One Nation One Ration Card Scheme - An Overview
Author: Mohammed Asif
One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC) Scheme aims to make sure that No citizen sleeps hungry which was rolled out under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) 2013.
The One Nation One Ration card Scheme is a tech-driven structure that allows laborers daily wages, urban poor like rage pickers, street dwellers, temporary workers in organized and unorganized sectors, domestic workers, etc- to get their daily quota of food grains from any electronic point of sale enabled FPS of their choice anywhere in the country.
Emergence of ONORC
The emergence of this project tracks us to the year of 2019 where PILOT PROJECT was begun from which both Andhra Pradesh and Telengana could take provisions by the means of a single ration card perhaps it was not carried out by other states.[i]
Following are few rationales for the emergence of ONORC:
a. Currently, the beneficiary can avail subsidized food grain under NFSA only within their state from FAIR PRICE SHOPS (FPS)
b. Geographical location is a hindrance for Migrant workers as the entitled subsidized food is available to them only in their domestic states.
c. When a one person immigrant to any other state applying for a new ration card is compulsory.
d. According to the 2011 census, 4.1 core people were interstate migrants.
e. As a result in October 2011, report of the task force on an IT strategy for PDS and a direct transfer of subsidy for food and kerosene suggested this scheme.
Why do we need ONORC?
As we have all stroked by this Covid-19 pandemic it created a public healthcare crisis around the world and in different states as the sudden lockdowns were initiated so many people among the working class started facing unemployment and acute poverty and many found themselves without jobs, food and shelter.
Thus a large number of migrant workers started leaving for their hometowns, where they still perhaps had an approach to PDS benefits. With requisite transport facilities available amid the lockdowns and increasing poverty, many set out on long, arduous journeys on foot and some even died en route.[ii]
There was a terrible need to get access to the prerequisite and subsidies provided by the government.
Objectives of ONORC scheme
The policy which was brought by the Central government will be having in the following areas:
a. Reforms in the public distribution system
b. Access to the food grains to each beneficiary
c. Integrating all the Indian states and UTs in the scheme by March 2021
How does it work?
ONORC depends on the next following for its smooth functioning:
a. Ration card
b. Aadhaar number
c. Electronic Points of sale (ePoS)
A national policy that runs on two supporting portals – Integrated Management of Public Distribution System (IM-PDS) (impds.nic.in) and Annavitran (annavitran.nic.in) digitizes ration cards that have all relevant details of beneficiaries and schedules a monthly quota of the ration cardholder is entitled to receive. Aadhaar is the fundamental biometric data source.
The system allows termination of provisions through electronic point of sale mechanisms. In effect. ONORC allows portability of ration benefits across and it works just like mobile number portability.
Bright side of the ONORC
a. The finance minister said PDS ration cards will be made portable, adding this would benefit 67 crore beneficiaries or 83% of PDS beneficiaries.[iii]
b. This system would introduce a new biometric recognition process so as to decrease the repetition of distribution.
c. This would enable that person to purchase the number of food grains to which she is entitled under the NFSA.
d. The aim of the NFS Act 2013 provides subsidized food to one-third of 1.2 billion total populations, which could be achieved only by the implementation of ONORC.
Issues with ONORC
There are several issues raised on ONORC by activists and some of them are as follows-
a. Activists are not certain about whether the ONORC scheme is the solution for migrant workers. According to the RtFC the primary issue with the food rations entitlements under NFSA and the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana is that these are available only 67% of the citizens will be exposed to this policy by the central government. As of now, however only 60% of the population has a ration card under the NFSA as the population data that the government uses to allot ration cards is from 2011.[iv]
b. Another issue is with the ONORC scheme that has come up on several occasions, is its reliance on Aadhaar-based biometric authentication and it will cut out the poor and they will be abandoned due to their inability to access their provisions.
c. The Supreme Court also took cognizance of the fact that the state-wise coverage of PDS under the NFSA was determined on the basis of the 2011 census and it has not been amended after all.
As a trail similar to the GST it should be implemented for a category of states keeping an eye on the plan of action and consequence of the probable future losses
And before going for the policy government should establish a committee to monitor the states with an excessive number of immigrants and every such state to be clustered with those from which the more number of immigrants belong to.
[i] https://lawlex.org/lex-pedia/relevance-of-one-nation-one-ration-card/20332#:~:text=the%20year%20of-,2019,-when%20PILOT%20PROJECT [ii]News/India/ 12-year-old walks 150 km from Telangana to her Chhattisgarh home, dies of exhaustion [iii] https://indianexpress.com/article/what-is/what-is-the-one-nation-one-ration-card-scheme-migrants-coronavirus-lockdown-6409921 [iv] https://www.theleaflet.in/will-one-nation-one-ration-card-help-migrant-workers/#:~:text=cards%20is%20from-,2011.,-In%20a%20statement
Edited by: Shuruthi J , Associate Editor, Lawgic Stratum.