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How Indian Government’s Main Bhi Digital 3.0 campaign will benefit street vendors?

How Indian Government’s Main Bhi Digital 3.0 campaign will benefit street vendors?

Relevance:

  • GS 2 || Governance & Social Justice || Vulnerable Sections || Unorganized Sector Workers

Why in news?

Main Bhi Digital 3.0 campaign will benefit street vendors

Present context:

Under the PM SVANidhi (Prime Minister Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbharNidhi) Scheme, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) recently launched the ‘Main Bhi Digital 3.0’ Campaign.

About:

  • It’s a specific Digital Onboarding and Training (DOaT) Campaign for Street Vendors (SVs).
  • It aims to digitally onboard SVs who have already received loans through the PM SVANidhi Scheme.
  • Lending Institutions (LIs) have been required to issue a long-lasting QR code and UPI ID at the moment of disbursement, as well as train recipients on how to perform digital transactions.
  • For the Scheme’s implementation, an integrated IT platform was created. Through the PM SVANidhi Portal, SVs can apply for loans immediately.

Street vendor:

  • Street vendors are business people, or more accurately, self-employed individuals, who sell their items in the open air rather than in a closed shop or store.
  • Street vendors typically sell their items from stands, pushcarts, baskets, or tarpaulin sheets spread out on the road or sidewalk. They can be either stationary or mobile, depending on whether they stay in one location throughout the day or move from one location to another according to the time of day.
  • Hawking and street selling were the sole ways to sell products and services in the marketplace throughout India’s history. The current concept of selling goods and services in closed shops and stores did not exist until after the British arrived in India. In India, street sellers are mostly found in urban areas.
  • According to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, India has 10 million street vendors, with 250,000 in Mumbai, 200,000 in Delhi, 150,000 in Kolkata, and 100,000 in Ahmedabad.

Role of street vendor:

  • Economic activity: Vendors on the street contribute directly to general economic activity as well as the provision of goods and services.
  • Entrepreneurial activities: Citizens have the right to choose their occupations and engage in entrepreneurial activities under the law.
  • Tax revenue: Street vending is a real or potential source of tax revenue for the government.
  • Family business: Vending on the street is a test bed for entrepreneurship, family business, and social engagement.
  • People who can’t afford to acquire or rent a permanent location can start a street selling business.
  • Goods and services: Street vendors considerably broaden the number of places and times where goods and services can be given, and they occasionally supply things and services that are not available in off-street areas.
  • Potential mobility: Street vending is a particularly effective technique to cater for seasonal, intermittent, and unusual demands because of its minimal capital requirements and potential mobility.
  • Street vending is a remarkable example of self-help  and grass-roots initiative.

Problem associated with street vendors:

  • Traffic congestion: The city’s street sellers are not evenly distributed. They concentrate their efforts in a few key areas, which are usually the areas with the most pedestrian and vehicular traffic congestion.
  • Traffic accidents: Street vendors may cause traffic accidents, increase levels of vehicle-generated air pollution, and obstruct the movement of police, fire, ambulance, and other emergency vehicles by contributing to vehicular and pedestrian congestion.
  • Street vending lowers the number of routes available to motor vehicles, obstructs door-to-door deliveries and collections, and may make emergency vehicles difficult to access.
  • In the event of a catastrophic fire, explosion, hazardous gas release, or public hysteria, street vendors may obstruct egress routes from crowded structures such as theatres, stadiums, and department stores, exacerbating the tragedy.
  • Off-street enterprises can and frequently do “forestall” street vendors, drawing potential buyers as they move into a concentration of on- and off-street business activity.
  • Street sellers frequently fail to provide receipts, manage accounts, pay taxes on their earnings, or charge sales or value added taxes to their consumers.
  • Street sellers have a greater possibility to defraud their clients and elude official oversight than vendors in established retail outlets since they can leave or transfer their enterprises more quickly.
  • Quality of food: Food and drink vendors on the street are a major source of public health concerns. Street sellers are likely to be less professional, devoted, and responsible than vendors that work off the street. A large number of youngsters frequently work as street sellers.
  • Influenced towards criminal activities: A tiny number of street vendors engage in highly shady and often criminal activities such as ticket touting, pimping, prostitution, and drugs distribution.
  • Unauthorized financial transactions: Not just through their sales, but also by the bribes they are frequently obliged to pay to police and municipal inspectors, street vendors contribute to the underground economy of unauthorised financial transactions.
  • Pickpocketing, snatch thefts, and armed assaults are all possible because of the activity and congestion that street sellers create.
  • The solicitations of street sellers anger, annoy, and even intimidate some pedestrians and vehicles
  • Waste on the streets: Street vendors are frequently regarded as unattractive, as their announcements can make a lot of noise, and they and their customers frequently leave waste on the streets.

