Ration card (India)

Ration cards are an official document issued by state governments in India to households that are eligible to purchase subsidised food grain from the Public Distribution System under the National Food Security Act (NFSA). They also serve as a common form of identification for many Indians.[1]

Under the NFSA, all state governments in India have to identify households that are eligible for purchasing subsidised food grain from the Public Distribution System and provide them with ration cards. There are two types of ration cards under NFSA:[2]

  • Priority Household (PHH) ration cards are issued to households that meet the eligibility criteria set by their state government. Each priority household is entitled to 5 kilograms of food grain per member per month.
  • Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) ration cards are issued to "poorest of poor" households. Each AAY household is entitled to 35 kilograms of food grain per month.

Before the NFSA was enacted, there were three types of ration cards:[3]

  • Above Poverty Line (APL) ration cards that were issued to households living above the poverty line (as estimated by the Planning Commission). These households received 15 kilogram of food grain (based on availability).
  • Below Poverty Line (BPL) ration cards that were issued to households living below the poverty line. These households received 25-35 kilograms of food grain.
  • Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) ration cards that were issued to "poorest of poor" households. These households received 35 kilograms of food grain.

Application ProcessEdit

Section 10 (1a and 1b) of the National Food Security Act requires states governments to identify households to be covered under priority and AAY categories within a year from the commencement of NFSA and place the list of identified eligible households in the public domain.[2] After the enactment of NFSA, all state governments developed a set of eligibility criteria to identify households for issuing ration cards. Based on this eligibility criteria, new ration cards were issued. In some states (such as Bihar and Madhya Pradesh), the state governments used existing data (such as the Socio-Economic Caste Census) to identify households and issue new ration cards. In other states (such as Chhattisgarh and Odisha), eligible households had to apply for new ration cards through a self-declaration process.[4]

Fake ration cardsEdit

Many problems with the PDS ration system exist. There are millions of ineligible and fraudulent ration cards;[5] at the same time, millions of poor families have no ration card.[6][7] PDS shop owners in collusion with government officials divert the subsidized food supply and petroleum to the black market. Card numbers are inflated by those held under false or duplicate names, in the names of dead or fake people .[8][9]

Aadhaar-enabled beneficiaryEdit

The bank accounts and ration cards of eligible beneficiaries are linked to their Aadhaar numbers. A bank account can be enabled as AeBA by seeding (linking) it with an Aadhaar number. Seeding makes mapping information stored on the NPCI payment gateway that facilitates the subsidy payment. Seeding helps identify genuine and eligible beneficiaries and prevents duplicate and non-existent persons from registering.[10] Users can link a bank account as self-service option through ATM kiosks, the Internet, bank websites, telephone, or by providing a copy of the Aadhaar letter to a bank.

Prior to Aadhaar, the issues plaguing and derailing social security programs in India were caused by corrupt officials and middlemen manipulating paper records and stand-alone databases of social security services. Due to lack of a unique identifier like Aadhaar, stand-alone databases cannot detect and eliminate duplicate or fraudulent beneficiaries. The most common modus operandi adopted to inflate the beneficiary list is by inserting duplicate entries, non-existent names, and the names of dead and non-eligible people. Attempts are then made to steal the social security benefits money, depriving genuine claimants.[11][12][13]

Aadhaar-enabled DBTEdit

Aadhaar-enabled service delivery (AeSD) prevents corruption in retail by directly crediting benefit money into the beneficiary's bank account; this is called Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT). It eliminates middlemen and fraudulent, ineligible beneficiaries. In this way, Aadhaar saves billions of rupees of public money annually and enables poor people access to social security benefits.

Various financial and other services are being Aadhaar-enabled, called Aadhaar-enabled Service Delivery (AeSD), in a phased manner.[14] By 1 January 2014, half of India (289 districts across various states) had been covered by DBT for subsidized LPG. By August 2013, 6.3 million duplicate LPG connections were detected by Aadhaar and were cancelled. The national government saved $1 billion on reduced imports by mid-2013.[15]

Aadhaar-enabled eligibility checkEdit

Applicant eligibility is checked by comparing the service delivery database with other databases. For example, PDS kerosene eligibility is checked by comparing the PDS database with the LPG database. The subsidy on kerosene allocation is reduced if the LPG subsidy is detected for that household.[16]

Ration card eligibility is cross-checked with other related, Aadhaar-linked databases. This approach is designed to improve the audit trail, add efficiency and prevent corruption. It results in direct benefit access for eligible people and annually saves billions of rupees from corruption.[12][17] Tangible benefits became visible from 2014; a report by UBS published in January 2014 showed Aadhaar DBT can save 1.2% of GDP.

