One Nation One Ration Card Scheme


  • On 1st May, 2020, the Central Government included Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Dadra and Nagar Haveli in ‘one nation, one ration card’ plan, taking the ration card portability to beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act in 17 states and UTs.
  • The move comes after the Supreme Court directed the Centre to consider whether it is feasible for it to implement the “one nation-one ration card” at this stage or not and take appropriate decision in this regard keeping in view the hardship caused by the lockdown.

12 States

  • The scheme was launched in January 2020 in 12 statesAndhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Kerala, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Telangana and Tripura.
  • The rest of the country will be included in the portability scheme by June, 2020.

Impact

  • With this, the facility of national/inter-State portability will be available for nearly 60 Crore NFSA beneficiaries of 17 States/UT and they may lift their entitled quota of foodgrains from any Fair Price Shop (FPS) of their choice, anywhere in these 17 States/UT by using their same/existing ration card under ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ plan.
  • This is likely to benefit the migrant workers who have not been able to reach their hometown and have been stuck in different states during this period of lockdown.

About One Nation One Ration Card Scheme

  • Launched in July, 2019, 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 foodgrains from any 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.

Key Points

  • Standard Format: Keeping in mind the various formats used by stats for the ration card, a standard format has been prepared for this purpose.
  • Bilingual Format: For national portability, the state governments have been asked to issue the ration card in bi-lingual format, wherein besides the local langauge, the other language could be Hindi or English.
  • Unique Member IDs: In the ration card being made, there will be a 10-digit standard ration card number, wherein the first two digits will be the state code, and the next two digits will be ration card numbers.
  • Besides this, a set of another two digits will be appended with the ration card number to create unique member IDs for each member of the household in a ration card.

Beneficiaries

  • Any legal citizen of India can apply for the ration card.
  • Children below 18 years of age (minors) are included under their parents’ ration card. However, a user can apply for a separate ration card once they are above 18 years of age.
  • All ration cardholders and are currently eligible to get entitled food grains from fair price shops.

Benefits

  • No poor person or under privileged will be deprived of getting subsidised foodgrains under the food security scheme when they shift from one place to another.
  • It also card aims to remove the chance of anyone holding more than one ration to avail benefits from different states.

Challenges

Design and Implementation Challenges

  • The scheme will mostly assist seasonal and circular migrant workers to have better access to PDS, both, at source and destination.
  • The first hurdles will be to have exact data on the mobility of poor households migrating to work, locating intra- and inter-state destinations and sectors employing the workers. Especially, when a few members of a family that owns a ration card migrates for few months, reconciling the data at both locations would be a critical challenge.
  • Secondly, the domicile-based legislation for accessing government schemes and social security needs serious rethinking before making ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ portable.
  • Thirdly, the scheme is based on two important guiding principles: Aadhar and digitalisation of ration cards. It is feared that both Aadhar and digital ration card may exclude either a person who migrates alone, or migrates with his family or the left-behind vulnerable family member who stays back in the village.

Infrastructure Challenges

  • Another challenge is related to the lack of electronic Point of Sale (ePoS).Currently, around 77% of FPSs operating across the country—have installed electronic Point of Sale (ePoS) machines.
  • But still big states like West Bengal and Bihar—that witness huge labour emigration, have been laggards in this regard, imposing a great barrier to the success of the scheme.

Corruption Issues

  • Every state has its own rules for Public Distribution System (PDS). If the scheme is implemented, it will further boost corruption in an already corrupted Public Distribution System.
  • The scheme will increase the woes of the common man and, the middlemen and corrupt PDS shop owners will exploit them.
  • The other challenge is ending duplication of ration cards, whereby a beneficiary is denied food grain since someone else took away the quota using a fake card.

National Food Security Act, 2013

  • Also known as the Right to Food Act, is an Act of the Parliament of India which aims to provide subsidized food grains to approximately two thirds of India's 1.2 billion people.
  • It was signed into law on 12 September 2013, retroactive to 5 July 2013.
  • It converts into legal entitlements for existing food security programmes of the Government of India. It includes the Midday Meal Scheme, Integrated Child Development Services scheme and the Public Distribution System.
  • Further, it recognises maternity entitlements.
  • The eligible person gets Rice @Rs. 3 per Kg, Wheat @Rs. 2  per Kg and Coarse Grains @Rs. 1 Kg per month subject to maximum 5Kg per month.

Source : Civil Services Chronicle Online, May, 2020