IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 30 June 2020
“No masterpiece was ever created by a lazy artist.” –Anonymous
EDITORIAL HUNT 97 :“Universal Public Distribution System (PDS) | UPSC“
Dipa Sinha teaches at Ambedkar University Delhi
Grain aplenty and the crisis of hunger
The focus on One Nation One Ration Card is misplaced when what is needed is a universal Public Distribution System
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3:Public Distribution System : Subsidies : Agriculture
Overflowing Granaries cannot fill hungry mouths in the times of deadly pandemic.Discuss universal application of PDS -(GS 3)
- Unemployment and Hunger raise poverty.
- Schemes and beneficiaries .
- Buffer stocks and hunger relationship.
- UNEMPLOYMENT AND INEQUALITY : Unemployment is high and it will take a while for lost livelihoods to be rebuilt. India was already facing an economic slowdown along with high levels of inequality.
- FOOD SUPPORT : it is absolutely essential that food support in the form of free/subsidised grains is made available to all without any disruptions.
AN INADEQUATE RESPONSE
- PMGKY SCHEME : As a measure to address hunger the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) was launched to provide 5kg of foodgrains and 1 kg of pulses for free to all those who are beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) for three months.
- BENEFICIARIES COVER : As it became obvious that many were not part of the NFSA.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE
- EXTENSION : The state has not yet announced any such extension.
- ONE NATION ONE RATION CARD SCHEME : The state seems to be indicating that all problems of exclusion will be resolved once the One Nation One Ration Card scheme is expanded across the country, which is supposed to be achieved by March 2021.
- ONOC BENEFICIARIES : A beneficiary can receive ration entitlements as under the NFSA from any fair price shop in the country using her/his Aadhaar number and biometric authentication.
- DIGITAL INCLUSION : This will apparently be possible once the Aadhaar numbers of all members enlisted in ration cards are seeded.
- PORTABILITY ACROSS STATES : It is an important and valid concern that needs to be ensured so that migrant workers can access their entitlements.
- EXPERIENCE OF BIOMETRIC AUTHENTICATION : Using electronic point of sale (ePoS) machines so far suggests that it results in exclusion of some of the most marginalised because of multiple reasons.
- STRANDED LABOURS : It must not be forgotten that lakhs of migrants were stranded in different places without access to food.
- HIGH STOCKS : It is unfathomable why the PDS is not being universalised immediately especially when food stocks are at such a historic high.
- SUBSIDY BURDEN : One-third of all sales was to State governments (almost all the rice) thereby shifting the subsidy burden to State governments.
- BUYERS : If not OMSS to private buyers, the only other options left are to either export them or let the grain go waste.
Choosing any of these options while people go hungry is nothing less than criminal.
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL| Universal Public Distribution System (PDS) | UPSC