Public Distribution System
Clamor For Transformation
• Public Distribution System (PDS) is an Indian food security system. Established
by the Government of India under Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food, and Public
Distribution and managed jointly with state governments in India, it distributes
subsidized food and non-food items to India's poor. Major commodities distributed
include staple food grains, such as wheat, rice, sugar, and kerosene, through a
network of Public Distribution Shops, also known as Ration shops established in
several states across the country. Food Corporation of India a Government-owned
corporation, procures and maintains the Public Distribution System.
• In terms of both coverage and public expenditure, it is considered to be the most
important food security network. However, the food grains supplied by the ration
shops are not enough to meet the consumption needs of the poor or are of inferior
quality. The average level of consumption of PDS grains in India is only 1 kg per
person / month. The PDS has been criticized for its urban bias and its failure to serve
the poorer sections of the population effectively. The targeted PDS is costly and gives
rise to much corruption in the process of extricating the poor from those who are less
needy. Today, India has the largest stock of grain in the world besides China, the
government spends Rs.750 billion ($13.6 billion) per year, almost 1 percent of GDP,
yet 21% remain undernourished.
Flaws In The System
• The Planning commission In A report in 2005 stated:
• For Every Rs.4 Spent On The PDS Rs.1 Reaches The Poor
• 57% Of The PDS grain Does not reach The Intended People.
• So If We try To Diagnose the Illness In The System The Following Can Be Seen
• Lack Of Transparency And accountability
• BPL families not having Access to Ration cards.
• Errors in categorization of the People as BPL AND APL.
• Dubious Ration cards.
• Illegal Storage By Fair price shops.
• Illiteracy Among the BPL families in regard with the optimum Grain That They Are supposed to receive
• Lack Of Storage Facilities
• Lack Of Monitoring Agencies.
Suggestions For Reformation
• Accountability And Transparency.
• Facility Of Lodging Complaint Against The Sales Person At Fair Price Shops.
• Putting A check on Multiple Card Holders.
• Checkpoints At State barriers
• Feedback Oppurtunities at fair price shops
• Providing Basic knowledge To the poor.,
• Shortening the supply chain
• Opening of Godowns.
Steps Already Taken By the
• Some significant directions the states will have to comply with are:
• * All families eligible for a ration-card should be given one within the next three months while periodic checking to weed out bogus
ration-cards will have to be carried out.
• * The order calls upon the state governments to identify below poverty line (BPL) families as also the poorest of the poor within three
• * Dates regarding distribution of food grains to various links in the PDS chain have been detailed. those running PDS outlets have to
furnish monthly details to the district authorities of the food grains allocated to them, the quantity sold and the remaining quantity. the
latter in turn will provide these details to the state government which will then forward them to the centre.
• * The order has also tried to address the problem of irregular practices by making it mandatory for them to issue ration to card-holders
at fixed prices, display information regarding stocks availability and retail issue prices among other things.
• * State governments will have to ensure regular monitoring of PDS
outlets and will have the power to inspect or summon records and documents required for examination.
• * With frequent complaints of the poor quality of food grains, the order directs the state governments to ``ensure that stocks of
essential commodities under PDS as issued from FCI godowns are not replaced by stocks of inferior quality during storage, transit or any
other stage till delivery to the ration-card-holder.''
IIM Shillong A step Ahead
• This proposed system, called the Assam State Civil Supplies Corporation, is designed to be an efficient
management method that will eliminate 'leakages' and 'inefficiencies' of the legacy system. To be set up on a
private-public-partnership mode, this novel system will have a two-tier structure consisting of an initiating
corporate body and an executing company.
• "The model for the corporation is based on Indian kibbutz, a new-age government-initiated community business
organization, where the communities would love to take part, invest and reap the benefits wherever they may be.
It's the most robust model across the globe. Unfortunately, no one thought of replicating the same," said a
faculty member of IIM.
• Gogoi said the proposed system should be robust, vibrant and able to withstand pressure
• "The design concept by IIM- Shillong seems to be innovative. It's good that the best mod
• el has been adopted for hassle-free implementation down to the producers' level," he said. The chief minister
stressed that the corporation should be able to generate its own resources to sustain domestic dynamics.
• Sources said the concept of the corporation was designed after a series of meetings which the faculty members
of IIM-Shillong had with senior government officials.
• The IIM faculty members explained to the chief minister that they have designed the structure in such a way that
it would ensure smooth transition from the legacy system to the new age PDS.
Visualize The Misery
• Hunger Situation In India
Rot In The System
The government said out of the 60 million tones of food grains distributed in the country in 2010-11 though the Public Distribution
System (PDS), only 0.061 lakh tones were reported to be damaged.
• The total damage reported during 2010-11 was 0.061 lakh tones, out of the total 60 million tonnes distributed in the country in 2010-11,
Minister of State for Foods and Public Distribution K V Thomas said in Rajya Sabha.
• At least 17,546 tonnes of food grains was damaged between 2009-10 and July 2012 in Food Corporation of India (FCI) godowns,
an RTI reply has revealed at a time when Parliament looks poised to pass the food security bill.
The revelation exposes how government is struggling on two counts - safe storage of foodgrains and inadequate storage facilities for
food items. On Friday, food processing minister Sharad Pawar had told Parliament that inadequate storage infrastructure resulted in
wastage of fruits, grains and vegetables worth Rs 44,000 crore every year.
In an RTI reply to activist Dev Ashish Bhattacharya, FCI provided details of damaged foodgrains in its godowns in 23 states and Union
Territories. Though the data shows year-wise decline in damage of foodgrains, it shows how government's major grain procuring arm
has a tough task at hand. During the said period, the maximum loss was of wheat at around 7,185 tonnes while 6,905 tonnes of rice
was also damaged.
"As per World Health Organization guidelines, a minimum of 250 gm food grains is required per person per day to survive. The
cumulative loss could have fed at least seven crore people," Bhattacharya said. He added the government should provide three months
grain at a time to each family so that they can store at home rather than storing them at FCI godowns where these get damaged.
The details provided by FCI shows that West Bengal reported higher percentage of damaged rice between 2009-10 and 2011-12 with a
loss of around 2,300 tonnes. In Punjab, the loss reduced drastically from 2,223 tonnes in 2009-10 to only 37 tonnes during 2011-12.
On Friday, the opposition had cornered the government for its failure to protect procured foodgrains. BJP MP Naresh Gujral had said that
till June, 12.5 million tonnes of food grains was lying covered in the outside in Punjab with another 6 million tonnes lying in the open in
Haryana. In Punjab, 2.5 million tonnes of this was just lying in the fields.