- GS-3: Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations.
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
Aadhar related problems
Context: The Supreme Court recently asked the Centre to respond to allegations made in a PIL by a Dalit woman from Jharkhand that 3 crore ration cards have been cancelled in the country because of the insistence on Aadhaar linkage and biometric authentication.
Ever since Aadhaar-based biometric authentication was introduced in PDS, there have been numerous reports about
- People’s fingerprints not getting confirmed by the e-PoS device at the ration shop,
- Iris scanners not being there as backup
- Poor Internet connection forcing people to spend on another trip to the shop leading to loss of one day’s earnings
What has been the implication of such racancellation?
- Beneficiaries are denied foodgrains due to non-possession/production of an Aadhaar ID or because their Aadhaar biometric details didn’t match or on account of technical or server issues.
- As a result, the inaccessibility to food has caused starvation deaths
- These administrative weaknesses has affected the food & nutritional security of our nation
- 28% of those from ration-card-holding households, or over one in four households had indeed experienced a situation where they were denied foodgrains due to non-possession/production of Aadhar
- While in percentage terms this may not seem all that high a figure to some, in absolute terms (extrapolating to the general household population) it would be huge.
- Rural & Urban: Contrary to the notion that seeding and authentication problems are occurring mostly in remote areas, our data indicates that they are nearly of the same magnitude in villages and towns/cities
- Disproportionate impact on poor: In both rural and urban areas, the poorest were worst affected – 39% of households with a monthly income below Rs 2,000 said they were at some point denied PDS ration due to Aadhaar problems.
- Hindi States most impacted: In the Hindi belt — Bihar, Jharkhand, MP, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, UP and Uttarakhand -40% of RC-holding households reported a denial of ration due to Aadhaar issues compared to 20% households in the rest of the countr
- Data also suggests that the problem may be less due to non-possession of Aadhaar and more due to biometric authentication and server issues, as respondents from 95% of RC-holding households in the ‘Hindi’ belt did report having Aadhaar.