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Public Distribution System (PDS)

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Reading articles on General Awareness will help aspirants to achieve Mission CAT 2012, with this view we at MBA Rendezvous have started series of articles on General Awareness. 

Today you will read article on “PDS “ 

Public Distribution System (PDS) is actually a national food security system, established by the Government of India. PDS lies under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and is managed jointly with the state governments in India. Under PDS subsidized food and non-food items are distributed to India's poor at a very reasonable price. Major commodities that are distributed to consumers include staple of food grains such as wheat, rice, sugar, and kerosene. 
 
The entire distribution process is done through a network of Fair Price Shops (FPS) established in several states throughout the country. Food Corporation of India (a PSU) distributes food grains to FPS across the country, which are managed by state governments. Currently there are about 4.99 lakh Fair Price Shops (FPS) across India.
 
In terms of coverage and public expenditure, PDS is considered to be the most important food security network. However the staple of food grains or other products supplied by the ration shops are not enough to meet the consumption needs of the poor and are also of inferior quality. It is a matter of fact that the average consumption of PDS grains in India at the max is only 1 kg per person/month. Hence, PDS is criticized for its failure to serve the poor sections of the nation effectively.
 
Public Distribution of essential commodities had been in existence in India since the inter-war period. PDS, with its focus on distribution of food grains in urban scarcity areas, began in 1960 due to critical food shortages. Since then PDS has been substantially contributing for controlling of rise in food grain’s prices and ensuring access of food to all the consumers. As the national agricultural production grew after Green Revolution, the outreach of PDS was extended to tribal blocks and areas of high incidence of poverty in the 1970s and 1980s.
 
The Public Distribution System (PDS), over a period of time has evolved as a system of management of scarcity and as a system for distribution of food grains at affordable prices. It is very clear that PDS has become an important part of Government’s policy for containment of food economy in the country. PDS is supplemental in nature and is not intended to make available all the requirements of the commodities to a household or a section of the society.
 
Both the Central and State Governments are responsible for regulating the PDS. While the Central Government has the responsibility for procurement, storage, transportation and bulk allocation of food grains, the State Governments is responsible for distributing the commodities to the consumers through the established network of Fair Price Shops (FPSs)
 
State governments are also responsible for allocation and identification of families below poverty line, supervision & monitoring the functioning of FPSs and issue of ration cards. Under PDS scheme, each BPL (Below Poverty Line) family is eligible for 35 kg of rice or wheat every month, while an APL (Above Poverty Line) household is entitled to 15 kg of food grains on a monthly basis. Hence, many people consider PDS as a biased scheme.
 
PDS, till 1992, was a general entitlement scheme for all consumers without any specific target. Hence, Revamped Public Distribution System (RPDS) was launched in June 1992 in 1775 blocks throughout the country. However, many say that the targeted PDS is more costly and gives rise to rampant corruption. The process of extricating the poor from those who are not poor is also quite complicated and inefficient.
 
Despite such a provision, it is a matter of national disgrace that 126 million people die due to hunger in India. The circumstances persist for decades because, for generations they continue to be under poverty as they are unable to break the vicious circle. To earn a meal for a day, family take up menial jobs in hazardous work environment that makes them vulnerable to dreadful diseases.
 
That leads to the very fact that there are certainly some loop holes in PDS. Firstly there are so many poor people who don’t have a ration card without which they can’t avail PDS. If at all some poor people have a ration card they get inferiority quality of food grain due to some mercenary dealers who replace good supplies received from the F.C.I (Food Corporation of India) with inferior stock. Moreover many FPS dealers resort to malpractice since they acquire little profit otherwise. Such a malpractice is rampant in the context of Kerosene oil. People are denied access to kerosene oil on the false grounds of shortage of stocks.
 
It has been more than 6 decades since we have gained Independence. Today, India’s GDP is 4th largest in the world, entire nation is witnessing an information and digital era. But unfortunately even after so many years of independence there are so many people who die out of hunger which is indeed a sorry state and the government must do something to achieve the objective of zero death due to starvation.
 
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