Together with a lockdown and an information campaign, India’s early response to the Covid-19 pandemic included the launch of PMGKY, a major social protection package. This built on previous digital investments including in direct benefit transfer to financial accounts as well as on several established programs. The paper reports on the implementation of PMGKY, based on a household survey conducted 4-6 weeks after the lockdown and launch of the program. PMGKY successfully delivered benefits to millions of households, including food rations. At the same time, in spite of the information campaign, people did not always realize that payments had been delivered into their accounts while some also faced logistical difficulties in reaching cash-out points because of the severe disruption related to the pandemic and the lockdown. These factors constrained the immediate realization of benefits. Performance was broadly uniform across different groups of recipients, with few systematic major differences in the receipt of benefits reported by gender, urban/rural location and category of ration card. The study also flags the importance of the increasing spread of smartphones across the population.
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