Street vendor needs government attention:

  • In India, there are approximately 10 million street sellers, according to data. They sell almost any sensible commodity or service, including food, clothing, sunglasses, and newspapers or magazines.
  • Migrants from rural areas who lack the skills to work in the official sector or who have been laid off are common street vendors. They offer low-cost, convenient services to the general public in towns and cities.
  • In a situation like lockdown, street vendors need financial securities.
  • However, in most places, such as Mumbai, where the licence cap is set at 14,000, more vendors sell their wares illegally, making them vulnerable to bribery and extortion by local police and municipal authorities, as well as harassment, large penalties, and abrupt evictions. The occupation was a cognizable and non-bailable offence in Kolkata.

All about PM SVANidhi (Prime Minister Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbharNidhi) Scheme:

About the scheme:

  • It was announced as part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’s Economic Stimulus-II.
  • With a sanctioned budget of Rs. 700 crore, it has been in place since June 1, 2020, to provide cheap working capital loans to street vendors to help them continue their livelihoods that have been negatively impacted by Covid-19 lockdowns.

Aim of the scheme:

  • Street sellers in metropolitan: To assist over 50 lakh street sellers in metropolitan regions, including those from surrounding peri-urban/rural areas, who were vending on or before March 24, 2020.
  • To encourage digital transactions by offering cash-back incentives of up to Rs. 1,200 per year.
  • As of January 31, 2021, the PM SVANidhi scheme had disbursed loans of Rs 1,363.88 crores to 13.82 lakh beneficiaries.

Features of the scheme:

  • Vendors can take out a working capital loan of up to Rs 10,000, which they can return in monthly payments over a one-year period.
  • On a quarterly basis, an interest subsidy of 7% per year will be credited to beneficiaries’ bank accounts via Direct Benefit Transfer if the loan is repaid on time or early.
  • There will be no penalty for repaying the loan early. Vendors might benefit from a higher credit limit if they repay the loan on time or early.

Challenges associated with the scheme:

  • Several banks are looking for stamp applications worth between Rs. 100 and Rs. 500.
  • There have also been reports of banks requesting PAN cards and even examining applicants’ CIBIL or credit scores, as well as state governments requesting voter ID cards, which many migrant vendors do not have.
  • The CIBIL score assesses a person’s credit history and determines their loan eligibility.
  • There have also been allegations of police and municipal authorities harassing people.

Other Initiatives for Street Vendors

  • Pradhan Mantri Suraksha BimaYojana.
  • Pradhan MantriJeevanJyotiBimaYojana.
  • Jan-DhanYojana.
  • Building and Other Construction Workers Act 1996.
  • Pradhan MantriMatruVandanaYojana.
  • Pradhan MantriShram Yogi MaandhanYojana.

Way forward:

  • PM SVANidhi should be kept in place indefinitely: It has to be redesigned as a long-term development programme for “ultra-micro industries” (street vendors). They’d be able to get credit on an ongoing basis as a result of this.
  • Section 19 of the PM SVANidhi scheme guidelines (creating central, state, and local monitoring committees to assess progress) should be amended to include participation from vendor unions. They were involved in the scheme’s inception and should be included in its execution as well.
  • TheStreet Vendors Act should be followed by local governments: The Street Sellers Act of 2014 calls for the establishment of TVCs (Town Vending Committees) in various districts to ensure that all street vendors identified by the government be accommodated in vending zones that follow certain guidelines.
  • The scheme, as well as related procedures such as establishing vending zones, developing state rules, schemes, and bye-laws, must be dealt with in the context of this Act to avoid widespread evictions and harassment of sellers.

Conclusion:

Despite the existence of many schemes for street vendors, there are different gaps in their implementation, identification, awareness, and accessibility that should be addressed as soon as possible. They should be provided with benefits such as maternity allowances, accident relief, natural death compensation, education support for children pursuing higher education, and a pension in the event of a crisis.

Mains oriented question:

How Main Bhi Digital 3.0 campaign is going to benefit street vendor of India? Write about thePM SVANidhi scheme and challenges associated with it. (200 words)