Skip to main content

Doorstep delivery of PDS ration? Delhi govt move "unlikely to achieve anything, may end up making matters worse"

Jean Dreze
By Our Representative
Following the Supreme Court order, which has indicted both the Centre and the Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Delhi, restoring some of the powers of the elected Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government of Delhi, even as cautioning LG to not play an “obstructionist” role, the AAP government has decided to push several of the schemes “blocked” LG, insisting these do not need “concurrence” of the LG.
One of the schemes is doorstep delivery of ration, targeting 20 lakh beneficiaries of the Public Distribution System (PDS). To solve “widespread corruption” in PDS, the Arvind Kejriwal cabinet approved the scheme and in sent the file to the LG for approval. While LG did not approve it, following the apex court verdict, the state government is all to float it.
At least two senior scholars, known for opposing the way the Government of India is implementing the PDS system by making aadhaar and biometric authentication compulsory, however, have taken exception to the AAP move, too, insisting, the scheme is not “not practical nor desirable”. This is what they say in an email alert to Counterview:

Jean Dreze, Belgian-born Indian development economist and activist:

In the context of the Public Distribution System (and in the National Food Security Act), the term "doorstep delivery" generally refers to bulk delivery to PDS shops, not home delivery to PDS beneficiaries. Home delivery, in general, is neither practical nor desirable.
If biometric authentication is removed, as it should, the problem of old people not being able to go in person to the ration shop will be solved - they will be able to ask a neighbour or relative to go on their behalf (as they used to do before biometric authentication).
At best, doorstep delivery to a person's home should be an emergency measure in exceptional cases (e.g. possible starvation), in areas where biometric authentication applies.
It is important to avoid creating chaos in the PDS by making home delivery a general practice, as the Delhi government seems to be considering.
Reetika Khera

Reetika Khera, associate professor of economics in the Public Systems Group at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad:

Following the Supreme Court's verdict on the Delhi government, it appears that the Delhi government plans to push ahead with its plan of doing 'door step delivery' in the PDS. The idea was mooted in light of large scale exclusion resulting from the introduction of Aadhaar based biometric authentication (ABBA). It was heartening to see that the Delhi government was willing to acknowledge that there is a problem which needs action. Unfortunately, the proposed solution - i.e., door-step delivery - is unlikely to achieve anything and may end up making matters worse.
One, it will not solve the problem of exclusion due to ABBA (largely due to biometric and connectivity failures). So long as ABBA continues, exclusion will continue. ABBA brings no benefits in terms of reducing corruption, only increases people's hardships. ABBA pain without gain. Two, doorstep delivery at the doorstep of PDS beneficiaries may reduce transparency and increase corruption. Distribution of grain in a public place reduces the chances of cheating. Three, the proposal is impractical - who will deliver to people's homes, who will maintain oversight over these people, who will bear the additional costs, etc.
The Delhi government should instead explore smarter options, such as smart cards.
PS: In the National Food Security Act, 'doorstep delivery' refers to the doorstep of the ration dealer, not the PDS ration cardholder. Dealers used to transport grain from FCI godowns to their village, but used this as an opportunity to sell it in the open market en route.
As a solution to that, food departments began arranging transporters to the dealers doorstep (Chapter V of the National Food Security Act (NFSA), "Reforms in the Targeted Public Distribution System", section 12 (2)(a) clearly states: "doorstep delivery of foodgrains to the Targeted Public Distribution System outlets").

Comments

Melbourne Desi said…
The scholars who are opposing home/doorstep delivery of PDS rations should explain how does Amazon deliver every damn thing at the doorsteps in Western countries. There are companies who are even delivering daily cooked food on the doorstep. It also creates employment for those who deliver this stuff. I feel PDS rations can be delivered on the doorstep provided there is will. Perhaps, if there is WILL there is WAY. LET THIS EXPERIMENT TAKE PLACE!
Niranjan Dave said…
Delhi govt may try this as a pilot project for a limited area . Results would indicate whether this is practicable for entire population. The experiment is not irreversible like demonetisation

TRENDING

Girl child education: 20 major states 'score' better than Gujarat, says GoI report

