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Need of Time one nation one ration card in India An Impact of COVID 19

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:

  1. 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 per month.
  2. Antyodaya (AAY): ration cards are issued to “poorest of poor” households. Each AAY household is entitled to 35 kilograms of food grain per month.

Before the NFSA was enacted, there were three types of ration cards:

  1. Above Poverty Line (APL): ration cards that were issued to households living above the poverty line (as estimated by the Planning Commission). These households received 15 kilogram of food grain (based on availability).
  2. 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.
  3. Antyodaya (AAY) ration cards that were issued to “poorest of poor” households. These households received 35 kilograms of food grain.

Problems Of Illegal Ration Cards

Many problems with the PDS ration system exist. There are millions of ineligible and fraudulent ration cards at the same time; millions of poor families have no ration card. PDS shop owners in collusion with government officials divert the subsidized food supply and petroleum to the black market. Card numbers are inflated by those held under false or duplicate names, in the names of dead people, or by real but ineligible people. The Government of India is taking steps to prevent corruption, leakage and diversion of PDS rations.

Aadhaar-enabled beneficiary

The bank accounts and ration cards of eligible beneficiaries are linked to their Aadhaar numbers. A bank account can be enabled as AeBA by seeding (linking) it with an Aadhaar number. Seeding makes mapping information stored on the NPCI payment gateway that facilitates the subsidy payment. Seeding helps identify genuine and eligible beneficiaries and prevents duplicate and non-existent persons from registering.

Users can link a bank account as self-service option through ATM kiosks, the Internet, bank websites, telephone, or by providing a copy of the Aadhaar letter to a bank. Prior to Aadhaar, the issues plaguing and derailing social security programs in India were caused by corrupt officials and middlemen manipulating paper records and stand-alone databases of social security services. Due to lack of a unique identifier like Aadhaar, stand-alone databases cannot detect and eliminate duplicate or fraudulent beneficiaries.

The most common modus operandi adopted to inflate the beneficiary list is by inserting duplicate entries, non-existent names, and the names of dead and non-eligible people. Attempts are then made to steal the social security benefits money, depriving genuine claimants.

Aadhaar-enabled DBT

Aadhaar-enabled service delivery (AeSD) prevents corruption in retail by directly crediting benefit money into the beneficiary's bank account; this is called Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT). It eliminates middlemen and fraudulent, ineligible beneficiaries. In this way, Aadhaar saves billions of rupees of public money annually and enables poor people access to social security benefits.

Aadhaar-enabled eligibility check

Applicant eligibility is checked by comparing the service delivery database with other databases. Ration card eligibility is cross-checked with other related, Aadhaar-linked databases. This approach is designed to improve the audit trail, add efficiency and prevent corruption. It results in direct benefit access for eligible people and annually saves billions of rupees from corruption. Tangible benefits became visible from 2014; a report by UBS published in January 2014 showed Aadhaar DBT can save 1.2% of GDP. The finance minister informed the Parliament during Vote on Account that as of 31 January 2014, under DBT ₹33 billion for 21 million LPG subsidy and ₹6.28 billion (628 crores) have been transferred for various social programs in 5.4 million transactions.

e-Ration Card Services

With the help of e-Ration service, applicants can obtain ration cards and check their costs and food grain availability online. This will help end the corrupt practice of holding back rations and ensure cards reach the needy. Aadhaar card holders can apply for e-ration cards. The Department of Food Supplies and Consumer Affairs website provides eligibility details for the food security plan. This service was first introduced in Delhi. Later this has been followed by the state Govt of Tamil Nadu. The Central Government of India welfare expenditures are a substantial portion of the official budget, and state and local governments play roles in developing and implementing welfare policies.

The Directive Principles of State Policy, enshrined in Part IV of the Indian Constitution reflects that India is a welfare state. Seats are reserved for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in government jobs, educational institutions, Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha. The government has passed laws for the abolition of untouchability, Begar and Zamindari. The government has opened Fair Price Shops, where essential commodities are sold at reasonable prices to the poorer sections of the society.

In 2000, the union government's expenditure on social services (includes education, health, family welfare, women and child development, and social justice and empowerment), rural development, and basic minimum services was approximately US$7.7 billion (Rs361.7 billion), which was 11.1 percent of total government expenditures and 1.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

The union and state governments maintain reserved seats in political and education institutions for lower castes, indigenous persons, and others based on their percentage of the population. Development programs have been produced often at state or local levels for social development and the empowerment of women and lower castes.

