This NSA scheme is sponsored by the central government of India. NSAP was launched on 15th August 1995. This scheme provides financial help to widows, elderly, and persons with disabilities in the form of social pensions.
The NSAP at its inception in 1995 had three components namely
- National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS,
- National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS) and
- National Maternity Benefit Scheme (NMBS): The National Maternity Benefit Scheme (NMBS) was subsequently transferred on 1st April 2001 from the Ministry of Rural Development to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
On 1st April 2000, a new Scheme known as Annapurna Scheme was launched. This scheme aimed at providing food security to meet the requirement of those senior citizens who, though eligible, have remained uncovered under the NOAPS.
In February 2009, two new Schemes are known as Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS) and Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme (IGNDPS) were introduced.
Presently NSAP comprises of five schemes, namely –
- Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS),
- Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS),
- Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme (IGNDPS),
- National Family Benefit Scheme NFBS) and
Many State Governments have either stopped using the BPL methodology for identifying eligible beneficiaries or launched state-level pension schemes to increase coverage of social pensions beyond those living below the poverty line.
States such as Delhi and Haryana have moved to near-universal coverage by adopting exclusion criteria (for example in Haryana, all residents above 59 years of age with an annual income from all sources less than ₹2 lakh are eligible for an old-age pension).
Other states have launched state pension schemes that cover individuals from non-BPL households who are not eligible for social pensions under NSAP. In Odisha, for instance, all elderly above 59 years of age and widows whose annual income from all sources is below ₹24,000 are eligible for the Madhu Babu Pension Scheme.
As the Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS) only covers widows aged 40–59, some State Governments have launched state widow pension schemes. In Chhattisgarh, the Sukhad Sahara Yojana provides a monthly pension to all widows aged 18–50. The Lakshmi Bai Pension Yojana. in Bihar covers all widow above 18 years of age whose annual family income is below ₹60,000
Similarly, the Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme (IGNDPS) only covers individuals with more than 80% disability. To address this gap in coverage, states like Bihar and Rajasthan. It has launched State Disability Pension schemes that cover individuals with more than 40% disability.
The National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) represents a significant step towards the fulfilment of the Directive Principles in Article 41 and 42 of the Constitution recognizing the concurrent responsibility of the Central and the State Governments in the matter. In particular, Article 41 of the Constitution of India directs the State to provide public assistance to its citizens in case of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement and in other cases of undeserved want within the limit of its economic capacity and development.