Press Information Bureau

Government of India



Ayushman Bharat off to a good start

As many as 28 state governments have signed MoUs with the NHA to implement NHPM. Over 8,000 hospitals have offered to join the network of empanelled facilities that would provide inpatient care to the identified beneficiaries, and 1,350 medical packages—covering surgery, medical and daycare treatments—have already been identified.


Nearly 3,000 years ago, one of ancient India’s great sages Yajnavalkya composed the Shanti Sukta: “Sarve bhavantu sukhinah; Sarve santu niramayah” (May all be happy, may everyone be free of diseases). What is striking is not only the prescience and universality of this invocation, but also the insight that happiness and health in a populace are inextricably intertwined.

Today, as we reflect upon the journey of India as an independent nation over the last seven decades, the achievements on the health front have not been insubstantial. The life expectancy has more than doubled, and infant and maternal mortality rates are a fraction of what prevailed in 1947. However, there can be no denying the fact that a lot of potential in this sector remains unharnessed—and ill-health is one of the leading causes of Indians falling into poverty. The government spends barely 1% of the GDP on health even as we are confronted with a two-front war—containing the rising burden of non-communicable diseases (NCD), even as we continue grappling with the control of communicable diseases and reproductive and child health issues. As a result, the citizens’ out-of-pocket (OOP) expenditure on health constitutes 62% of the total expenditure on health, placing India at 182nd position out of 191 countries on this indicator.

In fact, over 55% of this expenditure is on outpatient care, of which drugs constitute the biggest component. Expectedly, this structure of health financing places a disproportionate burden on the poor families and catastrophic health expenses have contributed to an increase in poverty levels in rural and urban areas by 3.6% and 2.9%, respectively.

Mindful of this reality and to plug the existing gaps in our health system, the government announced a new flagship scheme called the Ayushman Bharat in the Union Budget of 2018-19. One component of the scheme—the National Health Protection Mission (NHPM)—was to provide a financial cover of up to `5 lakh per family per annum to enable them increased access to secondary and tertiary healthcare, for the poor and lower middle class families, in a facility of their choice, irrespective of whether the ownership is public or private. As an initial measure, the plan is to cover 10.74 crore families, or about 50 crore individuals (roughly 40% of the total population), at the bottom of the pyramid as identified through a comprehensive Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) database.

The other component is to build a next-generation primary healthcare system, which would be publicly provided at locations close to the community. It sought to expand the reach and broaden the scope of our primary, preventive and promotive care through a network of 1.5 lakh Health & Wellness Centres (HWCs). It envisages population-level screening to detect diseases early and initiate timely treatment—which is especially critical in the context of India’s rising NCD burden. As an added measure, provision of free drug and diagnostics at these HWCs was expected to take care of that part of the OOP expenses borne by our poorest citizens for accessing outpatient care. The first of such HWCs has already been launched in the Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh, by the Prime Minister on April 14, and as we write this, work is going on in hundreds of others in the 117 ‘aspirational districts’ to provide meaningful and comprehensive primary care to our citizens.Image result for ayushman bharat pib

When the Ayushman Bharat was announced, critics argued that the scheme has been insufficiently imagined, that there was a lack of preparation, that it was not backed by adequate budgetary resources, and that the government lacked the techno-managerial wherewithal for its implementation. The Prime Minister, during his Independence Day address, gave a befitting response to the scepticism and to the naysayers by announcing the soft launch of NHPM, christened the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Abhiyan. This clarion call from the ramparts of the Red Fort is a clear indication that the teams at the National Health Agency (NHA) and the ministry of health & family welfare (MoHFW) have been able to successfully surmount the significant challenges in terms of creating an IT backbone, cleaning up the beneficiary database, setting in place the guidelines and procedures, negotiating with state governments, while simultaneously building capacities for its implementation. The fact that all this has been achieved in a relatively short span of just six months is a glowing testimony to the hard work and speedy execution by Indu Bhushan and his team at the NHA.

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In addition, as many as 28 state governments have signed a memorandum of understanding with the NHA to implement NHPM, and are in the final stages of preparation for a formal launch. Over 8,000 hospitals have offered to join the network of empanelled facilities that would provide inpatient care to the identified beneficiaries. To ensure that no one is left out, there is no cap on family size or age. Similarly, there can be no exclusion on account of pre-existing disease conditions, among those who are eligible for benefits from day one of the roll-out of the scheme. As many as 1,350 medical packages—covering surgery, medical and daycare treatments—have been identified so that the coverage includes most of the common medical conditions. The software application driving the scheme is designed in such a way that an individual can avail of the benefits anywhere in the country irrespective of her place of origin, and it is cashless for the beneficiary and the claim settlement is paperless for the hospitals participating in the scheme.


