Ration card (India)

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Ration cards are an official document issued by state governments in India to households that are eligible to purchase subsidized food grain from the Public Distribution System (under the National Food Security Act). They also serve as a common form of identification for many Indians. [1]

Types of Ration Cards for the national food[edit]

Under the National Food Security Act, all state governments in India have to identify households that are eligible for purchasing subsidized food grain from the Public Distribution System and provide them with ration cards. There are two types of ration cards under NFSA[2]:

  • Priority ration card - priority ration cards are issued to households that meet the eligibility criteria set by their state government. Each priority household is entitled to 5 kilograms of food grain per member.
  • Antyodaya (AAY) ration cards are issued to "poorest of poor" households. Each AAY household is entitled to 35 kilograms of food grain.

Before the NFSA was enacted, there were three types of ration cards[3]:

  • Above Poverty Line (APL) ration cards that were issued to households living above the poverty line (as estimated by the Planning Commission). These households received 15 kilogram of food grain (based on availability).
  • Below Poverty Line (BPL) ration cards that were issued to households living below the poverty line. These households received 25-35 kilograms of food grain.
  • Antyodaya (AAY) ration cards that were issued to "poorest of poor" households. These households received 35 kilograms of food grain.

Application Process[edit]

Section 10 (1a and 1b) of the National Food Security Act requires states governments to identify households to be covered under priority and AAY categories within a year from the commencement of NFSA and place the list of identified eligible households in the public domain[2]. After the enactment of NFSA, all state governments developed a set of eligibility criteria to identify households for issuing ration cards. Based on this eligibility criteria, new ration cards were issued. In some states (such as Bihar and Madhya Pradesh), the state governments used existing data (such as the Socio-Economic Caste Census) to identify households and issue new ration cards. In other states (such as Chhattisgarh and Odisha), eligible households had to apply for new ration cards through a self-declaration process[4].

Problems[edit]

Many problems with the PDS ration system exist. There are millions of ineligible and fraudulent ration cards;[5] at the same time, millions of poor families have no ration card.[6][7] PDS shop owners in collusion with government officials divert the subsidized food supply and petroleum to the black market. Card numbers are inflated by those held under false or duplicate names, in the names of dead people, or by real but ineligible people.[8][9]

Steps to resolve problems[edit]

The Government of India is taking steps to prevent corruption, leakage and diversion of PDS rations.[10]

Aadhaar-enabled beneficiary[edit]

The bank accounts and ration cards of eligible beneficiaries are linked to their Aadhaar numbers. A bank account can be enabled as AeBA by seeding (linking) it with an Aadhaar number. Seeding makes mapping information stored on the NPCI payment gateway that facilitates the subsidy payment. Seeding helps identify genuine and eligible beneficiaries and prevents duplicate and non-existent persons from registering.[11] Users can link a bank account as self-service option through ATM kiosks, the Internet, bank websites, telephone, or by providing a copy of the Aadhaar letter to a bank.

Prior to Aadhaar, the issues plaguing and derailing social security programs in India were caused by corrupt officials and middlemen manipulating paper records and stand-alone databases of social security services. Due to lack of a unique identifier like Aadhaar, stand-alone databases cannot detect and eliminate duplicate or fraudulent beneficiaries. The most common modus operandi adopted to inflate the beneficiary list is by inserting duplicate entries, non-existent names, and the names of dead and non-eligible people. Attempts are then made to steal the social security benefits money, depriving genuine claimants.[12][13][14]

Aadhaar-enabled DBT[edit]

Aadhaar-enabled service delivery (AeSD) prevents corruption in retail by directly crediting benefit money into the beneficiary's bank account; this is called Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT). It eliminates middlemen and fraudulent, ineligible beneficiaries. Aadhaar saves billions of rupees of public money annually and enables poor people access to social security benefits.[9][15][16][17]

Various financial and other services are being Aadhaar-enabled, called Aadhaar-enabled Service Delivery (AeSD), in a phased manner.[18] By 1 January 2014, half of India (289 districts across various states) had been covered by DBT for subsidized LPG. By August 2013, 6.3 million duplicate LPG connections were detected by Aadhaar and were cancelled. The national government saved $1 billion on reduced imports by mid-2013.[19]

Aadhaar-enabled eligibility check[edit]

Applicant eligibility is checked by comparing the service delivery database with other databases. For example, PDS kerosene eligibility is checked by comparing the PDS database with the LPG database. The subsidy on kerosene allocation is reduced if the LPG subsidy is detected for that household.[20]

Ration card eligibility is cross-checked with other related, Aadhaar-linked databases. This approach is designed to improve the audit trail, add efficiency and prevent corruption. It results in direct benefit access for eligible people and annually saves billions of rupees from corruption.[13][21] Tangible benefits became visible from 2014; a report by UBS published in January 2014 showed Aadhaar DBT can save 1.2% of GDP.

