The introduction of National Food Security Act (NFSA) 2013 marks a paradigm shift in the approach of food security. Under the act, over 75 percent of rural population and 50 percent of urban population covered under the Public Distribution System are entitled to get subsidised food grains. The act, implemented across all Indian states and union territories is said to be the world’s largest food security program.
However, challenges still persisted especially among the itinerant workers who are required to constantly migrate in search of jobs. Despite falling under the net of the scheme, they were unable to avail the benefits. This is mainly because each household’s ration card is linked to a particular ration shop only the benefits of which can’t be availed in some other states.
Many states have allowed the beneficiaries to buy rations from any ration shops within the state but this has left out the workers who need to migrate interstate.
Considering all the factors, the government has come up with “One Nation, One Ration Card” scheme which is due to be launched in June 2020.
The scheme aims to enable the millions of itinerant workers to avail subsidised food grains anywhere in the country.
Currently, under the National Food Security Act 2013, subsidised food grains are distributed at Rs 1-3/kg to over 800 million people. The allocation of food is based on the number of family members, the information of which is mentioned on the ration card which is digitally linked to Adhaar card, and is issued to the head of the family. If a beneficiary migrates to another state, s/he has to apply for a new ration card.
The “One nation, One ration card” is developed to eliminate this need of getting a new ration card each time a person moves to a new state.
Itinerant workers make for around 37 percent of India’s population. However the government doesn’t have the exact state-wise number of migrants. Furthermore, there are still many fair price shops that don’t have Electronic point-of-sale (Pos) machines.
In this regard, migration patterns across the country will have to be studied thoroughly since the fair price shops of any state one has migrated to will need to have information on the inflow and outflow of migrants. Additionally, the government’s supply of food grains to any state is done as per the district-wise requirements based on the number of ration card holders and previous year’s allocation.
Additionally, for a successful implementation of the new scheme, all fair price shops offering subsidised food grains ought to have Electronic Pos machines installed and all ration card will need to be linked with Adhaar Card number.