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.