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Transformational Grains

Context

  • According to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food, and Public Distribution, approximately 77.88 crore portable transactions have occurred under the “One Nation, One Ration Card” programme since its inception in August 2019. (ONORC).
  • This includes both intra-state and inter-state transactions delivering foodgrains to beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY).
  • 69 crore of these transactions were reported during the Covid-19 period, which began in April 2020.

Relevance

GS Paper 2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 

Mains Question

The One Nation, One Ration Card programme is a miracle for India’s migrant population. Examine critically. (250 Words)


ONORC Information

  • It is a technology-driven scheme being implemented under the NFSA for the nationwide portability of ration cards.
  • Ration cardholders can purchase up to 5 kg of rice at Rs 3/kg per month, wheat at Rs 2/kg, and coarse grains at Rs 1/kg. This was mandated by the NFSA, which was passed in 2013.
  • Beneficiaries: The system’s beneficiaries are ration cardholders who are eligible to receive food grains from fair-priced shops (FPS).
  • For example, crores of workers, daily wagers, including urban poor such as rag pickers, street dwellers, temporary workers in both the organised and unorganised sectors, and domestic workers, are benefiting from this ground-breaking scheme.
  • Working: Under ONORC, these beneficiaries can claim full or partial foodgrains from any FPS in the country using their existing ration card and biometric/Aadhaar authentication.
  • Take-home rationing: The scheme also allows their family members back home, if any, to claim the ration card’s remaining foodgrains.
  • ONORC is based on technology that includes beneficiary ration card information, Aadhaar numbers, and electronic Points of Sale (ePoS).
  • At FPS, the system identifies a beneficiary using biometric authentication on ePoS devices.
  • Digitization push: As a result of the Prime Minister’s push for digital India, 100% of ration cards are now digitised. Furthermore, ePoS devices are installed in over 5. 3 lakh (99%) of FPSs.
  • Portal: The system is supported by two portals, which host all relevant data, as shown below.
    • Integrated Public Distribution System Management (IM-PDS) (impds.nic.in)
    • Annavitran (annavitran.nic.in).
  • The ONORC plan has been successfully implemented in all 36 Indian states/UTs, with Assam being the most recent entrant.
  • Increasing public awareness: Various ministries and departments have coordinated their efforts for strategic outreach and communication to raise public awareness of this scheme.
  • Using 167 FM and 91 community radio stations, the government launched a radio campaign in Hindi and 10 other regional languages.

New developments

  • Mobile App: For the benefit of all NFSA beneficiaries, a specially customised Android Mobile App on ONORC “Mera Ration” has also been launched.
  • The application offers a variety of features and facilitates ration portability, particularly for migrant NFSA beneficiaries. Furthermore, the app is now available in 13 languages.
  • Toll-free number: In addition, most states/UTs have a 5-digit ‘14445’ toll-free number available through ONORC.

The Importance of ONORC

  • It is a high-impact welfare programme that supports and nourishes the underprivileged. With ONORC, both the worker and his or her family can easily obtain benefits.
  • Act as an economic catalyst: ONORC allows migrants to buy heavily subsidised grain in cities, allowing them to save money for other purchases.
  • Migrant workers used to lose their entitlement to subsidised grain when they moved to cities to work because they were tied to the FPS back home.
  • If they had been registered at a city FPS, their families would have purchased grain at much higher market prices.
  • ONORC is a game changer for migrant workers due to the nationwide portability of ration cards.
  • SDG achievement: It will also contribute to the achievement of SDG 2’s target of ending hunger by 2030.
  • Increased efficiency: By seeding Aadhar with ration cards, duplicate ration cards have been removed.
  • Beneficiary empowerment: Under ONORC, beneficiaries have the option of selecting their own dealer. If there is a misallocation or foul play, the beneficiary can immediately switch to another FPS shop.
  • End the monopoly of neighbourhood ration shops: For decades, beneficiaries had no choice but to go to a specific FPS due to the monopoly of neighbourhood ration shops. Shop owners controlled a monopoly and had no incentive to maintain quality.
  • The seller faces competition from over 5 lakh shops in every state of the country under ONORC. This is a watershed moment because it encourages shopkeepers to become more quality-conscious and competitive.
  • The push for competitiveness across lakhs of FPSs will contribute to an overall improvement in business culture, allowing Indians to obtain higher-quality goods and services.
  • It will also help small businesses grow rapidly by improving quality and expanding into the export market, as well as create a large number of jobs.

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