New Delhi ,
The Public Distribution System (PDS) has been a crucial lifeline for millions of people in India who rely on subsidized food grains for their daily sustenance. The government’s vision of ensuring food security for all has been largely dependent on the success of the PDS. The system has been under constant scrutiny, with concerns raised over the leakages and inefficiencies in the system. The Department of Food and Public Distribution has been working tirelessly to strengthen the PDS and ensure that it delivers on its objectives.
The recent two-day Chintan Shivir held by the Department of Food and Public Distribution saw the participation of nearly 100 officers and officials from the department, along with eminent subject experts. The objective of the Shivir was to break the barriers between the hierarchies and allow the free flow of innovative ideas that could be processed further for the benefit of the larger public. The Shivir focused on four themes, namely, enhancing the efficiency of the supply chain, leveraging PDS for nutrition security and climate adaptation, increasing the customer-centricity of the PDS, and improving the overall governance of the PDS.
The Shivir was inaugurated by the Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and Rural Development, Ms. Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, who appreciated the participants for their contributions and insights in enhancing the department and its work. The officers were motivated to act upon the ideas that emerged during the Shivir and advised to bring them into practice to the maximum possible extent to ensure the department’s vision of food security.
One of the eminent subject experts, Shri R.S Sodhi, shared his years of experience with Amul and provided deep insights on creating an efficient supply chain. Professor Ashok Gulati opined on leveraging PDS for nutrition security and climate adaptation, and Sh. S. Sivakumar with his intricate knowledge of agribusiness provided insights on increasing the customer-centricity of the PDS. The experts’ insights and ideas would be crucial in the Department’s efforts to strengthen the PDS.
The PDS has been plagued with inefficiencies and leakages, leading to concerns over the system’s effectiveness in delivering food security to the needy. The Department has been taking several steps to address these concerns and strengthen the system. One of the crucial steps taken by the Department was the implementation of the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA), which aimed to provide subsidized food grains to nearly two-thirds of the population.
Under the NFSA, the Department has been working on the digitization of the PDS to eliminate leakages and ensure transparency in the system. The digitization of the PDS has helped in identifying and removing duplicate and fake ration cards, ensuring that the benefits of the system reach the intended beneficiaries. The Department has also been working on the installation of Point of Sale (POS) devices at Fair Price Shops (FPS) to automate the distribution process and eliminate manual intervention.
Another crucial step taken by the Department to strengthen the PDS has been the introduction of the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) system. Under the DBT system, the subsidies are directly transferred to the beneficiaries’ bank accounts, eliminating intermediaries and ensuring that the benefits reach the intended beneficiaries. The DBT system has helped in reducing leakages and increasing the transparency of the system.
The Department has also been working on the diversification of the commodities distributed through the PDS to ensure that the beneficiaries receive a balanced and nutritious diet. The introduction of fortified food grains, such as fortified wheat flour and fortified rice, has helped in addressing the issue of malnutrition among the beneficiaries.