A report put out by the UN World Food Programme in collaboration with the statistics and programme implementation ministry shows nearly one in three Indian children will grow up stunted by 2022.
Consumer affairs, food and public distribution minister Ram Vilas Paswan recently talked about ‘one nation, one ration card’ for availing subsidised food under the National Food Security Act (NFSA). The scheme, which is part of the 100-day agenda under the Modi 2.0 government, will ensure that no poor person is deprived of their right to food under PDS entitlements if they migrate from their native state—one can avail food by showing their ration card in any part of the country. The implementation of this scheme is important as it aims to tackle the issue of malnutrition and right to food at a nation-wide level. The Centre has given all the states and Union Territories time until next year (June 30, 2020) to implement this. As of now, ten states are already providing portability of PDS entitlements, and eleven states can implement it with ease, as they have the Point of Sale (PoS) machines already installed. The move addresses the plight of migrant workers who face a hard time availing basic necessities in a new environment. Not only this, it will also curb corruption and duplication of ration cards, as the government aims at making the whole system digitised via the maintenance of an Integrated Management PDS system. The Centre must maintain data of the migrant workers opting for ration and hand this to the states for better monitoring against leakages.
As of now, 77% of India’s ration shops have PoS machines and 85% of people covered under the NFSA have their ration cards linked with Aadhaar. Aadhaar linkage will be mandatory for migrants wishing to avail of the benefits offered by the Centre. A report put out by the UN World Food Programme in collaboration with the statistics and programme implementation ministry shows nearly one in three Indian children will grow up stunted by 2022. Against such a backdrop, portability of ration-access and the simultaneous plugging of leakages can only be welcome.