As we speak’s tackle to the nation was an try by the PM to place velocity on his subsequent venture of bringing India beneath one welfare umbrella.
In his sixth tackle to the nation because the coronavirus lockdown started in March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday introduced that India would transfer in the direction of a “one nation, one ration card” system to assist the poor throughout the nation. The announcement comes at a time when the NDA-ruled Centre has been going through flak for its alleged mismanagement of the exodus of visitor employees triggered by the lockdown.
“Within the coming occasions, for all of India, there might be one single ration card, which can profit these poor employees who’re dwelling in different states,” the prime minister mentioned.
The PM additionally introduced that the availability of free foodgrain to the poor, a scheme named PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) that started three months in the past, will proceed till the top of November. This may entail an extra expenditure of Rs 90,000 crore to supply free grain to round 80 crore individuals, along with the Rs 60,000 crore already spent.
“Till November 2020, we’ll proceed to supply 5 kilos of free rice or wheat in addition to one kilo of free chana (lentil) to feed 80 crore poor beneath the PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY),” the prime minister mentioned and added that Rs 31,000 crore have been deposited within the financial institution accounts of 20 crore individuals within the final three months.
The one nation, one ration card system will allow visitor employees and their households to entry PDS advantages from any honest value store (FPS) within the nation. Within the current system, a ration card holder can solely entry the PDS from the FPS in his or her locality. Underneath the brand new system, she or he should buy subsidised grain from an FPS in one other state too. This might be made attainable by biometric authentication on digital Level of Sale (ePoS) gadgets.
By January 2020, not less than 12 states joined the “one nation, one ration card” initiative; eight extra joined by June 1. Whereas saying her second trench of the Aatmanirbhar package deal, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had mentioned that 67 crore individuals might be coated beneath the coverage by August this yr. The federal government goals to make it pan-India by March subsequent yr.
As we speak’s tackle to the nation was an try by the PM to place velocity on his subsequent venture of bringing your complete nation beneath one welfare umbrella over which the central authorities would have a better say not like within the current system the place welfare disbursement is basically left to the states. The good misery felt by visitor employees instantly after the corona lockdown serves as a prepared rationale for bringing on this transfer at this jucnture. A single ration card system would scale back the possibilities of large-scale migration throughout a disaster just like the lockdown.
However there’ll, nevertheless, be points. Biometric authentication will clearly contain Aadhar, which has been beneath the scanner for points like privateness and pretend playing cards. An IndiaSpend report has famous 164 Aadhar-related frauds – together with cast IDs – between 2011 and 2018.
An IIM professor has additionally identified that biometric ePoS could cause neighborhood transmission of coronavirus. “The Centre should cease Aadhaar-based biometric authentication (ABBA) instantly due to the danger of transmission,” Professor Ritika Khera wrote in an article printed on a web site. She argued that ABBA would result in extra transaction prices and exclusion of the needy.
Then there’s the logistics of creating grain availability uniform throughout states, factoring for ups and downs, and the necessity to safe these provide traces and make them all-weather.
One other loophole is technical: A 2019 guideline acknowledged that solely half the subsidised grains may be purchased at one time. If a big migrant household is cut up in numerous areas, then issues can get tough. The poor connectivity and protection of ePoS in states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh – huge supply swimming pools of migration – would hamper the noble intentions of a transportable ration card.
The problem additionally brings the difficulty of federalism into query. PDS is a concurrent topic; the Centre is primarily related to sustaining the Meals Company of India warehouses, whereas states are solely answerable for figuring out eligible households, ration playing cards and supervising FPSs. Within the new system, states internet hosting migrants – like Gujarat or Maharashtra – will face extra burden of feeding them. As well as, inter-state migration knowledge is poorly maintained in India. The Centre may flip into an arbitrator, making the Union authorities extra highly effective.
The repeated failure of the Centre to launch states’ GST dues on time and the monetary burden because of the lockdown doesn’t assist issues. As per the GST Act, the states might be compensated for income losses till 2022. Nevertheless, poor tax collections have solely piled up the dues whereas states look in the direction of the Centre for aid. A 2019 analysis steered that states will face a Rs 1.2 lakh income hole after the five-year interval is over.
With the lockdown straining the state governments and GST figures prone to take a success, the fiscal weakening of states is prone to proceed. On this context, the PM speaking about rising spending beneath the PMGKAY solely pointed in the direction of the tightening of Centre’s grip over welfarism.