Calling it a "historic" day, PM Modi said that the scheme would "give wings to the aspirations of crores of hardworking farmers of India", adding that it demonstrated the NDA government's "unwavering commitment" to farmers' welfare.
The PM-KISAN scheme had been announced during the Budget
The PM-KISAN scheme, that seeks to provide Rs. 6,000 per year to 12 crore small and marginal farmers holding cultivable land up to two hectares, had been announced by interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal during the Budget earlier this month.
As per the scheme, the Rs. 6,000 annual payment is divided into three equal instalments of Rs. 2,000 each.
PM Modi transferred the first instalment during the launch
While launching the scheme, PM Modi transferred the first instalment of Rs. 2,000 to over one crore farmers, and assured that other farmers would also get the first instalment within a few weeks.
He further said that farmers from 21 states would benefit from the scheme, which is completely sponsored by the Central government.
He also interacted with farmers via video conferencing.
All farmers will get first instalment soon: PM Modi
"Today I had the privilege of transferring the first instalment of the scheme to the bank accounts of over one crore farmers. This is only the beginning. All those farmers who have not got the first instalment today will get it in a few weeks," said PM Modi.
He also spoke about other farmers' welfare initiatives
Further, PM Modi also spoke about other schemes by the NDA government to ensure farmers' welfare.
He said that the Center was spending Rs. 1 lakh crore on the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Irrigation Yojana, adding that 70 of the 99 projects selected under the scheme were nearing completion.
Further, PM Modi also spoke on minimum support price (MSP), soil cards, and National Agricultural Markets.
The Congress criticized the scheme, calling it "eyewash"
However, the Congress came down heavily on the NDA government, questioning the intention of the PM-KISAN scheme, and the timing of the launch ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
UP Congress spokesperson Ashok Singh termed the scheme as a mere "eyewash".
Earlier, Congress president Rahul Gandhi had called the scheme's Rs. 6,000 annual payout an "insult" to farmers.
Indeed, Rs. 6,000 per annum is a meagre payout
Indeed, Rs. 6,000 per annum - amounting to Rs. 16.44 per day - is a meagre payout.
According to an analysis by the Indian Express, farmers will not even be able to purchase fertiliser requirements for one acre of land with the Rs. 2,000 instalments.
The instalment amount is also not adequate for harvesting crops beyond one acre or for buying enough seeds.
How the PM-KISAN scheme compares with Telangana's Rythu Bandhu scheme
For perspective, the Telangana government has a similar, albeit more generous scheme - Rythu Bandhu.
The scheme provides Rs. 8,000 per acre income support to farmers, payable in two instalments, and does not have a ceiling on landholding.
Thus, a farmer with five acres of land, would be entitled to Rs. 40,000 - far more than the flat Rs. 6,000 offered by PM-KISAN.
Nine lakh beneficiaries of Rythu Bandhu yet to get money
That said, even the Rythu Bandhu scheme has fallen short of expectations. The scheme has a budget of Rs. 12,000cr for 2018-19 for 57 lakh beneficiaries. However, farmers' groups say that nine lakh beneficiaries are yet to receive any money from the Telangana government.