The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is a method of calculating the hunger levels and malnutrition at a global, national, regional level. The GHI is measured every year. According to the GHI reports 2019, India ranked 102 out of 117 countries. Almost 21% of the Indian population lives below the poverty line. This affects the workforce of the nation and hinders the overall economic growth. Thus, the provision of subsidized food is necessary for survival and human development.
The Public Distribution System is a mechanism adopted by the Government Of India to fight the problem of food scarcity faced by a large population of our country. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and its statutory body- Food Corporation of India (FCI) is responsible for the distribution of food grain in India. FCI regulates the inflow and outflow of the annual agriculture produce and prevents any losses.
The following initiatives have been taken by them to make this system more effective:
- Online allocation of food grains to State/UT/Fair price shops through Annavitran Portal www.annavitran.nic.in: This ensures the end to end computerization of supply chain management.
- Global Positioning System (GPS) and Radio-frequency identification (RFID): based on a real-time vehicle tracking system, they are used to track the trucks used for the transportation of subsidized food grains. It curbs the menace of diversion of subsidized food grains in the black market.
- Electronic Point of Sale (ePoS) devices being installed at Fair Price Shops (FPSs): Fair price shops are the distribution points of the food and non-food items. These devices help in the tracking of food distribution in a more systematic manner.
- Aadhar seeding and Aadhar based authentication- can be used to remove the duplicate/dead/ghost beneficiaries to check the wastage of food grains and to make sure that it goes to the needy people.
- Integrated management of PDS (IM-PDS)/Interoperability/One Nation One Ration card – All the ration cards connected to a centralized server will permit the beneficiaries to buy monthly ration from any state. This will be useful for the migrant workers, especially after seeing their plight during the COVID 19 pandemic.
- Installing Toll-free helplines in various states and UTs: This will enable in receiving grievances from the targeted population. The public will be better connected to the system and hopefully be satisfied too.
Leakage, corruption, and diversion of subsidized food have always been an “Achilles heel” for India. Corrupt officials often overlook the loopholes present within the system. So, the government has taken the above mentioned technological steps to improve the system and make it more robust and transparent. This will ultimately lead to the fulfillment of the sustainable development goal (SDG) of ‘Zero Hunger BY 2030’.