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'Aadhaar' to induce PDS reforms
UIDAI's working paper on the role of 'Aadhaar' (unique identification) number in Public Distribution System, envisions changes in the present system, making it more efficient and transparent.


The working paper outlines how the 12-digit 'Aadhaar' number can be leveraged to make the PDS more efficient and transparent.

The authority said it recognises that implementing the Right to Food is a priority today for the Indian government and the functioning of the PDS 'the mainstay of India's food programs' is critical to the implementation of Right to Food in India.

It said the government and the Department of Food and Public Distribution have pinpointed critical aspects of the PDS that need reform and for the program to function more effectively.

The paper said 'Aadhar' would address the critical aspects by exclusion of errors, diversions and leakages, managing foodgrain storage and ensuring timely distribution, effective accountability and monitoring and enabling community monitoring, mechanisms for grievance redressal and ensuring food security.

"Aadhaar enables remote, online biometric and demographic authentication of identity. Such Aadhaar-based authentication can take place in real time, and can even be performed through a mobile phone. Using Aadhaar for real-time identity verification at the Fair Price Shops (FPS), when beneficiaries collect their entitlements, will help governments verify that the benefits reached the person they were meant for," it said.

It added, one challenge would be to ensure that such authentication is carried out at the FPS and that the government can ensure that Aadhaar-based authentication is implemented by the FPS owner by linking future FPS allocations to authenticated off-take by beneficiaries.

The Authority said implementing such authentication while leveraging the portability of 'Aadhaar' can bring significant benefits.

"Today, beneficiaries in a particular block or district can collect their rations only from their allotted ration shop. However, since the Aadhaar would be recognised across ration outlets, the number would help residents collect entitlements from any FPS within the state.

"Governments would then replenish FPS stocks based on authentication-linked off-take, which would give them real-time information on how many beneficiaries collected their entitlements from which outlet," the paper said.

It said these two aspects of the Aadhaar-enabled system ? linking grain allocation to authenticated off-take and choice of FPS for the beneficiary ? would enable a significant shift from the present approach, where foodgrain allocations within the PDS are static, supply-led and divorced from beneficiary demand and choice.

Source: Governance Now