ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Reetika KheraSubscribe to RSS - Reetika Khera

Impact of Aadhaar on Welfare Programmes

India’s ambitious biometric identity documents project, Aadhaar, was portrayed as one that would enhance India’s welfare efforts by promoting inclusion and reducing corruption. From being a voluntary ID, it has become de facto compulsory for most welfare programmes. Despite early warnings of its limited role in achieving its stated objectives, successive governments have ramped up its use. Using a variety of sources, a review of the impact of Aadhaar on welfare programmes is presented. It is found that far from being inclusive and reducing corruption, Aadhaar is becoming a tool of exclusion. The government’s estimates of savings also do not stand up to scrutiny, and whatever is termed as savings is often the result of a denial of legal entitlements. In its current form, the Aadhaar project undermines the right to life.

Aadhaar and Food Security in Jharkhand

Aadhaar-based biometric authentication is now compulsory for most users of the public distribution system in Jharkhand. Based on a recent household survey, this paper examines various issues related to this measure, including exclusion problems, transaction costs, and its impact on corruption. The findings raise serious questions about the appropriateness of this technology for rural Jharkhand.

Children's Development

The Integrated Child Development Services scheme and maternity entitlements can play a crucial role in improving children's food and nutrition security. Both interventions are part of the National Food Security Act, though maternity entitlements have yet to be activated. Odisha has experimented with several creative policies, including initiating a maternity entitlements scheme in 2011 before the NFSA was enacted, introduction of eggs and decentralised procurement of take-home rations in the ICDS. This article, based on a field study of the two children's schemes in four districts in December 2014, reports how they perform and identifies areas for further action.

Clarification on PDS Leakages

This note outlines the methodological reasons for the (small) differences in estimates of leakages from the public distribution system in 2011-12, as reported in Himanshu and Abhijit Sen (EPW, 16 and 23 November 2013) and Drèze and Khera (EPW, 14 February 2015).

Food Security

Bihar's public distribution system used to be one of the worst in India, but the system has improved significantly from 2011 onwards. The National Food Security Act, backed early on by the political leadership, enabled the state to include the bulk of the rural population in this improved system. However, there is still a long way to go in ensuring that the system is reliable, transparent and corruption-free.

Public Health Facilities in North India

Following the introduction of universal access to free medicines and diagnostics at public health facilities in Rajasthan during 2011-13, we revisited the facilities surveyed by Banerjee et al (2004), and present the changes over the last decade. We find substantial improvement in infrastructure and the patient utilisation rate, but abysmally low utilisation of facilities primarily due to high absenteeism. We also present findings from fieldwork in Himachal Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand to bring out striking contrasts among these four northern states.

Understanding Leakages in the Public Distribution System

This article attempts to resolve the puzzle of public distribution system leakages using the latest available data. Leakages remain high, but there is clear evidence of improvement in recent years, especially in states -- including Bihar -- that have undertaken bold PDS reforms. The main source of leakages is the "above the poverty line" quota, which is due to be phased out under the National Food Security Act.

Rural Poverty and the Public Distribution System

This article presents estimates of the impact of the public distribution system on rural poverty, using National Sample Survey data for 2009-10 and official poverty lines. At the all-India level, the PDS is estimated to reduce the poverty-gap index of rural poverty by 18% to 22%. The corresponding figures are much larger for states with a well-functioning PDS, e g, 61% to 83% in Tamil Nadu and 39% to 57% in Chhattisgarh.

Pages

Back to Top