Counting Rajasthan’s Covid orphans: Government scheme promises help, but gaps remain
A Class 12 student is at her maternal uncle's house to take her mind off her immediate loss of her parents. But another worry hogs her mindspace: Would her 13-year-old sister and six-year-old brother be able to continue their further studies in an English medium school? The future looks bleak as both their parents succumbed to death due to Covid-19 in May this year.
The three children are among 243 orphans identified under the CM Corona Baal Kalyan Yojana launched on June 12. The scheme provides for immediate financial assistance of Rs 1 lakh and Rs 2,500 monthly for each child who lost his/her parents due to Covid after March 1, 2020. Once the child turns 18, they will receive further Rs 5 lakh. “My son was the sole earning member of my family. I am 69 and my wife is also of the same age. We both are ailing now. He used to take care of my grain business too. Now, everything is lost...Though the government assistance will help us to some level, but who can fill the void of my son?” asks the grandfather of the student.Under the scheme of the government, widows and single-mothers, who lost their husbands to Covid, will be provided monthly financial help of Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500. Children with single-father have not been included in the scheme.
The Social Justice and Empowerment Department has identified 3,483 such widows and 4,197 children with single mothers. On the other hand, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights 'Baal Swaraj' portal shows that the 788 children without parents and 4,539 children with single parents in the state, according to Assistant Director of Directorate of Child Rights 'Reena Sharma'. The NCPCR data counts all cause of deaths, including Covid, from April 1, 2020.
When asked about the discrepancies, Samit Sharma, Secretary of State Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry, says that “The count of mothers is more or less the same. We have collected all the data from CMHOs and NCPCR's portal too. The reason for discrepancy in the number of orphans in the separate cut-off dates and inclusion criteria.” Sharma lauds the district administrations for implementing the scheme at the Ground level within two weeks of publishing the guidelines. The state government has till now disbursed financial assistance to around half of the selected women and the identification process has almost been done.