PDS is an instrument to alleviate poverty and ensuring nutritional security. Critically evaluate.
Food security in India is ensured by a network of fair-price shops set across the country under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, which provides cereals and other items to 50% of the urban and 75% of the rural population at a subsidized price.
PDS as a poverty alleviation tool:
- PDS was started in the 1950s on a universal basis and was revamped in 1970. Targetted PDS started in 1997.
- Under targetted PDS, there are three categories
- BPL – 50% cost is borne by FCI.
- Antyodaya households – provide cereals at a cost of Rs. 2 per kg for wheat and Rs. 3 per kg for rice.
- APL – at a full economic cost.
- Some states like Tamilnadu follow a universal PDS scheme.
- Some states also provide non-food items, along with food items through fair-price shops.
PDS for ensuring nutritional security:
- Pulses provided through FPS are an excellent source of protein for vegetarians.
- Regional and local cereals are also provided by a few states.
- Distribution of fortified cereals has been taken up on a pilot project basis in some states.
- It has proved to be a game-changer for improving maternal health.
PDS has been successful in achieving its objectives, however, it still suffers from various challenges:
- The performance of India on the Global Hunger Index has been poor.
- There is excessive focus on wheat & rice, rather than other nutritional crops like millets and pulses.
- Ghost ration cards.
Integrated management of PDS as suggested by Parth Mukhopadhyay committee and rollout of one nation one ration card is an excellent step in the right direction.