Looking at Regulatory Mechanism of India's Public Distribution System Through Food Security Lens
8 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2016 Last revised: 5 Jan 2017
Date Written: September 30, 2016
India’s largest food security programme i.e. Public Distribution System (PDS) is being governed and regulated by Public Distribution System (Control) order, 2001 which was subsequently amended in the years 2004 and 2015. In 2015 it transformed into Targeted Public Distribution System (Control) order. Providing legality to such a gigantic programme is intended for its effective implementation. Public Distribution System aims to provide food to the population below poverty line at highly subsidised prices. This Indian Government’s prestigious programme involves a massive population, highest food subsidy bills to country’s exchequer. This enforcement has a huge role in providing fair stake to food to every poor person in the country. This order has provisions for supply and distribution, price control and fair access to food grains. It resulted in availability of food grains to millions of poor people at an affordable price. However, there was a change in philosophy with respect to provisioning of food grains with the enactment of the National Food Security Act 2013, since before this Act the supply of food grains under PDS was treated as a welfare measure only. After this legislation, the beneficiaries secured a legal right to get the food at a fair price through the PDS. Presently in most of the states the PDS is being regulated by both TPDS (Control) Order, 2015 and National Food Security Act, 2013. However, it was criticised for its inefficient beneficiary identification like higher error of inclusion of ineligible beneficiaries and exclusion of eligible beneficiaries and leakages in the entire supply chain and quality of food grains. This paper examines different provisions of the regulatory mechanisms that are governing the PDS in food security angle. It relies on secondary research along with, focus group discussions with the stakeholders. It will be discussed in detail with case study of Indian state of Telangana. Section 3(1) of NFSA ensures five kilograms of food grains per person per month which definitely meet the carbohydrate requirement of the population. However, it may not ensure nutritional security because the poor are not entitled for the protein diet. It is statutory to cover up to 75% of rural population and 50% of urban population under NFSA. In the instances like war, flood, severe drought where the states are not in a position to supply food grains, this act has a provision to provide food subsidy allowance which indirectly ensures food security to the poor. Digitization of all the PDS beneficiaries, “Aadhaar” seeding, end to end computerization of PDS would reduce the leakages in the system which indirectly benefits the poor in accessing the right amount of food to which they are entitled to.
Keywords: digitization; food security; public distribution; regulatory mechanism; supply chain
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