The NITI Aayog’s Three-Year Action Agenda highlights the need for creating a wave of new institutions to build a 21st century health system that every citizen of the country would be proud of. Setting up of HWCs and the NHA are steps in the right direction, which were long overdue. The government’s active stewardship in leveraging the potential of the mixed health system is a very welcome development. It is all the more heartening to note the political commitment at the highest levels to transform India’s health system into an affordable, accessible, inclusive and efficient system.

The Ayushman Bharat has the potential to protect millions who are pushed into poverty every year due to catastrophic health expenses. Building a well-functioning health system is a work of decades—it took Germany, for example, 127 years to accomplish universal coverage. Thailand undertook reforms over a period of 30 years prior to announcing its universal health policy in 2002. Now that we have unprecedented political backing for the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Abhiyan, the stage is set for its execution. Needless to say, in a country as large and complex as India, we will be faced with many implementation challenges. It is well worth recounting the Bhagavad Gita dictum of “Yogah Karmasu Kaushalam” (the path to redemption/salvation lies in the skilful execution of the job at hand). Thus, it is imperative we stay the course and pursue these ambitious initiatives with utmost vigour and determination.

4GG8U3jG_400x400.jpgAlok Kumar is Advisor and Vinod Paul is Member (Health), NITI Aayog.


#NewIndiaThruMylens #BadalteBharatKiTasvir

Instagram Photo Contest

Press Information Bureau and New Media Wing of Ministry of Information Broadcasting, in collaboration with Instagram, have organised a Photo Contest to mark the 3rd Anniversary of the Government. The Contest witnessed enthusiastic participation from across the country. The photographs showcase various Government schemes at work and their beneficiaries. The Contest was weaved around two major hashtags #BadalteBharatKiTasvir and #NewIndiaThruMylens

Congratulations to the winners!

Check out the winning entries here

  • Name of the Participant: Tushar Luthra
  • Instagram ID: @Photopilott
  • Context: Children going to school in a remote village in Basteri, Himachal Pradesh. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, a Government initiative, is helping children access free school education.

Tushar Luthra.PNG


  • Name of the Participant: Souvik LM Ghosh
  • Instagram ID: @svk_lm_10
  • Context: The Photo depicts cleaning up of streets which is a key element of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

Souvik LM GHosh.PNG


  • Name of the Participant: Rajnesh Pal
  • Instagram ID: @Rajneshpal
  • Context: Municipal Corporation Van in action, collecting solid and liquid waste separately. The Image is from Indore, in Madhya Pradesh

Rajnesh Pal.PNG


  • Name of the Participant: Vishal Narwal
  • Instagram ID: vishal_narwals
  • Context: The Solar panels mounted on top of a parking space in Badarpur, Delhi. National Solar Mission, the largest renewable energy capacity expansion programme in the world is being taken up by Government of India.

Vishal Narwal.PNG


  • Name of the Participant: Aksh Singh Rajput
  • Instagram ID: imakshsingh
  • Context: Free Wi-Fi facility is being provided by Google in collaboration with RailTel at major railway stations across India. The initiative reflects the ethos of Digital India programme. The Image is from Jammu Tawi Railway Station.

aksh singh rajput.PNG


  • Name of the Participant Anmol Bains
  • Instagram ID: anmolbns 
  • Context Recycling of cotton as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan; image from a village named Jagjit Nagar, in Himachal Pradesh

anmol bains.PNG


  • Name of the Participant: Govinda
  • Instagram ID: Govinda
  • Context: Swachh Bharat Abhiyan strives to make India Open Defecation Free through building of toilets and instilling in people behaviour change towards using toilets. This image is from Madhopur Village, Madhya Pradesh.



  • Name of the Participant: Ruchir Shah
  • Instagram ID: ruchirshah43
  • Context: A local woman from Nako Lake in Himachal Pradesh using her cell phone; the Digital India initiative of the Government aims to build IT, broadband and Telecom infrastructure across the country and fulfil the aspirations towards a fully connected India.

ruchir shah.PNG


  • Name of the Participant: Pallavi Joshi
  • Instagram ID: joshi.735944
  • Context: A child experiencing the exhibits on Science Express, an initiative of Department of Science & Technology, Govt. of India. The 16 coach AC train would be traveling across India with the objective of arousing interest of the young people in the field of science and technology.

pallavi joshi.PNG


  • Name of the Participant: Ujjwal
  • Instagram ID: ujwalmattu
  • Context: Water Vending Machines is an initiative by Ministry of Railways to provide clean drinking water to people travelling in trains. The image is from Jalandhar Railway Station, in Punjab.


