How Aadhaar and Digitisation Compounded Problems of Corruption, Leakages and Exclusion Plaguing the PDS in Jharkhand

01 August 2017
The distribution of food grains in Jharkhand continued to be plagued by issues such as the power equation between village residents and the FPS dealers; the caste and gender prejudices in the villages; and the lack of awareness among villagers about the NFSA and their rights under the law.
Manish Swarup/AP Photo
The distribution of food grains in Jharkhand continued to be plagued by issues such as the power equation between village residents and the FPS dealers; the caste and gender prejudices in the villages; and the lack of awareness among villagers about the NFSA and their rights under the law.
Manish Swarup/AP Photo

On 21 July, during the parliament’s monsoon session, CR Chaudhary, the minister of state for consumer affairs, food and public distribution, stated in the Rajya Sabha that the government has issued around 231 million rations cards covering almost 80 crore beneficiaries to food subsidies under the National Food Security Act of 2013. The NFSA aims to make food a legal entitlement in India by providing monthly subsidised food grains to at least 75 percent of the country’s rural population and 50 percent of its urban population.

Under the NFSA, food grains are distributed through the targeted public distribution system (TDPS). The TPDS is an order issued in 2015 by the central government for the implementation of the NFSA. It directs state governments to ensure the distribution of subsidised food grains through fair-price shops, or FPS—the lowest unit in the supply chain under the distribution system—for which the state government grants licenses to local corporations such as self help group  that set up the shops.

As a part of the twelfth five-year plan, the central government’s department of food and public distribution initiated a project termed the End-to-end Computerization of TPDS Operations. During this year’s budget session, Ram Vilas Paswan, the minister for food and public distribution, told the Lok Sabha that the central government had taken several steps for the implementation of this project. These included, Paswan said, the digitisation of ration cards, computerisation of supply chain management, setting up of a grievance redressal system, and Aadhaar seeding—the linking of Aadhaar numbers with the digitised ration cards in the central government’s database.

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    Sagar is a staff writer at The Caravan.

    Keywords: caste food security Jharkhand Public Distribution System digitisation Aadhaar ration card
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