By Rajiv Shah
A Government of India report, released last month, has suggested that “model” Gujarat has failed to make any progress vis-à-vis other states in ensuring that girls continue to remain enrolled after they leave primary schools. The report finds that, in the age group 14-17, Gujarat’s 71% girls are enrolled at the secondary and higher secondary level, which is worse than 20 out of 22 major states for which data have been made available.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad "declared support" to two-nation theory in 1937, followed by Jinnah three years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Congress 'promises' cancellation of Adani power project: Jharkhand elections

Counterview Desk
Pointing out that people's issues take a backseat in Jharkhand's 2019 assembly elections, the state's civil rights organization, the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, a coalition of activists and people’s organisations, has said that political parties have largely ignored in their electoral manifestos the need to implement the fifth schedule of the Constitution in a predominantly tribal district.

Hindutva founders 'borrowed' Nazi, fascist idea of one flag, one leader, one ideology

By Shamsul Islam*
With the unleashing of the reign of terror by the RSS/BJP rulers against working-class, peasant organizations, women organizations, student movements, intellectuals, writers, poets and progressive social/political activists, India also witnessed a series of resistance programmes organized by the pro-people cultural organizations in different parts of the country. My address in some of these programmes is reproduced here... 
***  Before sharing my views on the tasks of artists-writers-intellectuals in the times of fascism, let me briefly define fascism and how it is different from totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is political concept, a dictatorship of an individual, family or group which prohibits opposition in any form, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is also described as authoritarianism.
Whereas fascism, while retaining all these repressive characteristics, also believes in god-ordained superiority of race, cultur…

Ex-World Bank chief economist doubts spurt in India's ease of doing business rank

By Rajiv Shah
This is in continuation of my previous blog where I had quoted from a commentary which top economist Prof Kaushik Basu had written in the New York Times (NYT) a little less than a month ago, on November 6, to be exact. He recalled this article through a tweet on November 29, soon after it was made known that India's growth rate had slumped (officially!) to 4.5%.

With RSS around, does India need foreign enemy to undo its democratic-secular fabric?

By Shamsul Islam*
Many well-meaning liberal and secular political analysts are highly perturbed by sectarian policy decisions of RSS/BJP rulers led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, especially after starting his second inning. They are vocal in red-flagging lynching incidents, policies of the Modi government on Kashmir, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the demand for 'Bharat Ratna' to Savarkar who submitted 6-7 mercy petitions to the British masters (getting remission of 40 years out of 50 years' sentence), and the murder of constitutional norms in Goa, Karnataka and now in Maharashtra.

Post-Balakot, danger that events might spiral out of control is 'greater, not less'

By Tapan Bose*
The fear of war in South Asia is increasing. Tensions are escalating between India and Pakistan after the Indian defence minister's announcement in August this year that India may revoke its current commitment to only use nuclear weapons in retaliation for a nuclear attack, known as ‘no first use’. According to some experts who are watching the situation the risk of a conflict between the two countries has never been greater since they both tested nuclear weapons in 1998.

Rushdie, Pamuk, 260 writers tell Modi: Aatish episode casts chill on public discourse

Counterview Desk
As many as 260 writers, journalists, artists, academics and activists across the world, including Salman Rushdie, British Indian novelist, Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature, and Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet and novelist, have called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the decision to strip British Indian writer Aatish Taseer of his overseas Indian citizenship.

Worrying signs in BJP: Modi, Shah begin 'cold-shouldering' Gujarat CM, party chief

By RK Misra*
The political developments in neighbouring Maharashtra where a Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government assumed office has had a trickle down effect in Gujarat with both the ruling BJP and the Congress opposition going into revamp mode.

'Favouring' tribals and ignoring Adivasis? Behind coercion of India's aborigines

By Mohan Guruswamy*
Tribal people account for 8.2% of India’s population. They are spread over all of India’s States and Union Territories. Even so they can be broadly classified into three groupings. The first grouping consists of populations who predate the Indo-Aryan migrations. These are termed by many anthropologists as the Austro-Asiatic-speaking Australoid people.