Universal Public Distribution System (PDS) | UPSC

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IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 30 June 2020

“No masterpiece was ever created by a lazy artist.” –Anonymous

Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt is an initiative to dilute major Editorials of leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Here we choose two editorials on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC MAINS 2020.

EDITORIAL HUNT 97 :“Universal Public Distribution System (PDS) | UPSC

Universal Public Distribution System (PDS) | UPSC

Dipa Sinha

Dipa Sinha teaches at Ambedkar University Delhi

      HEADLINES:

Grain aplenty and the crisis of hunger

      CENTRAL THEME:

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

      MAINS QUESTION:

Overflowing Granaries cannot fill hungry mouths in the times of deadly pandemic.Discuss universal application of PDS -(GS 3)

      LEARNING: 

  • Unemployment and Hunger raise poverty.
  • Schemes and beneficiaries .
  • Buffer stocks and hunger relationship.

      INTRODUCTION: 

With the economic crisis continuing on the one hand and the health system crumbling under the burden of rising COVID-19 cases on the other, it is clear that it will take a long time for things to get back to “normal”.

  • 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.

      BODY: 

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

What is required is a universal Public Distribution System (PDS) to ensure that nobody is excluded.

  • 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.

It has been announced that ONOC is operational in 20 States.

BIOMETRIC AUTHENTICATION

  • 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.

  ONOC is definitely not a solution to the immediate crisis of hunger that continues in the aftermath of the lockdown.

  • STRANDED LABOURS : It must not be forgotten that lakhs of migrants were stranded in different places without access to food.

      IASbhai Windup: 

OVERFLOWING GRANARIES

This emphasis on ONOC is an obfuscation, while the real issue is of burgeoning food stocks along with widespread hunger.

  • HIGH STOCKS : It is unfathomable why the PDS is not being universalised immediately especially when food stocks are at such a historic high.

The quantity sold each year was less than the quantity offered.

  • 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

 

TRENDING NOW : Important The Hindu Editorials 

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