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WHAT IS THE ‘ONE NATION, ONE RATION CARD’ SYSTEM?

Why in news?

  • Finance Minister on 14th May 2020 announced the national rollout of a ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ system in all states and Union Territories by March 2021.
  • As of now, about 20 states have come on board to implement the inter-state ration card portability.

Why do we need a ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ system?

  • In the present system, a ration cardholder can buy foodgrains only from an FPS that has been assigned to her in the locality in which she lives.
  • Suppose a beneficiary lives in the district of Basti in Uttar Pradesh and migrates to Mumbai for work. Currently, she is no longer able to purchase subsidised foodgrains from a PDS shop in her new locality in Mumbai.
  • The Public Distribution System (PDS) system is marred with inefficiency leading to leakages in the system. To plug the leakages and make the system better, the government has started the reform process.

What is the one ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ system?

  • Under the ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ system, the beneficiary will be able to buy subsidised foodgrains from any FPS across the country.
  • The new system, based on a technological solution, will identify a beneficiary through biometric authentication on electronic Point of Sale (ePoS) devices installed at the FPSs, and enable that person to purchase the quantity of foodgrains to which she is entitled under the NFSA.

How will the system of ration card portability work?

  • Ration card portability is aimed at providing intra-state as well as inter-state portability of ration cards.
  • While the Integrated Management of Public Distribution System (IM-PDS) portal provides the technological platform for the inter-state portability of ration cards, enabling a migrant worker to buy foodgrains from any FPS across the country, the other portal (annavitran.nic.in) hosts the data of distribution of foodgrains through E-PoS devices within a state.
  • The Annavitran portal enables a migrant worker or his family to avail the benefits of PDS outside their district but within their state.

Since when has the One Nation, One Ration Card System been in the works?

  • The one card scheme work started about two years back when the government launched a scheme called Integrated Management of Public Distribution System (IM-PDS) in April 2018.
  • It used a technological solution involving the use of Aadhaar to identify beneficiaries.
  • Under the scheme, the seeding of ration cards with Aadhaar is being done.
  • Simultaneously, PoS machines are being installed at all FPSs across the country.
  • Once 100 per cent of Aadhaar seeding and 100 per cent installation of PoS devices is achieved, the national portability of ration cards will become a reality.
  • It will enable migrant workers to buy foodgrains from any FPS by using their existing/same ration card.

How has been the experience of Ration Card Portability so far?

  • The facility of inter-state ration card portability is available in 20 states as of now but the number of transactions done through using this facility has been low so far.
  • According to data available on the IMPDS portal, only 275 transactions have been done until May 14.
  • Usages of intra-state ration card portability are way higher than the inter-state portability.

-Source: Indian Express

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