Skip to main content

97% don't want Direct Bank Transfer for food from ration shop, 25% didn't receive cash, says Jharkhand survey

Jharkhand officials "testing" biometric system for PDS
By Our Representative
A recent survey, carried out by student volunteers in the Nagri block in the outskirts of Ranchi, capital of Jharkhand, has found that a huge 97% of the sample households have opposed Direct Bank Transfer (DBT) against the subsidies they should be getting by using the public distribution (PDS) system ration shops. The survey was coordinated by well-known academic Jean Dreze  and researcher Nazar Khalid.
The survey follows the October 2017 decision of the Jharkhand Government to introduce DBT as a pilot project for PDS in Nagri. Instead of rice at Re 1 per kg at the ration shop, the PDS cardholders are being offered a subsidy (calculated at Rs 31.60 per kg) in their bank account, as they are to buy rice at the ration shop at Rs 32.60 per kg.
If this pilot succeeds, the Jharkhand government had announced, it would extend it across the state.
Bringing this to light, Right to Food (RTF), a Jharkhand-based campaign organization, said, “Their unhappiness – indeed anger – with the DBT system is not hard to understand. In January 2018, about 25% of cardholders did not receive the cash.”
It added, “Even those who get money face many hurdles. Many households do not know which of their bank accounts is being credited with DBT money. The sample households had 3.5 bank accounts on average.”
RTF stated, quoting from the survey, “They are often constrained to make multiple trips to the bank to find out if the money has come, as most of them do not receive SMS alerts. Some banks even disallow cardholders from withdrawing money (claiming that the amounts are too small), forcing them to make further trips to the local Pragya Kendra or banking correspondents, where they often have to pay bribes.”
“The entire process leads to a huge waste of time and money for the cardholders. It is especially cumbersome for the elderly, the disabled, and those who find it difficult to take time off work”, it underlined.
Jean Dreze, Nazar Khalid
In a statement, RTF underscored, “All this is in addition to the hassles of Aadhaar-based biometric authentication (ABBA), rampant across Jharkhand. ABBA applies at the Pragya Kendra and ration shop. It is far from clear what purpose DBT serves when ABBA is in place at the ration shop.”
“PDS dealers, too, are inconvenienced by the DBT system as they now have to spend much more time to distribute grain and have to handle about Rs 4-5 lakh worth of cash every month”, it added.
Nagri, said RTF, is the latest in a series of unsuccessful DBT pilots, adding, “As per Niti Ayog’s surveys of DBT pilots in Chandigarh, Puducherry and Dadra and Nagar Haveli, this system is more expensive to access PDS entitlements. These surveys also found that over time a small proportion of cardholders stopped receiving the cash subsidy.”
“While these pilots allowed cardholders to buy food items from the market, in Nagri people were restricted to purchasing grain from the PDS shop”, RTF said, adding, “A DBT pilot also failed in Kasba block of Purnia district (Bihar), though further details of this experiment are not available.”
The DBT “failure” acquires significance, as Jharkhand has amongst the highest levels of hunger and undernutrition in the country, and PDS is the lifeline for many rural households, RTF said, adding,” It may be recalled that lakhs of ration cards not linked with Aadhaar were deleted in Jharkhand last year.”
Significantly, in the last five months, seven starvation deaths were reported in Jharkhand. Five of them were due to the mandatory integration of PDS with Aadhaar.
Meanwhile, several civil society organizations, in alliance with some political parties, have decided to hold a padyatra from Nagri to Ranchi on February 26 to demand the discontinuation of the DBT pilot. The political parties to join the protest include Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India (ML), Indian National Congress, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha.

Comments

TRENDING

'These people shouldn't be in jail': UN official seeks release of 16 human rights defenders

By Our Representative A United Nations human rights official has called upon the Government of India (GoI) to “immediately release" 16 human rights defenders who have been imprisoned on charges of terrorism in the Bhima-Koregaon Case, insisting, “These people should not be in jail. They are our modern-day heroes and we should all be looking to them and supporting them and demanding their release.”  

Arrest of Fr Stan Swamy: UN makes public letter seeking explanation from Govt of India

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Government of India (GoI), three senior United Nations (UN) officials – Elina Steinerte, vice-chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Fernand de Varennes, special rapporteur on minority issues – have said that the arrest of veteran activist Father Stan Swamy in October 2020 marks “the escalation of harassment the human rights defender has been subjected to since 2018.”

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Farm laws 'precursor' to free trade deal envisaged by US corporates to allow GMO

By Rajiv Shah Did the Government of India come up with the three farm laws, first rushed by promulgating ordinances in June 2020, to not just open the country’s agricultural sector to the corporate sector but also as a precursor to comply with the requirements of the United States for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as envisaged by the outgoing US president Donald Trump?

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Differing from Ambedkar, Kancha Ilaiah holds a 'different' theory of caste system

By Banavath Aravind* I was introduced to Kancha Ilaiah’s work when I was about 20 years old. He was then in the midst of a controversy for a chapter in his book "Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution", which termed the Baniya community as social smugglers. During many of his debates, I had come to notice his undeterred fighting spirit in trying to bring up certain fundamental social issues that were hitherto undiscussed. I eventually came across some of his works and started reading them silently. I’m deliberately stressing upon the word ‘silently’ here, as this was the kind of silence particularly associated with sensitive social issues like caste, religion, etc. But, as I write this essay, I feel silences on sensitive issues should be broken. Ilaiah opened up an entirely new debate that had the vigour and strength to counter the systemic Brahmanism. His methods of research were also novel in terms of going back to the roo

Fr Stan's arrest figures in UK Parliament: Govt says, Indian authorities were 'alerted'

London protest for release of Stan Swamy  By Rajiv Shah Will Father Stan Swamy’s arrest, especially the fact that he is a Christian and a priest, turn out to be major international embarrassment for the Government of India? It may well happen, if a recent debate on a resolution titled “India: Persecution of Minority Groups” in the United Kingdom (UK) Parliament is any indication. While Jesuits have protested Fr Stan's arrest in UK and US, the resolution, adopted in the Parliament, said, “This House has considered the matter of persecution of Muslims, Christians and minority groups in India”.

New trend? Riots 'expanded' to new rural areas post-2002 Gujarat carnage: Report

A VHP poster declaring a Gujarat village part of Hindu Rashtra  By Rajiv Shah  Buniyaad, a Gujarat-based civil society organization, engaged in monitoring of communal violence in the state, in a new report, “Peaceful Gujarat: An Illusion or Truth?” has said that a “new trend” has come about in communal violence in the state, where the parts of Gujarat which didn't see communal riots in 2002 are experiencing “regular bouts” of communal violence.

More than 5,200 Gujarat schools to be closed down, merged, says govt document

RTE Forum, Gujarat, releasing fact-sheet on education By Our Representative A Gujarat government document has revealed that it is planning to close down 5,223 schools in the name of school merger. The document, dated July 20, 201 was released by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Gujarat. It shows that the worst-affected districts because of this merger are those which are populated by marginalized communities – especially tribals, Dalits and minorities, said RTE Forum’s Gujarat convener Mujahid Nafees.

Consumption pattern, not economic shock behind 'poor' child health indicators

By Neeraj Kumar, Arup Mitra* The findings of the latest round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-20 covering 22 States/UTs under Phase-I  present a somewhat disappointing picture of children’s health in India. Majority of the experts, based on prima facie evidence, just highlighted the deteriorating sign of child health in terms of increase in proportion of stunted and underweight children in most of the phase-I states/UTs over last two rounds of NFHS (2015-16 to 2019-20).