One Nation, One Ration Card System

What’s in News In a major boost to National Food Security Scheme, the Government of India has launched one nation one ration card scheme and has given States and Union Territories a deadline of June 2020 for its rollout. Ration Cards 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. Types of Ration Cards There are two types of ration cards under the National Food Security act, 2013: •Priority Ration Card- issued based on eligibility criteria set by their respective state governments and entitled to 5kgs of food grains per member. •Antyodaya Ration Card- issued to the poorest of poor households entitled to 35 kgs of food grains. Objective of the Scheme The main objective of the scheme is to introduce nation-wide portability of ration card holders under National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA), to lift their entitlement food grains from any Fair Price Shop (FPS) in the country without the need to obtain a new ration card, by integrating the existing PDS systems/portals of States/UTs with the Central systems/portals, etc. Background The recommendation of the benefits of portability of the Public Distribution System was given by Partha Mukhopadhyay working group on migration in 2017. The government has first set the target to ensure that all the PDS shops are equipped with Point of Sales machine. Under the scheme, the beneficiaries will be eligible/able to buy subsidized food grains from a ration shop in any part of the country. Hence, the beneficiaries will not be tied to one PDS shop. Key Facts •The Aadhar linkage of the ration card is a must to be eligible for the benefits of the scheme. •The subsidies shall only be available on the schemes supported by the central government to a person. •A migrant will only be allowed to buy a maximum of 50% of the family quota so that a person after migrating does not buy the whole family quota in a go. •The government plans to use advanced data analytics techniques to bring about continuous improvements. •If any dealer misbehaves or misallocates, the beneficiary can switch to another FPS shop instantly. Importance •The scheme will add to the nutrition value to the poor and the integration of the country. •An integrated online system shall ensure no fake ration cardholder, hence check pilferage. •Control rising food subsidy bill. •As partial migration is a common phenomenon, the migrant member can pick up grains at his location while the family staying back in rural areas pick their share there. •It will be particularly beneficial for women and other disadvantaged groups, given how social identity (caste, class, and gender) and other contextual factors (including power relations) provide a strong backdrop in accessing PDS. Recent Developments The Centre kick-started inter-state portability of ration card between Telangana-Andhra Pradesh as well as Maharashtra-Gujarat. Seven states- Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Tripura at present are testing intra-portability of ration card, which means beneficiaries can lift their quota of ration from any PDS located within a state.

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