Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday launched digital payment platform e-RUPI that the government said will ensure “targeted, transparent and leakage free” delivery of benefits.

“In the beginning, it will be applicable on health beneficiaries,” Modi said in an address. “People who want to take vaccines from private centres, by paying...if someone wants to help around 100 poor people with the vaccination, they can give e-RUPI voucher to them so the money is used only for that purpose.”

Modi said that more facilities related to healthcare and food donation would be added to the platform later. The e-RUPI payment system will be operational for the first time at a Covid-19 vaccination centre in Mumbai, according to NDTV.

The prime minister said that e-RUPI was a “symbol of how India is progressing by connecting people’s lives with technology”. Modi added that technology was bringing about transparency in transactions and creating new opportunities for the poor.

The payment system, developed by the National Payments Corporation of India, has brought in banks that will be the issuing entities, according to The Indian Express. Any entity, corporate or government, would have to approach private or public-sector banks with the details of specific individuals and the purpose of the payments.

The beneficiaries would be identified through their mobile number and a voucher that will be allocated by a bank to the service provider in the name of an individual.

The service can also be used for delivery of certain schemes meant for providing support under the Mother and Child welfare services, tuberculosis programmes, and other facilities. The government has also reportedly said that the private sector could use these digital vouchers under employee welfare and corporate social responsibility programmes.

“The world is watching how technology is bringing honesty in the country,” Modi claimed, according to NDTV. “We saw its importance during the lockdown. When big nations were worried how they will help the poor, India had a full system in place.”

However, during last year’s lockdown, migrant workers had experienced a money crunch and problems such as lack of food.

A 2020 survey of over 11,000 stranded migrant workers, done by the Stranded Workers Action Network, showed that half of them had stocks of ration that would only last less than a day. Out of these, 96% workers had not received rations from the government, and 70% had not received any cooked food. As many as 89% had not been paid by their employers at all during the lockdown, the report added.

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Covid-19 lockdown: 90% of migrant workers got no help from government or employers, shows survey