One Nation One Ration Card Scheme

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution rolled out a pilot scheme titled, One Nation One Ration Card Scheme in four states on a pilot basis in 2019. 12 states were added on 1st January 2020. It was reported by the Central Government that about 86% beneficiaries under the NFSA were brought under the One Nation One Ration Card plan.

Another recent change is with regards to food security of migrant workers. In this scheme, beneficiaries can lift their entitled foodgrains from any electronic point of sale (ePoS) enabled FPS in the country through portability. “Portability gives that choice, while at the same time enabling the family back home to draw the remainder of the eligible ration,” the government explained.

As of June 2021, four States/UTs of Assam, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and West Bengal are yet to be bought under the ONOR scheme. The aim of the scheme is to ensure hassle-free delivery of subsidized food grains to all migratory beneficiaries anywhere in the country through nation-wide portability under National Food Security Act (NFSA.)

The scheme is one of the important government schemes for the eligible beneficiaries under NFSA. Read the significance of one nation one ration card for UPSC exam preparation.

One Nation One Ration Card – UPSC Notes:- Download PDF Here

What is One Nation One Ration Card?

It is a national ration card that will enable migrant workers and their families to access the public distribution system (PDS) benefits from any fair price shops across the country.

The characteristics of the ONORC are:

  1. Existing ration cards will be turned as one nation one ration card.
  2. It will be a universal ration card allotted to each beneficiary registered under NFSA.
  3. Using the ONORC, a beneficiary who migrates from one place to another can buy subsidized food grains from the fair price shop located in the destination city regardless of the origin of the beneficiaries.
  4. The beneficiaries will be identified through biometric authentication on electronic Point of Sale (ePoS) devices. These devices will be installed at each fair price shop.
  5. The national portability will work using the:
    • Integrated Management of Public Distribution System (IM-PDS) portal – It will provide the technological platform for the ration cards portability.
    • Annavitran portal – It will host the data of the food grains distribution through ePoS devices within a state. This will help a beneficiary to access subsidized food grains within a state (inter-district.)
  6. Aadhar Cards will be seeded with ration cards which will help beneficiaries get the ration using the same ration card.

Read more about Aadhar usage in PDS in the linked article.

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Objectives of One Nation One Ration Card Scheme

In simple words, the ONORC will bring the following changes:

  1. Reforms in the public distribution system.
  2. Access of food grains to each beneficiary.
  3. Integrating all the Indian states and UTs in the scheme by March 2021.

Salient Features of One Nation One Ration Card Scheme

  1. It is being implemented under the Integrated Management of PDS (IMPDS.)
  2. 65 crores beneficiaries are being covered under the ONORC scheme.
  3. 80 percent of beneficiaries registered under NFSA has been covered under the scheme.
  4. 25 states and UTs have been integrated into the scheme.
  5. 81 crores beneficiaries are reported to get the benefits of this scheme once all states/UTs will be integrated under the scheme.
  6. The government will come up with a helpline number to assist beneficiaries.

Benefits of the ONORC

The major benefit of the One Nation One Ration Card is as follows:

  • Those agile of the ONORC will receive subsidised food grain from any Fair Price Shop in the country, immensely benefitting migrants staying in different parts of the country.
  • With the ONORC, all the beneficiaries in one state can get the same fair rations in other states where the ration card was issued.
  • In case of any foul play, a beneficiary can switch to an alternative FPS almost immediately.
  • The scheme will be of benefit to women and other poorer sections of the society since social identity will be a strong factor in accessing PDS.
  • The ONORC will help in achieving the target of eliminating hunger by 2030, given the fact that it has been ranked 102 out of 17 in the Global Hunger Index.

Challenges regarding the Implementation of the One Nation One Ration Card

  • Exclusion Error: Once the PDS processes have been digitised through smart cards and Aadhar linking then leakages could be reduced, but there have been exclusion errors post Aadhar linking as of late.
  • Lack of Data: There is a shortage of data on the population moving to other cities to work. As such it becomes a difficult task in identifying the beneficiaries as they move to different locations.

Domicile-Based Social Sector Schemes: Along with the PDS most of the welfare schemes and food security measures were based on historic domicile-based access and restricted welfare and entitlements at their places of origin, thus negating any chance of non-native population from accessing such benefits.

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