What is the “One Nation, One ration card”, what are its limitations?

Nirmala Sitharaman announced the “One Nation One Ration card” will be completed by March 2021 nationwide.

So far, 20 states have implemented the inter-state ration card portability scheme and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the national rollout “One Nation, One Ration Card” in all states and Union territories by March 2021. The Modi government has promised 83% of the population will be benefitted by August 2020 and the rest by March 2021.

According to the Finance Minister, this system will help migrant workers and their families to PDS benefits from any Fair Price Shop in the country. With the current system, a person can buy ration only from an FPS assigned to him/her in the locality a person lives. However, once the “One Nation One Ration Card” becomes operational nationwide, a person can buy his subsidized share of food from anywhere in the country. It will be all technological driven, the beneficiary will be identified through a biometric authentication on electronic Point of Sale (ePoS) devices installed at the FPSs.

How will this work

The scheme aims to provide intrastate and well as interstate profitability of ration cards. As it will be all technological driven there will be the Integrated Management of Public Distribution System (IM-PDS) portal, providing technical assistance for the inter-state portability of ration cards. While, the other portal (annavitran.nic.in) hosts the data of distribution of food grains through E-PoS devices within a state.

The Annavitran portal facilitates a migrant worker to avail the benefits of PDS outside his district but within the state


When did the Concept start?

To reform the public distribution system in the country government of India launches a scheme called Integrated Management of public Distribution System (IM-PDS) in April 2018.-+

To fix the leakages and issues in PDS system the government started the reform process for which they opted for the technological solution involving the use of Aadhaar card to identify the beneficiary. Under the scheme linking of ration cards with Aadhaar is being done. Also, the PoS machines have been installed at all the FPS’s across the country.

How many states have implemented this scheme and how has been the experience?

So far, 17 states and UTs including Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Kerala, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Telangana, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu are on board to roll out the inter-state portability of ration cards under the NFSA. And three more states — Odisha, Mizoram, and Nagaland — are expected to come on board by June 1, taking the number of States and UTs to 20 under the One Nation, Once Ration Card System.

As of now 20 states and UTs are providing the facility of inter-state ration card portability, but there have been a very smaller number of transactions through this service so far.

Data available on IMPDS porta shown only 275 have been done till May 14. Meanwhile, the probability of intrastate ration card profitability transaction is quite high.

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What could be the possible challenges in implementing the scheme

Everything so far goes well, but there are many challenges for the implementation for the successful conduct of the scheme, there are doubts will “One Nation One Ration Card” meets the same fate of Aadhaar cards. There have been many incidents of fake Aadhaar card scams in the country.

In order for the One Nation One Ration Card to work you need uninterrupted connectivity electronic point-of-sale (ePOS) machines, and operators at ration shop to be familiar with digital solutions. In rural and remote areas in India, this system looks away far away from reality.

The States where the scheme has been implemented the Aadhar card has not replaced the ration cards, it has only complemented it. You still have to show your ration at the ration shop.

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