A mammoth task
Kamla Rani, a 50-year-old housewife living in a run-down area of New Delhi, baulks at the idea of having heavily subsidised food benefits replaced by money deposited in a bank account.
"How can we believe the government will pay on time or increase the amount when prices go up every month?" she asked, sitting in the doorway of her modest home in Gulabi Bagh, a residential area in the north of the capital where many people live in slums.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched an ambitious plan to streamline a bloated and inefficient welfare system by paying for everything from cooking gas to university stipends via a bank account, in a bid to save billions of dollars a year.
To sell his idea, he has promised a bank account for every household - a mammoth and expensive task in a country where two in five people had lacked access to one.
But resistance among more than 800 million people entitled to subsidised food is high.
Years of double-digit inflation make them wary, the previous government's pilot schemes floundered and, with so many people unfamiliar with basic banking, benefits like accident insurance offered under the scheme may not be fully utilised.
Text: Manoj Kumar, Reuters
Image: Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the ambitious Jan Dhan Yojana on August 28.
Image courtesy: AP