Countering migration through insurance


Pithoragarh, popularly known as ‘Little Kashmir’, is a hill station of exquisite natural beauty and serenity. But for Kailashnath, surrounded though he is by ethereal beauty, life was handing out a raw deal. Like most small and marginal farmers in this hilly district, he too was finding it tough to cultivate and successfully harvest any crop because of the topography and lack of irrigation facilities. “More than half of 80,000 farmers of our district own less than 0.5 hectares. We depend on rainfall which has become unpredictable. Most of the youth have migrated. Damage from wild animals is another threat,” laments Kailashnath.

But now, things are changing for the better. “The district officials organised farmer meetings in our village and told us about profitable farming techniques and how we could claim money for crop loss under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna,” Kailashnath says.


Now, for the first time, Kailashnath and fellow farmers are not filled with anxiety; they have the security of PMFBY to fall back on. “Soon we hope we can persuade our young boys not to migrate. My sister is all alone now – all her five children are working as labourers in Delhi. Neither are they making enough money to send home, nor are they able to even eat properly. We miss our mountain air when we leave home. I hope and pray that at least now, agriculture could be profitable and we can make a decent living,” he says with a sad smile on his weather-beaten face.



Motorcycle diaries in the Himalayas


OMG Himalaya Adventures, a motorcycle touring  firm, was set-up by two local mountain boys, Virender & Charanjeev. While Virender was earlier working with a travel agency at Manali, Charanjeev was spending his life as a nomad after quitting his banking job two years back. Both happened to meet through their common acquaintance, their Bank Manager at Punjab National Bank, Aleo (Kullu) Branch.

It was during a discussion on adventure sports at the Bank that they came to know of Stand-up India Scheme and were motivated enough to take a plunge in starting their entrepreneurial venture.


The idea was to offer tailor-made self-driving motorcycle tours, exploring untamed territories of the Himalayas. To incubate this venture, the much-needed financial support was provided under Stand-up India by PNB, Aleo. The firm purchased 24 Royal Enfield motorcycles and ancillary mountaineering and sports gear, for the tours to provide one of its kind experience to the travellers. The District Administration helped with registration and licensing on priority basis.

The firm was motivated to employ local resources to contribute directly to the local economy and welfare of the community as a whole. With proper guidance & implementation, the firm has generated direct employment for around 25-30 local youth, apart from helping create indirect employment avenues as well as increasing income for locals by catering to tourists.

Today, OMG Himalaya Adventures is offering end to end solutions to tourists who want to explore the Himalayan mountains. With a majority of foreign clients, they are forever exploring new and exclusive trails for them. Their footprint covers Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and Uttarakhand. They are truly living up to the motto of  ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’.



Poultry farm in the backyard


What does a school teacher, chickens and incandescent bulbs in the West Khasi Hills District, Meghalaya, have in common? Well, Dmelticy Nongsiej who lives in Steplanglur, a tiny village in a remote part of the District, decided to augment her meagre salary from teaching as a temporary teacher by starting a poultry farm as a beneficiary of the new electrification Scheme.

DDUGJY final

The Scheme provided much-needed electricity for a controlled environment with optimum heat, essential for poultry farming. “My husband is a part time driver and both our incomes put together was not enough for even our day-to-day expenses, let alone schooling expenditure for our five children. When I came to know of this Scheme, I was at first quite skeptical because we didn’t really know when it would bring electricity to our village. But things happened so fast that it was unbelievable,” she narrated. Once electricity connection was given to the village, she came up with an idea to start a small poultry farm in her backyard. And it has, ever since, been a life changing decision for her and her family.

Considering the cold climate of Meghalaya, it is important to keep the chickens in controlled environment with optimum heat using large incandescent bulbs. In the absence of heating mechanism, the chickens would die in a matter of days in chilly and windy conditions of winter. “I started the poultry rearing business with just 150 chickens and when I sold the first batch of chickens, I earned an extra income of INR 15,000/-,” she said. And there has been no looking back for her since then. Not only has the poultry farm been a source of steady income to the family, but she herself has become a role model for women in the village, especially, women who face similar financial hardships.
Now, along with her skills as a teacher, she is also a shrewd businesswoman who can drive a hard bargain.



An apple orchard comes up


Yaman Chand of Hirni village in Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh has studied up to class 10. But words like precision farming, drip irrigation and high-density farming are terms of daily use for him. So familiar is he with new horticultural techniques and that is thanks to the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY).


