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One Nation, One Ration Card

  May 12, 2020

One Nation, One Ration Card

News: Bihar, Punjab, UP, Himachal and Daman and Diu have been integrated with the 'one nation, one ration card' scheme

What is One nation, One ration card scheme?

  1. Under the 'one nation, one ration card' initiative, eligible beneficiaries would be able to avail their entitled food grains under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) from any fair-price shop in the country. The scheme was announced in June last year.
  2. On January 1 this year, 12 states were integrated among each other and now 17 states are on integrated management of the public distribution system (PDS), also called ration shops/fair price shops, he added.
  3. About 60 crore beneficiaries from 17 states and UTs can benefit from the ration card portability and they can purchase the subsidised foodgrains using the existing ration cards.

The standard format of 'one nation, one ration card'

  1. A standard format for ration card has been prepared after taking into account the format used by different states.
  2. For national portability, the state governments have been asked to issue the ration card in the bi-lingual format, wherein besides the local language, the other language could be Hindi or English.
  3. The states have also been told to have a 10-digit standard ration card number, wherein the first two digits will be state code and the next two digits will be running ration card numbers.
  4. Besides this, a set of another two digits will be appended with ration card number to create unique member IDs for each member of the household in a ration card.

Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Jharkhand and Tripura are 12 states where ration card portability has been implemented.

Mains questions:

  1. Internal Migration provides huge opportunities for Demographic dividend of India and also poses various challenges for the government. Elaborate. 

Larger issue -- Management of Internal Migration

  1. Enforcement of Minimum wages legislation
  2. Portability of PDS-- One Nation One Ration Card
  3. Schooling of migrant children(?)
  4. Health benefits portability: Ayushman Bharat
  5. Ease of Remittances: Jan Dhan, UPI, Wallets etc
  6. Security, Voice and representation in the host society(?)
  7. Cheap Accommodation, Promotion of Rental Housing(?)
  8. Cheap transport to back Home: Antyodaya Express Trains
  9. Skilling Challenge turning unskilled migrants to semi-skilled/ skilled workers(?)

India’s real economic dynamo: A silent force that brings in 2% of GDP

Context: Over the last 40 years, India has seen the largest internal migration that any country has witnessed in any era. Even on conservative assumptions, India’s 100 million internal migrants are sending ‘home’ vast sums of money, eight times larger than the Government of India’s healthcare and education budgets combined.

Internal Migration: India’s biggest intangible Asset

  1. Over the last 40 years, India has arguably seen the world’s greatest internal migration seen in any country and in any era – greater (both in absolute numbers and relative to the broader population) even than the westward migration of people which created the United States in the 19th century. 
  2. As per India’s 2017 Economic Survey, internal migration accounts for 100 million people in India i.e. nearly one-fifth of India’s labour force.
  3. Chinmay Tumbe says in his excellent book India Moving: A History of Migration, “In 2011, a quarter of India’s urban population was enumerated as being migrants…”
  4. In fact, India’s internal migratory workforce is nearly four times larger than the more celebrated and obviously more prosperous Indian diaspora spread around the world.

The economic impact of internal migration

Context: The rise in internal migration in India – basically the movement of vast numbers of people from the impoverished North and East of the country to the more prosperous south and West – accelerated sharply post-1991 as economic liberalisation created heightened incentives for workers to move. The economic impact of this migration has been enormous.

From Gujrat-Kerala to MP/UP/Bihar

  1. The minimum wage in most of the Western and Southern Indian states is around Rs 15,000 per month. Even if we assume that the average migrant worker is working at a wage of Rs 10,000 per month (due to employers who pay them in cash and keep them in black economy), total earnings of India’s internal migrant workers is around $170 billion per annum i.e. around 6 per cent of India’s GDP. 
  2. Assuming further that these workers are sending home (to Northern and Eastern India) around one-third of these earnings, it implies that nearly 2 per cent of India’s GDP is being transferred from the most prosperous states in the country to the least prosperous.
  3. Based on the Union Budget 2019 documents, the Government of India’s budgeted spend on healthcare plus education is around Rs 150,000 crore or $22 billion i.e. less than 1 per cent of GDP! 
  4. From Agricultural Labour to Construction site
  5. Internal migration has made the Indian unskilled labour market highly responsive to economic signals. Seasonal migration for agricultural activities where people begin to migrate outside for work, usually between November and April. 
  6. These are India’s most vulnerable migration stream affecting 5% of households and over 10 million migrants. 
  7. Relatively poorer and landless households, STs and SCs are over-represented in this form of migration. 
  8. One-third of the seasonal migrants in India work in the construction sector, the fifth work in agricultural activities and one-sixth in manufacturing activities.