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National Social Assistance Scheme

As the name indicates, the National Social Assistance Scheme aims to provide support for the ones who don’t have any support in the society like the widows, elderly and people who are differently abled.


The Indian Constitution’s Article 41 asks the respective State Governments to provide social assistance to people like the elderly, unemployed, widows, differently-abled and other sections that are considered as unwanted by the society. This assistance will be subject to certain economic developments. The historic evolution of this scheme and the various changes it underwent over the years is explained below:

  1. 1995 – NSAP scheme was launched in India to provide social/financial assistance to people who are classified as destitute or the ones who do not have income from their own source of income or from their immediate family members and other sources. Three sections of this scheme were devised during this time – NOAPS (National Old Age Pension Scheme), NFBS (National Family Benefit Scheme) and NMBS (National Maternity Benefit Scheme).
  2. 2000 – Annapurna Yojana was introduced during this time. Here, people who were not covered under the benefits of NOAPS were eligible to get 10kg of free rice.
  3. 2001 – National Maternity Benefit Scheme falls under the department of Family Welfare.
  4. 2006 – Beneficiaries of NOAPS get an increase in their monthly pension (increased to 200INR from 75INR).
  5. 2007 – NSAP aims to cover all individuals in the country who are living below poverty line. The existing policy of NOAPS gets a name change to Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS).
  6. 2009 – NSAP gets additional target group in the form of beneficiaries of Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS), which covers widows aged between 40 and 64 and beneficiaries of Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme (IGNDPS), which covers differently abled people between 18 and 64 years, below the poverty line.
  7. 2011 – IGNOAPS beneficiaries’ age limit reduced from 65 to 60 and monthly pension for beneficiaries aged above 80 years increased from 200INR to 500INR. Age limits for beneficiaries of IGNWPS and IGNDPS also changed to limits between 40 and 59 & 18 and 79 respectively.
  8. 2012 – IGNWPS and IGNDPS beneficiaries’ monthly pensions increased from 200INR to 300INR. Age limits for these modified to ranges between 40 and 79 & 18 and 79 respectively.
  9. 2013 – Task Force report on Comprehensive Social Assistance programme submitted to the Indian Government. Recommendations of the report include increase of pension and extending coverage options.


The NSAP has five main categories. They are:

Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS)

Eligibility – People aged above 60 years and those living below poverty line.

Amount – Those aged between 60 and 79 get 200INR monthly pension and those aged above 80 years get 500INR monthly pension.

Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS)

Eligibility – Widows aged 40 and above and living below poverty line.

Amount – All beneficiaries less than 80 years to get 300INR monthly pension and those aged above 80 to get 500INR monthly pension.

National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS)

Families, whose bread-winners or sole earning members have passéd away, will get a lump-sum financial assistance of 20000INR. The condition is that the bread winner should be aged between 18 and 60.

Annapurna Scheme

Senior citizens, who have not covered under the benefits of the IGNOAPS scheme, are covered under the Annapurna Scheme. Here, these beneficiaries get 10Kg free rice every month.