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

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Food Security for Interstate Migrants

An Empirical Analysis of the ONORC

This article uses a newly compiled transaction-level data set on 2 million-plus ration purchases made by interstate migrants to study the One Nation, One Ration Card scheme. The analysis suggests that despite gaining momentum, the initiative may still have some distance to cover. Interstate transactions remain small compared to intra-state sales. Success in implementing and benefiting from the scheme is highly skewed.

Views are strictly personal.

The authors thank Saurabh Yadav for compiling the data set and William Joe and Suyash Rai for their helpful feedback.

From the time we last examined the One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC) scheme (Agrawal and Yadav 2021), it has truly grown by leaps and bounds. All 36 states and union territories have now completed the prerequisites for full portability of food security across the country, with Assam being the latest state to join in June 2022 (PIB 2022a). With India and the world facing a resurgence of food inflation driven by several contemporaneous supply shocks, it is important to assess whether the ONORC programme is proving fit for purpose, especially for migrant workers who suffered severe hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic (Rajan and Bhagat 2022). In this article, we investigate the data from over 2 million portability transactions made by interstate migrants in the three years between August 2019when the ONORC was first introducedand July 2022, and present several new findings on the initiative.

The core idea behind the ONORC is simple but revolutionary: making food entitlements portable across the country. Historically, ration cards were attached to specific last-mile delivery shops and cardholders could purchase grains only from their assigned outlet. The post-ONORC regime does away with this peculiarity and has exposed dealers to competition by giving greater choice to consumers. However, the scheme is specially targeted at migrant workers.

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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