RSTV: POLICY WATCH- ONE NATION ONE RATION CARD
‘One Nation One Ration Card’ scheme, which will allow portability of food security benefits, will be available across the country. This means poor migrant workers will be able to buy subsidised rice and wheat from any ration shop in the country. Currently Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Telangana and Tripura are 10 states where 100% point of sale (POS) machine have been arranged and all PDS shops have been connected to the internet.
Ration cards are an official document issued by state governments in India to households that are eligible to purchase subsidized food grain from the Public Distribution System (under the National Food Security Act). They also serve as a common form of identification for many Indians.
Under the National Food Security Act, all state governments in India have to identify households that are eligible for purchasing subsidized food grain from the Public Distribution System and provide them with ration cards. There are two types of ration cards under NFSA:
- Priority ration card – priority ration cards are issued to households that meet the eligibility criteria set by their state government. Each priority household is entitled to 5 kilograms of food grain per member.
- Antyodaya (AAY) ration cards are issued to “poorest of poor” households. Each AAY household is entitled to 35 kilograms of food grain.
Before the NFSA was enacted, there were three types of ration cards:
- Above Poverty Line (APL) ration cards that were issued to households living above the poverty line Planning Commission. These households received 15 kilogram of food grain (based on availability).
- Below Poverty Line (BPL) ration cards that were issued to households living below the poverty line. These households received 25-35 kilograms of food grain.
- Antyodaya (AAY) ration cards that were issued to “poorest of poor” households. These households received 35 kilograms of food grain
National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013:
As passed by the Parliament, Government has notified the National Food Security Act, 2013 on 10th September, 2013.
The objective is to provide for food and nutritional security in human life cycle approach, by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people to live a life with dignity.
- The Act provides for coverage of upto 75% of the rural population and upto 50% of the urban population for receiving subsidized foodgrains under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), thus covering about two-thirds of the population.
- The eligible persons will be entitled to receive 5 Kgs of foodgrains per person per month at subsidised prices of Rs. 3/2/1 per Kg for rice/wheat/coarse grains.
- The existing Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) households, which constitute the poorest of the poor, will continue to receive 35 Kgs of foodgrains per household per month.
- The Act also has a special focus on the nutritional support to women and children. Besides meal to pregnant women and lactating mothers during pregnancy and six months after the child birth, such women will also be entitled to receive maternity benefit of not less than Rs. 6,000.
- Children upto 14 years of age will be entitled to nutritious meals as per the prescribed nutritional standards.
- In case of non-supply of entitled foodgrains or meals, the beneficiaries will receive food security allowance.
- The Act also contains provisions for setting up of grievance redressal mechanism at the District and State levels.
- Separate provisions have also been made in the Act for ensuring transparency and accountability.
Why ensure food security?
The basic concept of food security globally is to ensure that all people, at all times, should get access to the basic food for their active and healthy life and is characterized by availability, access, utilization and stability of food. Though the Indian Constitution does not have any explicit provision regarding right to food, the fundamental right to life enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution may be interpreted to include right to live with human dignity, which may include the right to food and other basic necessities.
One Nation One Ration Card
- The scheme will ensure all beneficiaries especially migrants can access PDS across the nation from any PDS shop of their own choice.
- Inter state portability of ration card.
- No poor person is deprived of getting subsidised foodgrains under the food security scheme when they shift from one place to another. It also aims to remove the chance of anyone holding more than one ration card to avail benefits from different states.
- Important for migrant workers.
- Add to the nutrition value to the poor consumers.
- Add to integration of the country.
- This will provide freedom to the beneficiaries as they will not be tied to any one PDS shop and reduce their dependence on shop owners and curtail instances of corruption.
- Linking with Aadhaar removes possibility of corruption.
- No additional cost actually because the scheme goes on the entitlements that are mandated in the National Food Security Act.
- Prone to corruption: Every state has its own rules for Public Distribution System (PDS). If ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ is implemented, it will further boost corruption in an already corrupted Public Distribution System. The explanation given to this is that with the help of technology govt is de-duplicating the ration cards.
- The scheme will increase the woes of the common man and, the middlemen and corrupt PDS shop owners will exploit them.
- Tamil Nadu has opposed the proposal of the Centre, saying it would result in undesirable consequences and is against federalism.
- Within some states issue of intra state portability.
- Different states have different rates and this mismatching rates will be a big challenge.
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