of annual verification and will also actively involve the Gram Panchayats.
  1. State-run Schemes
    Several States supplement the old age scheme with their own budgets. Most States are giving more than the amount made available under NOAPS while some States cover additional beneficiaries and others have reduced the age for eligibility. Presently the work on a state-wise compilation of all the pension schemes run by each state, including the pension schemes under NSAP, is underway.


Monitoring  of the Scheme

Annual verification and Social Audit has been introduced under NSAP. All the States are to complete the Annual verification by 30th June and the Social Audit by 30th September, each year.

A checklist for the schemes under NSAP is provided to the National Level Monitors (NLMs) during their field visits. Each NLM is advised to visit the district, block and village level offices and meet the government functionaries, public representatives and the beneficiaries to get feedback on the implementation of the schemes under NSAP.

Monthly meeting of the Divisional Head with the Nodal Officers of each State/UT is held in Delhi. Also a quarterly Performance Review Committee meeting is also held.