Yaman Chand was cultivating vegetables and traditional varieties of fruits using the conventional Kuhal irrigation method, in which surface channels divert water from natural flowing streams. His earnings were paltry.

The launch of PMKSY in his village changed things. The District and horticulture officials advised him to adopt the drip irrigation system. “I switched over to the high-density plantation of apple and planted 600 plants of superior quality apples in one hectare of my land. The district officials also helped me to install a drip irrigation system which ensured 100% survival of plants because I could water my orchard during the stress period and also during flowering, fruit setting, fruit development and the peak period of May and June,” he says.

More importantly, Yaman Chand was able to cut down on the labour cost and save water at the same time. His newly-planted apple orchard is likely to bear fruits after 3-4 years compared to the traditional method which takes 6-7 years. And his income is estimated to double compared to the conventional method. Mention PMKSY, he looks at his apple trees and smiles.


Changes in the hills


Dhalli is one of the most famous mandis in India. Located in the State Capital of Himachal Pradesh, Shimla, trading here began in 1994 with sixteen shops cum offices. Though, it started slowly, today vegetable and fruit sellers throng the twelve sub yards creating a sometimes messy situation. With 49 commission agents/traders trading in peas, beans, cauliower, etc. and fruits like apricot, cherry, plum, etc. it is a lively place.


e-NAM was introduced here in April 2016 on a pilot basis. The farmers and traders, used to the outcry/open auction basis thought it as a newfangled idea and did not pay much attention. To educate farmers about the benefits of e-NAM, multiple camps were held in Dhalli mandi. In addition to this, meetings held in neighbouring towns and villages, newspaper articles in leading local newspapers and use of social media and Whatsapp helped in spreading awareness about the Scheme.

At the Mandi itself, changes were brought in like the Gate-in/Gate-out computerisation and an assaying lab ( to check quality parameters ). The e-Auction Hall and Office are fully computerised enabling traders to trade online.

Transparency is maintained by the big display screen in the yard, for farmers to see their lot auctioned, and online payments, thiis is not the end of the story. Seeing the new enthusiasm amongst the users, the plan of APMC Dhalli, Shimla, is to establish Air Conditioned Store and Processing Units.

APMC ‘s initiatives are to establish Vipnan Samooh in rural areas to collect and disseminate produce to remote markets and a site to build vermi compost pit in the market yard. A special emphasis is on women empowerment and increasing SC/ST farmer participation in the marketing activity. The result of all these efforts has been a better living standard for the farmers and the transparency and discipline in the workings of Dhalli mandi.



Identify and fill the need gap


Consistent and quality power is a scarcity in most of India; and Jorhat, Assam is no exception. Lack of electricity means that most houses and businesses are dependent on alternate sources of power like Generators.

Syeda Benazeer visited Indian Bank for some work with her husband. The banker was known to them and was exasperated with the frequent breakdown of the generator and the shoddy service levels of the operators. He was lamenting the absence of someone who can provide assured quality of service. This made Syeda ponder on the need gap that existed in the local market.

Being a meticulous person, she did a detailed market research to see if there was a need for a generator rental service. She realised that it was a virgin market for such a service and all she needed to focus on was to ensure quality service. She went to the bank, took a loan and started her ‘Generator hire’ business.

This was four years ago. Her focus, dedication and commitment to business convinced the bank that she was a prime candidate for Stand-Up India.


With a loan under the Stand-Up India Scheme, Syeda today has seven generators rented out to various banks and is planning to open a generator showroom in Jorhat town In her words, ‘Stand-Up India showed me the way to think big and expand’.



The young can come back


Seemingly calm and postcard picturesque, Pauri Garhwal, Uttarakhand, lying in the cradle of snow-bound Himalayan peaks amid dense forests is also prone to sudden natural calamities. This is a serious problem because more than 90% of the population depends on agriculture. For Vikas Rawat, 55, troubles were endless. Apart from natural calamities, his crops were also being destroyed by wild animals since his fields bordered the forest area. His three sons had left Pauri to look for work. This was the story in almost every farmer’s house in Pauri. The district was primarily facing a major problem of migration because farming was becoming unviable for the 87% of the population in rural areas depending directly or indirectly on agriculture. But now, things are beginning to look less bleak, thanks to the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).

It provides financial support to farmers suering crop loss/damage because of unforeseen events. Its mandate is also to encourage modern agricultural practices and to ensure a steady ow of credit to the agriculture sector with low premium.

Now, Rawat and others like him have something to fall back on when they lose their crops for no fault of theirs. The Yojana is also encouraging their children to take up agriculture and use modern methods of farming.



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