A Public distribution system is a form that is sponsored by a government of India. It comprises a string of shops eligible to distribute basic food and non-food commodities to those people coming under the poverty line at very low prices. The central and state governments are deemed to regulate the Public distribution system.
The fact is, the central government is liable for procurement, preservation, transportation, and bulk allocation of food grains, while state governments hold the liability of distributing the food to the people, by the way, established system of Fair Price Shops.
Besides, the state governments are liable for operational responsibilities comprising an identification of families coming under the poverty line, allocation of ration cards, management and monitoring the functioning of the FPSs system (PDS) is an Indian food security system.
Some of the commodities distributed by the food department comprise staple food grains, like rice, pulses, wheat, sugar, and kerosene. These are available at the ration shops established in different states across the country.
This system includes all the agencies who take interest from the procurement stage to the final delivery of commodities to the customer.
The agencies that are involved in the array of procurement, transportation, storage and distribution of commodities are known as the Food Corporation of India. Thus, the public distribution system differs from the Private as it involves the involvement of government agencies and government control.
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Objectives of the Public Distribution System
- To give a helping hand to the people below the poverty line in terms of a continued supply of certain minimum quantities of food grains at possible low prices.
- To provide equitable distribution.
- To control the rise in the price of essential Commodities in the open market.
In brief, the responsibility of the public distribution system is on both the central and state governments. The central government primarily involves dealing with the buffer stock operations (though FCI) and ruling the internal and external trade of food grains as well. Moreover, the central government through its procurement activity make sure to control the differences of surplus and deficit food grain-producing states.
Public Distribution System flow
The Public distribution system involves eight stages starting from Farmers to Beneficiary (Customers). It means the customers get the commodities after seven stages.
[Image Credit: civilserviceindia.com]
The advent of the Public Distribution System
The fact is, the Public distribution system has developed from many decades in India. Due to adverse environmental conditions in India like famines, floods, etc., the availability of food became declined. To help the victims, the government of India took various measures. The food security system is one of them. That first step was taken in 1939 under the British regime when the Second World War commenced. At that time, the government started distributing the goods to the people suffering from scarcity of food at very affordable.
Due to the occurrence of the great Bengal Famine in 1943, the public distribution system was increased to other cities and town. Consecutive increase in stress and disturbance like wars gave hike rise to a form of the food security system.
The Public Distribution System in India is divided into three groups, includes:
- From 1939 to 1965
- From 1965 to 1975
- From 1975 onward’s.
Features of the Public Distribution System (PDS)
As already stated, the Public Distribution System of food supplies commenced with the intention of giving relief to victims that affected by the famine and drought in 1939. For this, the government included include a larger area of operations for procurement and distribution of food grains.
Public Distribution System is a system where the distribution of commodities is done at the fair prices. It is operated by private dealers, which controlled by the government of India.
The basic food aid includes Rice, wheat, and sugar, which distribute throughout this period while kerosene, edible oil is the secondary goods also given to people below the poverty line.
The required quantity of foods and other items are measured by the government through internal procurement. It helps to maintain the quantity byways of import or buffer stock. Moreover, the government helps to bear the cost of the subsidy, to supply goods at minimum possible prices, etc., to maintain the Public Distribution System seamlessly.
The working of this system didn’t interrupt the functioning of the free market mechanism except in the limited statutory rationing areas. Moreover, people have opted to either buy, through Fair Price Shops or from the open market.
The foremost effort of government in the Public Distribution System is to provide a basic minimum quantity of essential goods at the cheapest prices, especially for people under the poverty line and to stabilise their open market prices as well. Also, to stop an unwarranted rise in such prices under crisis era. In brief, the price offer for the commodities is usually lower than open market prices.
The Public Distribution System is entirely established to help the urban areas. It helps the urban society to complete the need for the scarcity of food and other essential items at a very low cost.
The fact is, the food grains offered in the ration shops are not sufficient to fulfil the consumption necessities of the poor society. The PDS has been disproved for its urban unfairness and its failure to serve the poorer society of the population flawlessly.
Reforming the Public Distribution System
It has been noticed that this program was defined by the ministry to modernise Public Distribution System. The government used updated technology such as computerisation of the Public Distribution System to streamline the project in a simple manner. It also automated all the ration shops available across the country.
The government of Odisha and Gujarat took the initiative to turn this process in an accurate form as much as possible. In addition to it, the draft food security Bill talks of local distribution of commodities.
Moreover, in some states, the implementation of new ways have done to make sure that the distribution of food grains must be in a clear manner, comprising village elders, panchayat leaders, and gram Sabha in monitoring.
Besides, the Indian government and the Department of Food and Public Distribution have enhanced this program as much as possible, including:
- Beneficiary identification, and finding inclusion or exclusion errors
- Finding diversions and leakages
- Supervising food grain storage
- Providing timely distribution
- Worthwhile accountability and monitoring of this system
- Providing food security
- Mechanisms for Grievance Redressal
Introduction of Aadhaar
Aadhaar card is one of the predominant detail to modernise the general public distribution system. The Unique Identification number Aadhaar considered by way of the Indian authorities for residents of India to sincerely and completely verify their identity anywhere in the country.
The mandate for the UIDAI comprises defining using the range across essential applications and services. The Public Distribution System is one software, and the UIDAI has as a consequence laid out the vital function Aadhaar can play within the PDS. The recipients of the PDS can be registered into the Aadhaar system.
The use of the Aadhaar number in public distribution system will lessen duplicates, frauds, and errors beneficiaries in public distribution system databases in order to result in decreasing wastage and diversion within the machine.
An Aadhaar enabled system makes access to PDS advantages portable across a State and the country as well. This could endow the Public Distribution System beneficiary due to the portability of advantages and choice of the Public Distribution System shop.
The bargaining power will move from the dealer to the recipient so that it will support the empowerment and bring about enhanced responsibility. Moreover, usage of Aadhaar authentication at every alternate point might enable governments to track the movement of food entitlements across the general PDS chain and find out errors, blockages, and diversions in real-time. Moreover, in the case of centralised procurement, such authentication could start at the FCI point.
Adhaar card authentication at each stage
The fact is, the streamlined process of the public distribution system not only requires computerisation of operations, however, but it also needs the active involvement of Panchayati Raj Institutions and the local community.
The basic purpose of an automated computerised system is the monitoring of the movement of the grains and ensures that there is no human interference in the supervision of records as well.
The PDS in the nation expedites the regular supply (even in the adverse environmental conditions) of the commodities and delivery of the essential merchandises to the poor community through a network of Fair Price Shops at a subsidised price.
This program was started to control the hiking up in the food subsidy bill borne by the Government and to confirm a more pointed targeting of the poorest group.
As already stated, the Public Distribution System is controlled under the joint responsibility of the Central and the State Governments which is going well, but there is a need to cover other urban areas which are still away from this beneficiary scheme. Moreover, the government should emphasize on ensuring other commodities apart from wheat, rice, sugar, and kerosene at cheap prices as well.