Will the Swatch Bharat program fail?

Government programs in India

The Indian government has implemented a variety of state aid programs to alleviate poverty in the country. An essential aspect of the projects we support is to give the poorest of the poor access to these programs - through information and practical help, e.g. filling out forms, which is an insurmountable hurdle for illiterate people.

An overview of the most important government programs to fight poverty in West Bengal and India as a whole can be found HERE. In the article below, IH employee Astrid Kösterke explains which government aid programs are used in our projects and how this will multiply your donation:

The lever correct apply: Like the financial project funding from India Aid
freeing up a great deal of internal Indian financial resources

(Astrid Kösterke, Autumn Info 2020, pdf file here)

India now has a large number of government social and aid programs ready to fight poverty, promote health, education and decent housing. However, many people who are entitled to it do not know about their existence or fail to apply because they cannot read and write, they lack the necessary documents or a smartphone if the application has to be submitted digitally. In all India Aid projects, it is therefore a central task of the project staff to provide information about the state offers and to help with their applications. this in turn causes a multiplication of the benefits of the donations from Germany - your donations - for the India Aid projects.

It was a donor who suggested a few months ago to research how much money is specifically mobilized through which state aid programs in our projects. We therefore asked the project partners to compile the figures from the Indian financial year 2019/2020.1

The result is a variety of programs and a considerable amount of funds that have been used, which have benefited a large number of socially disadvantaged children and their families (in many cases Adivasi and Dalits, but also Muslim and Christian minorities).

In order to be able to work with the large amount of data from the approximately 35 programs in our five selected projects, we assigned them to funding priorities.2In the following calculations, we only took into account programs that actually involve financial contributions and for which no direct consideration was given. For example, benefits in kind (food) were not recorded, nor was the 100-day work guarantee program introduced nationwide in 2005 for people below the poverty line3 or discounted loan programs. We assigned the remaining 19 programs to five funding categories and calculated the total of the grants and the number of grant recipients.

A total of 34,364 people in five project areas benefited from programs with direct grants in 2019/20. Graphic 1 makes it clear that most of them received grants from educational programs (38%) or in the field of agriculture (37%). 12% benefited from health and social programs, just as many from subsidies for building and living (houses, toilets). A measurable proportion of 1% received support from programs for people with disabilities.

In terms of money In the 2019/20 financial year, a total of over eight million euros were paid out from Indian government funding programs with the help of our project partners in the project areas. The majority of 76% was accounted for by building houses and toilets. Another 11% came from educational programs. Health and social affairs accounted for 7%, 5% agricultural aid and 1% programs for people with disabilities.

Graphic 2 shows the distribution across the five categories. The average amount of payments in these categories was € 234 per person (based on an exchange rate of 1: 76.2 achieved by us in 2019/20). The values ​​are between € 30 and € 149 per person, and € 1,464 for programs for building houses and toilets. An average value without the category building & living results from the remaining € 1.9 million a "more realistic" average value of € 62 per person (for 30,162 beneficiaries).4

The Total leverage In the case of the five projects, the relationship between the donations transferred by India Aid 2019/20 (€ 141,000) to the total amount of grants from government programs (€ 8,024,589) shows: One euro “invested” by India Aid generated an average of Indian government funds worth almost 57 euros.

Success story: Seva Kendra Calcutta (SKC)
Our long-standing partner organization Seva Kendra Calcutta (SKC) with its project “Communities without child labor” in the Baduria Block, North-24-Parganas District, is particularly successful in terms of support for the retrieval and use of government aid programs. SKC works in three municipalities with a total of approx. 95,000 inhabitants. We want to use your example to show you what kind of programs are involved - including some that we would not think of straight away in Germany ...

Example Seva Kendra Calcutta (SKC)

Funding categories of governmental Indian / West Bengali aid programs


Total SKC
total in €

per person
in €

Health, social affairs, pensions / maintenance allowances

  • Prevention for pregnant women (hospital childbirth)
  • Health insurance (payments up to Rs 5,000 per family per year)
  • one-time payment of Rs 25,000 upon marriage of adult daughter
  • Rs 2,000 grant for cremation
  • Pensions for old people and widows




Educational programs

  • Students who belong to disadvantaged population groups (Dalits, Adivasi) and minorities (Muslims, Christians)
  • Girls 14-18 years: half-yearly payments of Rs 500 for school attendance and a one-off Rs 25,000 for girls between 18 and 19 years of age, provided that they are unmarried and enrolled in an educational institution
  • Bicycle for pupils after finishing the 8th grade
  • Grant of Rs 1,500 per month for an unemployed family member aged between 18 and 24




building and living

  • Promotion of house building in rural areas for families who do not have a permanent house (pucca house)
  • Subsidy for gas connection in the house
  • Grant of up to Rs 12,000 for the construction of a toilet (goal: "Open Defecation Free Village" / ODF) for certain groups of people




People with disabilities

  • monthly pension of Rs 1,000 for people with disabilities




Agricultural insurance and subsidies for smallholders
(Crop failure, death)




Total SKC total




Database - source: information from SKC, own calculations

From the table it can be seen that more than 12,000 children, adolescents and young adults from Educational programs benefit. Girls are given targeted support in attending school until they reach the age of majority and in pursuing another educational path.

With such programs, the state counteracts the marriage of underage girls.5 In addition, adolescents are given a bicycle after completing eighth grade, as they often have to travel greater distances to attend secondary school. A bicycle not only promotes mobility, but also the educational opportunities of young people and thus the goal of ending child labor.

Out of the area building and living the program for the construction of private toilets is noticeable. In rural areas in particular, compliance with hygiene rules is by no means a matter of course, there are hardly any sewers or wastewater treatment. For women, a toilet means protection against attacks and the possibility of fear-free hydration, especially during the many months of tropical heat. It means fewer waterborne diseases for all family members and the neighborhood.

Many children in our projects live with their families in the simplest mud houses or bamboo huts with woven walls, exposed to wind and weather as well as vermin, snakes, poisonous insects, etc. A grant for the construction of a house with brick or concrete walls and a solid roof means a huge gain in security. The cost per home goes well beyond other grants and only a small number of families can benefit from this program each year.

With these examples we would like to give you an idea of ​​what you can do with your donations in the project areas from a different perspective. Even if the data basis used here is not complete, it results at least in the order of magnitude in which the donations you use unfold their effect due to the much higher performance of the Indian state. The projects you fund act as catalysts for development: through material improvements, but also through empowerment - the empowerment of children and their families who are socially marginalized. By opening up new opportunities and possibilities for them and by developing innovative project concepts. Together with our team of experts in Kolkata, we will work out a procedure to strengthen synergy effects through a more intensive exchange between the project partners via funding programs by the Indian state - for a better life for everyone.

1 We had data from our partner NGOs INSPIRATION, KJKS, Lake Gardens, Sanchar and SKC for the evaluation.
You can find 2 links to further information on the Indian government aid programs listed here HERE.
3 Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, one of the most important poverty reduction programs in India
4 In practice, “per person” usually means that not just one person, but those family benefits from it. Families can also take advantage of several programs at the same time. Due to the available data, it is currently not possible to provide more precise information.
5 The West Bengal government's "Kanyashree" program has received numerous national and international awards since 2014, including the United Nations Public Service Award (UNPSA) in 2017. https://publicadministration.un.org/unpsa/database/Winners/2017-Winners/Kanyashree-prakalpa. See also https://www.wbkanyashree.gov.in/kp_5.0/awards.php

List of links to the state aid programs in India and West Bengal

(Status: autumn 2020)

List of government programs as a pdf file HERE