ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Roll Out a Universal Public Distribution System

Linking beneficiary ratio to the last census numbers excludes around 10 crore eligible claimants.


The response sought by a Supreme Court bench from the union government on a public interest litigation, which alleged cancellation of nearly 3 crore ration cards due to their linking with Aadhaar numbers, has once again brought into focus major lacunae in the public distribution system (PDS). The petitioners argue that such a large-scale exclusion of the poor from the PDS was due to the insistence on the use of Aadhaar identities for biometric verification, which often fails due to bad internet connections in rural and remote areas. In fact, complaints about denial of ration cards to eligible claimants have been regularly raised by activists for a long time.

The problems of exclusion have only intensified after the roll-out of the targeted public food distribution system (TPDS) in 1997, which segregated beneficiaries into those below the poverty line (BPL), with larger entitlements of grain and subsidies, and those above the poverty line (APL), who have to pay the economic cost of the grain. Later in 2000, the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) was launched, with higher grain allocations and larger subsidies for the poorest households, and extended to 2.5 crore households, or around one-third of the BPL population, by 2005.

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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