Why in the News?
- The Supreme Court recently asked the Centre to respond to allegations made in a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) that 3 crore ration cards have been cancelled in the country because of the insistence on Aadhaar linkage and biometric authentication, and that this has resulted in the denial of foodgrains to poor citizens, which in turn has caused starvation deaths.
- Poor Internet in remote areas was also flagged as an issue.
- A recent Survey had asked electors whether they had ever been denied food grains due to non-possession/production of an Aadhaar ID or because their Aadhaar biometric details didn’t match or on account of technical or server issues.
- On analysing it turned out that 28% or over one in four households had indeed experienced such a situation.
- While in percentage terms this may not seem all that high a figure to some, in absolute terms) it would be huge.
- Ever since Aadhaar-based biometric authentication was introduced in PDS, there have been numerous reports about people’s fingerprints not getting confirmed by the e-PoS device at the ration shop and also poor internet penetration.
Rural vs urban, the states
- Contrary to the notion that seeding and authentication problems are occurring mostly in remote areas, urban areas also face similar problems.
- In both rural and urban areas, the poorest were worst affected 39% of households with a monthly income below Rs 2,000 said they were at some point denied PDS ration due to Aadhaar problems.
- The most striking difference was noticed when the responses were disaggregated by a grouping of Hindi-speaking heartland states vis-à-vis the rest.
- In the Hindi belt- Bihar, Jharkhand, MP, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, UP and Uttarakhand, states once described as ‘Bimaru’ by some economists for their backwardness-as many as 40% of Ration card holding households reported a denial of ration due to Aadhaar issues, compared to 20% households in the rest of the country.
- The fact confirms that one-fourth households did at some point not get ration they were entitled to because of the Aadhaar compulsion is a serious matter.