One Nation And One Ration Card Scheme
Post on 08,September 2019   3:00 PM
By - Miss. Vibha Yadav
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India runs the world’s largest foodsecurity programme under it's National Food Security Act(NFSA), distributing more than 600 lakh tonnes of subsidised food grain to more than 81 crore beneficiaries every year through a vast network of more than five lakh ration or fair price shops. However, until recently, this has been a location-linked benefit, leaving crores of migrant workers and families out of the food safety net. But now Under the scheme the beneficiaries can buy subsidized food grains from a ration shop in any part of the country. For this Ration Card of beneficiary must link with Aadhar.

Who will gain the most out of the scheme?
According to data from the Census 2011, there are more than 45 crore internal migrants in India, of whom more than half have not completed primary education, while 80% have not completed secondary education. Low level of education resulted in low income and make them beneficiary of NFSA. Most of the time it is short term migration and after some time they go back their original place. So get new ration card at their work location is difficult process subject of time and money. These migrants and also women who change location after marriage are the main beneficiary of this scheme.

Other Benefits
  • Allowing ration card portability will also curb corruption and improve access and service quality by removing monopolies.
  • If they are denied service or face corruption or poor quality in one shop, they are free to head to a different shop.
  • This scheme resulted in speed up the process of  digitize and integrate the food storage and public distribution system.

Requirements for efficient implementation
  • Need to create a proper repository of NFSA beneficiaries and ration cards, which will integrate the existing databases maintained by States, Union Territories and the Centre.
  • Proper linkage of ration cards with Aadhar.
  • All fair price shops are equipped with electronic point-of-sale machines (ePoS), replacing the old method of manual record-keeping of transactions with a digital real-time record. 
  • The Food Corporation of India’s Depot Online System is integrating all warehouses and godowns storing subsidised grain in an attempt to create a seamless flow of online information from procurement until distribution.

Challenges in smooth implementation
  • There are only 4.32 lakh ePoS machines which have been installed in more than 5.3 lakh fair price shops and in some rural and remote places ePoS connectivity is also one problem.
  • In Jharkhand, a State which was an early adopter of digitisation and Aadhaar-based biometric authentication in 2016, there have been widespread complaints of denial of food due to system failures. 
  • The challenge comes from the difference between ration benefits offered by the State in comparison to the Central entitlement and states made it clear that they will not going to offer same benefits to migrants under given scheme.
  • The biggest challenge may lie in the lack of any concrete data on inter-State migration trends, especially short-term migration. 

Way Ahead: This is good move undoubtedly. Government and administration should focus on very basic things like proper awareness drives regarding this scheme and about linking of Aadhar with ration cards, so the results of Jharkhand will not repeat at other places. State governments should cooperate with the centre and try not to discriminate between natives of state and migrants.   


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