One Nation One Ration Card
What is a ration card?
- A ration card is issued to the head of the family, depending on the number of members in a family and the financial status of the applicant.
- It is used by households to get essential food grains at subsidised prices from designated ration shops (also called fair price shops) under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).
- The responsibility of identifying eligible families and issuing ration cards to them rests with the state/UT government.
- PDS was started in India in 1947 to distribute food items to the poor at subsidised rates. Later in 2013, it was revamped and strengthened with the enactment of the National Food Security Act, (NFSA) 2013.
- Under NFSA, the government is obliged to give subsidised food grains every month to the beneficiaries identified by each state government on the basis of the economic status of households.
- Implemented in all states and Union Territories, PDS is currently covering about 81.35 crore persons identified by each state government via more than 5 Lakh ration shops across the country, as per the estimates of the Department of Food and Public Distribution.
What is the one ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ system?
- In the present system, a ration cardholder can buy food grains only from an FPS that has been assigned to her in the locality in which she lives.
- If a beneficiary were to shift to another state, he/she would need to apply for a new ration card in the second state.
- However, the migration of the poor from rural areas to urban locations is more commonplace.
- Thus, geographical location being one of the hindrances that migrant workers face in order to claim their quota of grains and subsequently get denied their right to food.
- To address the state of food security in the country and combat the problem of hunger, the government has started the ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ facility.
How will the system of ration card portability work?
- Ration card portability is aimed at providing intra-state as well as inter-state portability of ration cards.
- The new system, based on a technological solution, will identify a beneficiary through biometric authentication on electronic Point of Sale (ePoS) devices installed at the FPSs, and enable that person to purchase the quantity of foodgrains to which she is entitled under the NFSA.
- While the Integrated Management of Public Distribution System (IM-PDS) portal (http://www.impds.nic.in/) provides the technological platform for the inter-state portability of ration cards, enabling a migrant worker to buy foodgrains from any FPS across the country, the other portal (annavitran.nic.in) hosts the data of distribution of foodgrains through E-PoS devices within a state.
- Once the ‘one nation one ration card’ system takes effect in a given state, the beneficiary family can purchase food grains from different locations. For example, a migrant worker staying in a different state can buy his or her share of the subsidized food grains from any FPS in the state where they work while the remaining family members will be able to buy their quota of the supplies back at home.
Since when has the One Nation, One Ration Card System been in the works?
- Work on this ambitious project started about two years back when the government launched a scheme called Integrated Management of Public Distribution System (IM-PDS) in April 2018 to reform the public distribution system in the country.
- The PDS system was marred with inefficiency leading to leakages in the system. To plug the leakages and make the system better, the government started the reform process.
- For this purpose, it used a technological solution involving the use of Aadhaar to identify beneficiaries. Under the scheme, the seeding of ration cards with Aadhaar is being done.
- Simultaneously, PoS machines are being installed at all FPSs across the country. Once 100 per cent of Aadhaar seeding and 100 per cent installation of PoS devices is achieved, the national portability of ration cards will become a reality.
Benefits of One Nation, One Ration Card
- The scheme has been launched keeping in mind the internal migration of our country, since people keep moving to different states in search of better job opportunities and higher standards of living.
- As per Census 2011, 4.1 crore people were inter-state migrants and 1.4 crore people migrated (inter and intra-state) for employment.
Why in News?
The Tamil Nadu government is set to launch the ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ scheme of the Centre on Thursday, October 1. The scheme will allow ration cardholders to receive their monthly entitlements from any public distribution system (PDS) shop in the State.
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