away. Shanta and her husband will still live alone. But their combined pension savings would have grown to nearly Rs 10 lakh over the years and they would now receive an inflation-indexed pension of nearly Rs 6,000 per month directly into their prepaid accounts. Naturally, they won’t struggle to make ends meet. For Shanta and her husband, each new day would now be as secure and happy as the last. And they will live together with dignity, month after month for the next 20 years.
Although this version may sound improbable, Shanta’s future has become brighter of late — thanks largely to the efforts of Nandan Nilekani and the promise of Raghuram Rajan. Each piece of the micro-savings ecosystem and the plumbing that Shanta needs to address her lifecycle needs and risks, already exists.
Nearly half of India has an Aadhaar number. Between NPS-Lite, Janshree Bima Yojana and the RSBY, the government is already committed to delivering social security co-contributions of roughly Rs 1,800 per year from the budget to people like Shanta. Hundreds of thousands of transaction points, capable of collecting micro-payments using Aadhaar-linked mobile wallets or prepaid cards, exist. Over 1,00,000 ATMs and many more BC outlets are spread across the country and offer a convenient and secure cash withdrawal facility.
All we now need is for the financial regulators to accept an Aadhaar-authenticated eKYC. We also need to bring the National Pension System (NPS), RSBY (Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna) and the JBY (JanaShree Bima Yojana) together as a simple, over-the-counter, integrated social security solution for the countless Shantas in urban and remote rural locations. And of course, we need to apply uniform, Aadhaar-linked and authenticated eligibility criteria across these three schemes.
If we can do this quickly, and do it well, we may still be in time to ensure that Shanta and her husband live happily ever after.
Gautam Bhardwaj is managing director and co-founder of Invest India Micro Pension Services.