one-nation-one-ration-card

Implement One Nation, One Ration Card System The central government is all set to launch the One Nation One Ration Card Scheme in the whole country by 30th June 2020. The scheme will allow access to any Public Distribution System (PDS) shop across the country. After the implementation of the scheme, the beneficiaries would not be tied to a particular PDS shop. This means migrant workers who move from one state to another for better job opportunities would be the biggest beneficiaries as they will be able to buy the subsidized food grains from any PDS shop in the country. The scheme would reduce dependency on shop owners and curb corruption and ensure food security in the country. Haryana, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kerala, Rajasthan, and Tripura are the 10 Indian states where 100% of PoS (Point of Sale) machine are available and all the ration shops here are connected to the internet.

Why ensure food security?

Indian constitution doesn’t have any particular provision regarding the right to food but ARTICLE 21 of Constitution, the fundamental right to life can be interpreted which may include the right to food and other basic necessities. Food security means all people have availability, access, utilization of food all the time. Accordingly, Govt. enacted the National Food Security Act in 2013.

National Food Security Act, 2013 It was enacted by the parliament in 2013. The aim of the act is to provide food and nutritional security by ensuring access to quantitative and qualitative food at subsidized prices to the people.

Features of the Act:

  • The act will cover 75% and 50% of rural and urban population which is about 2/3rd of the total population for receiving subsidized foodgrains under Target Public Distribution System.
  • Beneficiaries are entitled to receive 5kg food grains per person per month at the subsidized price of Rice for Rs3/kg, wheat for Rs2/kg and coarse grains for Rs1/kg.
  • Under existing Antodaya Anna Yojana, the poorest of the poor household will continue to get 35kgs of food grains per month.
  • The act provides nutritional support to women and children which will help in malnutrition in the country.
  • The act not only provides a meal to pregnant women and lactating mothers during pregnancy and six months after the birth of the child but they will also be entitled to receive maternity benefit of not less than Rs. 6000
  • In case of non-supply of food grains, eligible households will receive food security allowance.
  • Setting up of grievance redressal mechanism at the District and State levels.
  • The acts also provide provision for ensuring transparency and accountability.

What is Ration Cards?

Ration card is a document issued by the state government to households who are eligible to purchase subsidized food grain from the PDS shop. The ration card is also used for identification. Under the National Food Security Act, there are two types of ration cards 'One Nation, One Ration':

  • Antodaya (AAY) - These ration cards are issued to “poorest of poor” households. Under AAY 35kg of food, grains are entitled to each household in the country.
  • Priority Ration Card- These ration cards are issued to the households who fulfill the criteria set by the state government. Under this card, each household is entitled to 5kg of food grain per member of the house.

 Features of One Nation One Ration Card Scheme:

  • The scheme will be implemented by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food, and Public Distribution.
  • Ensuring that all the PDS shops have an arrangement of PoS machines.
  • The scheme would be subsumed under the existing Integrated Management of PDS under which the beneficiaries can get access to their food grain share from any district.
  • IMPDS is already operational in Haryana, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kerala, Rajasthan and Tripura.
  • Entire PDS will be integrated into Depots Online System to ensure transparency in the working of the National Food Security Act.

Advantages/Importance of the Scheme:

  • Access of food grains at a subsidized price to poor persons in the country
  • It will benefit the migrants who shift from one place to another.
  • It will help in reducing malnutrition by providing nutritional value to poor consumers.
  • It also removes the chances of any person having more than one ration card.
  • Linking of ration card with Aadhar Card reduce corruption
  • Use of technology right from the procurement to the distribution of food grains will help in increasing efficiency and transparency in the system.

Challenges/Hurdles:

  • Lack of true statistics data on the mobility of poor households migrating to work from intra-state to inter-state.
  • The scheme is based on two important principles i.e. Aadhar and digitalization of ration cards and it may exclude either a person who migrates alone or migrates with the family or the family member who stays back to his/her native place.
  • The middleman and shop owners may exploit the common man and increase their problems.
  • Tamil Nadu has opposed the center’s scheme saying that it is against the principle of federalism.
  • Issue of intra-state portability in some states.
  • Different price rates of food grains in different states will be a big challenge to the government.

Conclusion: Introducing portability of food grains to ensure food security within all states and union territories will deliver most of the Centre’s intended benefits at much less complexity. However, there is a need to do a detailed analysis of extending this idea to the whole country addressing the concerns and challenges of the scheme. For Prelims: Read about the scheme, NFSA act. For mains: Implementation and Significance along with the challenges are important.