ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Revival of the Public Distribution System: Evidence and Explanations

Contrary to a common belief that India's public distribution system is irreparably dysfunctional, a nine-state survey of the pds finds that the respondents received 84-88% of their full entitlement. The implicit subsidy for households below the poverty line from pds foodgrains alone is roughly equivalent, in many states, to a week's nrega wages every month. The revival of the pds can be traced, in large part, to a renewed political interest which manifests itself in state initiatives such as expanded coverage, reduced prices, computerisation of stock management, etc. A large majority of the respondents preferred to receive in-kind food transfers rather than cash transfers, except in Bihar where the pds is still in very poor shape. Their testimonies, and the survey findings, point to many good reasons to be wary of a hasty transition to cash transfers. Further improving the pds seems like a more sensible way forward.

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