ONORC Scheme: Grains Of Transformation

Source: The post is based on the article “Grains of Transformation” published in The Times of India on 25th August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 Issues of Buffer Stocks and Food Security;

Relevance: One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC) Scheme

News:  In the recent past, the Central government had launched the One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC) scheme which is a high-impact welfare scheme in the public policy realm.

Need for ONORC Scheme

In India, about 6Cr people migrate inter-state and 8Cr migrate intra-state seasonally.

Earlier, when such workers went to cities to work, they lost their entitlement for subsidised grain as they were tied to the fair price shop (FPS) back home.

Further, if these migrants were registered at an FPS in a city, then their family members were forced to buy food grain at a much higher market rates at their native place.

About the ONORC

It allows the PDS beneficiaries freedom to buy heavily subsidised grains from any FPS in the country. For example, it enables the Indian migrants living in different parts of India, to buy PDS ration from FPS located anywhere in India.

Read more: One Nation One Ration Card: Good intention but implementation may be difficult
What are the implications of the One-Nation-One-Ration-Card (ONORC) scheme?

(1) Indian workers will become self-reliant. This plan is part of India’s Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.

(2) This has ended the monopoly of the neighbourhood FPS. Earlier, beneficiaries had no choice but to go to a particular FPS. Thus, shop owners commanded a captive market and had no incentive to maintain quality. This has led to following

a) ONORC gives every beneficiary, not just migrants, the choice to buy from another FPS if it is selling better quality grains and providing better service.

b) ONORC has induced a fierce competition between the Fair Price Shops (FPSs). The seller has competition from over 5 lakh shops across every state in the country. This will contribute to overall improvement in quality of goods and services delivery.

(3) Now, Crores of workers, daily wagers, including urban poor such as rag pickers, street dwellers, temporary workers in the organised and unorganised sectors, and domestic workers are taking advantage of this pathbreaking scheme.

What were the reasons behind the success of the ONORC scheme?

(1) The Prime Minister has pushed for digital India. It has been a big enabler for the country. Therefore, 100% of ration cards are digitised and electronic point of sale devices has been installed in more than 5. 3 lakh (99%) of FPSs across India.

(2) Various ministries and departments coordinated their efforts for strategic outreach and communication to make people aware about the ONORC scheme in India. For example,

(a) The government undertook a radio-based campaign in Hindi and 10 other regional languages using FM and community radio stations.

(b) Announcements and displays were arranged in railway stations and public buses, in order to give the PM’s message to migrant workers who travel in trains.

What should be done to improve the ONORC Scheme further?

The Department of Food and Public Distribution launched a ‘Common Registration Facility’ on pilot basis for 11 states/UTs to include more beneficiaries under NFSA.

Further, all the Public policy should be formulated in a manner that benefits the poorest of the poor and the most marginalised sections of Indian society.

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