The finance minister informed the Parliament during Vote on Account that as of 31 January 2014, under DBT ₹33 billion for 21 million LPG subsidy and ₹6.28 billion (628 crores) have been transferred for various social programs in 5.4 million transactions.[22][23]

e-Ration Card Services[edit]

With the help of e-Ration service, applicants can obtain ration cards and check their costs and food grain availability online. This will help end the corrupt practice of holding back rations and ensure cards reach the needy. Aadhaar card holders can apply for e-ration cards. The Department of Food Supplies and Consumer Affairs website provides eligibility details for the food security plan. This service was first introduced in Delhi. Later this has been followed by the state Govt of Tamil Nadu[24]

PDS ration in Andhra Pradesh[edit]

PDS rationing in districts of Andhra Pradesh can be an illustrative example of using modern technology to prevent retail corruption. Ration cards and corresponding bank accounts of the heads of families (HoF) have been linked with Aadhaar Numbers of family members.[10][25][26]

When a beneficiary buys rations from a PDS shop, their eligibility is authenticated through an Aadhaar KYC handheld device. The PDS computer system reads out the quantity eligibility and balance of each item in the local language. After purchase, the balance quantities for that month are read out. The buyer pays the open market rate to the PDS shop. A computer prints a receipt showing all items purchased, balance items, money paid and subsidy amount. The subsidy amount is credited to the beneficiary's bank account under the DBT program.[27][28] Because the PDS computer system is connected to a central server, beneficiaries can buy ration items from any PDS shop. The system is flexible and provides access and options to the public that was not seen before in PDS.[29]

Once all PDS shops in the state are linked to Aadhaar-enabled central server, beneficiaries can buy their rations anywhere in the state without changing their ration card, which will benefit migrant workers in the state.[citation needed] Similarly, subsidized LPG is linked with the Aadhaar Number and delivery is made at market rate. The subsidy amount is credited as DBT to the eligible beneficiary. Leakage and diversions of subsidized commodities provide no benefit to middlemen and retail corruption comes to a halt.[citation needed]

While submitting application for Ration Card in Andhra pradesh, Form D1 needs to be submitted to the nearest rationing office.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Department of Food and Public Distribution, India". Dfpd.nic.in. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  2. ^ a b Government of India. "National Food Security Act" (PDF). 
  3. ^ PRS Legislative Research. "Functioning of the Public Distribution System: An Analytical Report" (PDF). 
  4. ^ Puri, Raghav. "India's National Food Security Act: Early Experiences" (PDF). 
  5. ^ "30 lakh bogus ration cards could derail scheme". Timesofindia.indiatimes.com. 2013-07-02. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  6. ^ "They Face Extreme Poverty, but have APL Ration Cards". The New Indian Express. 2014-02-21. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  7. ^ "The right to ration cards | Business Standard Column". Business-standard.com. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  8. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 28 March 2014. 
  9. ^ a b "Aadhaar link needed to control subsidy leakage:". Timesofindia.indiatimes.com. 2014-01-19. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  10. ^ a b "Aadhaar Enabled Public Distribution System - A Case Study of East Godavari District" (PDF). Microsave.net. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  11. ^ "National Payments Corporation of India". Npci.org.in. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  12. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 May 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2014. 
  13. ^ a b "India News, Latest Sports, Bollywood, World, Business & Politics News". Articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  14. ^ "Aadhar helps weed out fake ration cards in Andhra". Indian Express. 2012-12-18. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  15. ^ "Chief secretary orders probe into Aadhaar discrepancies". Timesofindia.indiatimes.com. 2014-01-19. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 January 2014. Retrieved 28 March 2014. 
  17. ^ "Aadhaar to help eradicate poverty: World Bank chief | Business Standard News". Business-standard.com. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  18. ^ "India News, Latest Sports, Bollywood, World, Business & Politics News". Articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  19. ^ "Drive against cooking gas misuse helps government save $1 billion in imports". Timesofindia.indiatimes.com. 2013-10-14. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  20. ^ "India News, Latest Sports, Bollywood, World, Business & Politics News". Articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  21. ^ "Over 13 lakh fake old age pension beneficiaries - News18". Ibnlive.in.com. 2011-06-10. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  22. ^ "Vote on Account 2014: Govt committed to Aadhaar; Rs 3,370 cr transferred to LPG beneficiaries - timesofindia-economictimes". Articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  23. ^ "Government fully committed to Aadhaar". The Hindu. 2014-02-17. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  24. ^ "India's first e-ration card service launched by Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal : Art and Culture". Indiatoday.intoday.in. 2015-03-28. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  25. ^ "eINDIA 2012 » INDIA'S LARGEST ICT EVENT » Aadhaar Enabled Public Distribution System – Civil Supplies Department, Government of Andhra Pradesh". Eindia.eletsonline.com. 2012-10-22. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  26. ^ K. V. Kurmanath. "Aadhaar, PDS database link to help AP plug loopholes | Business Line". Thehindubusinessline.com. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  27. ^ "Andhra Pradesh links PDS to Aadhaar card". Deccanherald.com. 2012-09-08. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  28. ^ "Aadhaar-based PDS is yielding good results in East Godavari - ANDHRA PRADESH". The Hindu. 2012-10-05. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 
  29. ^ "Aadhaar-linked biometric device to replace plan for smart cards at ration shops". The Hindu. 2013-03-15. Retrieved 2016-06-11. 

External links[edit]