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One Nation One Ration Card – Access to Food Grains Anywhere

IBEF, Knowledge Centre

Mar 12, 2021 18:31

 

Background

Under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013, about 81 crore people are entitled to purchase subsidised food grains (rice at Rs. 3/kg, wheat at Rs. 2/kg and coarse grains at Rs. 1/kg) from their designated Fair Price Shops (FPS) of the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS). Currently, 23 crore ration cards have been issued to 81 crore beneficiaries of the NFSA in all states and union territories.

Ration cards are issued by state governments, indicating that beneficiaries could only purchase food grains from designated FPS in a state. If a beneficiary is required to relocate to another state, he/she will need to apply for a new ration card in the second state. The new scheme—One Nation One Ration Card—tries to address this problem and facilitate an easier procurement process for beneficiaries.

Objective

The objective of ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ scheme is to allow national portability of food security benefits under the NFSA and ensure all eligible beneficiaries get subsidised food grains from any Public Distribution System (PDS) shop across the country using the same ration card.

Highlights

The scheme will bring the following changes:

  • Reforms in the Public Distribution System (PDS)
  • Easy access of food grains to each beneficiary
  • Integrate all states and union territories into the scheme by March 2021

 

Revamping the Public Distribution System

Integrated Management of Public Distribution System (IM-PDS):

In April 2018, the Department of Food & Public Distribution launched the Integrated Management of Public Distribution System (IM-PDS) scheme with the key objectives of integrating existing PDS systems/portals of States/UTs with the central systems/portals, implementing country-wide portability of ration cards and eliminating duplication of beneficiary data at a country level.

Aadhar-based identification of beneficiaries:

The beneficiaries of this PDS system will be identified on the basis of their Aadhaar identification through the PoS device. All PDS shops will have the facility of electronic PoS device. A state that has 100% PoS machines in PDS shops will be included in the 'One Nation One Ration Card' scheme.

 

 

Benefits of the One Nation One Ration Card

Interoperability of ration cards:

Beneficiaries will be able to purchase subsidised food grains in any part of the country if their ration cards are linked to the Aadhaar number.

Empowering all migrant beneficiaries:

The scheme has been launched keeping in mind the country’s internal migration, as people continue to move to different states in search of job opportunities and better standards of living. As per the 2011 census, the total number of internal migrants in India is 45.36 crore (~37% of the population). Ashwajit Singh, Managing Director of IPE Global Pvt. Ltd., in an interview with Business Today (in August 2020) said, “One of the key challenges faced by migrant workers in cities at the beginning of the lockdown was lack of food security and access to food grains. The One Nation One Ration Card system will certainly help get our labour force back into the cities”.

Reducing discrimination:

The scheme will give beneficiaries the option of choosing the concession holder of their choice. If any dealer misbehaves or misallocates, the beneficiary can instantly switch to another FPS shop.

The scheme will reduce the practice of black marketing at PDS shops. Currently, the PDS shop owner sells these food grains in the market in the absence of actual beneficiaries.

Achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG):

This will help achieve the target of ending hunger by 2030. Also, it will address the poor. In the 2020 Global Hunger Index (GHI), India ranked 94 out of the 107 countries with sufficient data to calculate the 2020 GHI scores. On a GHI severity scale, India has a level of hunger that is serious (at a score of 27.2).

 

The Progress So Far…

Nirmala Sitharaman, Finance Minister, in the FY21 budget speech, said, “We have launched the One Nation One Ration Card scheme through which beneficiaries can claim their rations anywhere in the country. Migrant workers, particularly, benefit from this scheme. Those staying away from their families can partially claim their rations where they are stationed, while their family in their native places can claim the rest. I am happy to inform you that the ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ plan is being implemented by 32 states and UTs, reaching about 69 crore beneficiaries—a total of 86% beneficiaries covered. The remaining 4 states and UTs will be integrated in the next few months”.

100% ration card holders will be covered in the 'One Nation One Ration Card' scheme by March 2021.

13 states completed reforms in PDS and implemented the ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ system

According to the Ministry of Finance press release, on February 13, 2021, 13 States—Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab—have completed the ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ reform.

Enhanced limit of borrowing for FY21 under the Atma Nirbhar Bharat programme

Considering the resources required to deal with multiple challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of India, on May 17, 2020, granted the states an additional borrowing limit of up to 2% of the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) in FY21, which was equivalent to Rs. 4.3 crore (US$ 0.5 million). 1% of the GSDP was linked to implementation of four specific state-level reforms identified by the Department of Expenditure: a) Implementation of ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ system; b) Ease of doing business reform; c) Urban local body/utility reforms; and d) Power sector reforms.

The Ministry of Finance press release, on December 09, 2021, stated, ‘Out of the additional borrowing limit of 2% of the GSDP, 0.25% is linked to implementation of the ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ system. This was aimed to ensure that beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and other welfare schemes, especially migrant workers and their families, get ration from any Fair Price Shop (FPS) across the country. Other aims of the intended reform were to better target beneficiaries, eliminate bogus/duplicate/ineligible ration cards and thus, enhance welfare and reduce leakage. For this, the reform conditions stipulated Aadhaar seeding all ration cards, biometric authentication of beneficiaries and automation of all Fair Price Shops (FPS) in the state’.

13 states are granted additional borrowing permission of Rs. 34,956 crore (US$ 4.8 billion) by the Department of Expenditure for implementation of the ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ reform.

Amount of additional borrowing permitted – by state

S. No.

State

Amount (Rs. crore)

Amount (US$ million)

  1.  

Andhra Pradesh

2,525

347

  1.  

Goa

223

30

  1.  

Gujarat

4,352

598

  1.  

Haryana

2,146

295

  1.  

Karnataka

4,509

620

  1.  

Kerala

2,261

311

  1.  

Madhya Pradesh

2,373

326

  1.  

Punjab

1,516

208

  1.  

Rajasthan

2,731

375

  1.  

Tamil Nadu

4,813

662

  1.  

Telangana

2,508

345

  1.  

Tripura

148

20

  1.  

Uttar Pradesh

4,851

667

 

Conclusion

The poor and vulnerable (who are more mobile today) are in search of better means of subsistence, wages and opportunities beyond their native villages, and require better access to social assistance laws to avail their entitlements. ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ scheme will ensure food security of the migrant family. Monitoring the entire value chain of the scheme, mainly availability and operations of the PoS systems in PDS stores must be undertaken to control compromises in entitlements.
 

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