No doubt art 14 provide equal opportunity to all...in different aspects but this things cannot change the ground level reality regarding the rich and poor ...there has been an ancestral differentiation. A line of demarkation on the basis of wealth and access to different things.. poor has remained in the downstream and somehow managed to upgrade his status with time , either by his own hard work, luck or by facilitation provided by govt. for their upliftment and Rich has always remained in the upper creamy layer.

Regardless of no matter how much time has changed but hardly instances of a rich person turning into poor are heard. Constitution provides us many provision and privileges but they are simply not enjoyed by all in the same manner. Say for example the criteria for deciding rich or poor is our ration card nomination - the BPL but how many actually deserving BPL people get access to their BPL card, even majority of 60 percent get but still 40 percent is left with no BPL cards.

Problem lies in their illiteracy and even they are hopeless in this. Many workers are allotted for helping these kinds of unaware people with no knowledge means and source to approach govt. offices to enroll them...but even they enjoyed their free pay. They don't work honestly and sincerely. Also the departments are flooded with corrupt people. Even if a poor person somehow manages to approach to government office. He is made to visit again and again, lingered on by refusing the verification of documents, even at final stage of clearance of their documentation, money is demanded by them.

Government has just laid a sentence which grants equal opportunities to all...under the constitution, but its actual exercise and implementation is only visible in cities. With educated people, but those who actually deserve such help and provisions of betterment, they are still left to rotten in their poor economic state.

Only nominal policies are made for helping poor, its access is not granted to all. In present situation of covid 19, proper distribution of ration is main agenda for government but because of out dated ration card schemes problems faced by government.

NGOs are doing ground level help to poor and needy, they are making use of money, rest where is the utilization seen.

Problems Arises After COVID 19

The ration providing system is a complete flop. Firstly ration does not come on timely intervals, secondly even when ration is available at depots, most of it goes black by the supplier, thirdly the long quess of people waiting to fetch ration is not provide, as the supply of ration always shortens. The quality of ration is also not as per the good standards of consumption for people ,but people instead of dying empty stomach, go for having that ration also and be satisfied with that.

Firstly census is used for verification of people, while applying for ration card...many people have died, and people still continue to take their ration, and many members of family have been born in last 10 years and their names are deprived of being added in the list. On going for list renewal, days and days goes on but work in progress can't be seen.

Suggestion
The problem of dead people and new borns of family under ration card, really need the correction by creating ration card for each and every person instead of whole families. This will lead to correct assessment of intake of ration by each person and would lead to clarity in the ration records.

Also in this way ration card of dead and new borns can also be managed properly. Also at places where details of one person or mistake in details of one person in family severally affect the details of rest all other. By Introduction of this system, only individual details will matter and will be wholly responsible for creation or discarding of ration card.

Reference:
  1. Anubhuti Vishnoi, PMO weighs food for all, may do away with need for ration card, IDs Centre may do away with the requirement of ration card or ID to ensure food for all. Available at https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/policy/pmo-weighs-food-for-all-may-doawaywithneedforrationcardids/articleshow/75112950.cms?from=mdr.
  2. Vatsala Gaur, COVID-19: UP distributes foodgrains to 1.95 crore ration card holders; sets up 527 community kitchens. In a bid to prevent people from coming out, the state has built a robust delivery system for delivery of milk, vegetables and grocery following which more than 10 lakh litres of milk have been delivered up till now. Available at https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/covid-19-up-distributes-foodgrains-to-1-95-crore-ration-card-holders-sets-up-527-community-kitchens/articleshow/74867725.cms?from=mdr.
  3. Ration Card (India). Available At https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ration_card_(India).
  4. Akshaya Nath, Fight against coronavirus: Tamil Nadu announces Rs 1000 financial aid, free rice, sugar for ration card holders. Available At https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/fight-against-coronavirus-tamil-nadu-announces-rs-1000-financial-aid-free-rice-sugar-for-ration-card-holders-1658988-2020-03-24.
Written By:
  1. Mohd Aqib Aslam
  2. Earika Chib, Student of Law, 10th semester B.A.llb, Dogra Law College, Jammu University. 

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