The finance minister informed the Parliament during Vote on Account that as of 31 January 2014, under DBT ₹33 billion for 21 million LPG subsidy and ₹6.28 billion (628 crores) have been transferred for various social programs in 5.4 million transactions.[18][19]

e-Ration Card ServicesEdit

With the help of e-Ration service, applicants can obtain ration cards and check their costs and food grain availability online. This will help end the corrupt practice of holding back rations and ensure cards reach the needy. Aadhaar card holders can apply for e-ration cards. The Department of Food Supplies and Consumer Affairs website provides eligibility details for the food security plan. This service was first introduced in Delhi.[20] Later this has been followed by the state Govt of Tamil Nadu.

PDS ration in Andhra PradeshEdit

PDS rationing in districts of Andhra Pradesh can be an illustrative example of using modern technology to prevent retail corruption. Ration cards and corresponding bank accounts of the heads of families (HoF) have been linked with Aadhaar Numbers of family members.[21][22]

When a beneficiary buys rations from a PDS shop, their eligibility is authenticated through an Aadhaar KYC handheld device. The PDS computer system reads out the quantity eligibility and balance of each item in the local language. After purchase, the balance quantities for that month are read out. The buyer pays the open market rate to the PDS shop. A computer prints a receipt showing all items purchased, balance items, money paid and subsidy amount. The subsidy amount is credited to the beneficiary's bank account under the DBT program.[23][24] Because the PDS computer system is connected to a central server, beneficiaries can buy ration items from any PDS shop. The system is flexible and provides access and options to the public that was not seen before in PDS.[25]

The state government is preparing to replace about 1,29,00,000 ration cards with the new AP rice card. According to Food and Civil Supplies Andhra Pradesh, around 18 lakh beneficiaries have been found suspicious. The beneficiary for the new AP Ration Card has been identified by a volunteer through door-to-door survey. Now the beneficiary has been identified as the beneficiary will get the YSR Rice Card.

While submitting application for Ration Card in Andhra pradesh, Form D1 needs to be submitted to the nearest rationing office.

m-Ration Mitra in Madhya PradeshEdit

Difficult times call for innovative solutions. While the pandemic wreaks havoc, governments all over the world have been finding ways to deal with the situation. Among such attempts is the interesting proposition by the National Food Security Act with the Madhya Pradesh Government, which is aiming to provide food grains at really affordable prices to those who cannot possibly afford it in the current circumstances.

M Ration Mitra is a smartphone application that allows people to register for Ration cards through mobile phones, which essentially fast tracks the whole process exponentially. This is primarily done to make sure that those below the Poverty Line do not have to wait for the procedures before getting access to food grains. Through the M-Ration Mitra application, consumers can avail food grains at ration shops and can also receive notification regarding the status of the POS machine in ration shops. They can even receive the address of the nearest ration shops and the benefits of the M-Ration card can be availed by anyone in the family.

The M-Ration Mitra will also serve as a consumer complaint forum, which will allow consumers to complain about the closure of shops, short-weighing, or non-distribution of certain food items.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Department of Food and Public Distribution, India". Dfpd.nic.in. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  2. ^ a b Government of India. "National Food Security Act" (PDF).
  3. ^ PRS Legislative Research. "Functioning of the Public Distribution System: An Analytical Report" (PDF).
  4. ^ Puri, Raghav. "India's National Food Security Act: Early Experiences" (PDF).
  5. ^ "30 lakh bogus ration cards could derail scheme". Timesofindia.indiatimes.com. 2 July 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  6. ^ "They Face Extreme Poverty, but have APL Ration Cards". The New Indian Express. 21 February 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  7. ^ "The right to ration cards | Business Standard Column". Business-standard.com. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  8. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 28 March 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Aadhaar link needed to control subsidy leakage:". Timesofindia.indiatimes.com. 19 January 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  10. ^ "National Payments Corporation of India". Npci.org.in. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  11. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 May 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ a b "India News, Latest Sports, Bollywood, World, Business & Politics News". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 3 August 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  13. ^ "Aadhar helps weed out fake ration cards in Andhra". Indian Express. 18 December 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  14. ^ "India News, Latest Sports, Bollywood, World, Business & Politics News". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 11 November 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  15. ^ "Drive against cooking gas misuse helps government save $1 billion in imports". Timesofindia.indiatimes.com. 14 October 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  16. ^ "India News, Latest Sports, Bollywood, World, Business & Politics News". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 12 January 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  17. ^ "Over 13 lakh fake old age pension beneficiaries - News18". Ibnlive.in.com. 10 June 2011. Archived from the original on 7 December 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  18. ^ "Vote on Account 2014: Govt committed to Aadhaar; Rs 3,370 cr transferred to LPG beneficiaries - timesofindia-economictimes". Articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  19. ^ "Government fully committed to Aadhaar". The Hindu. 17 February 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  20. ^ "India's first e-ration card service launched by Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal : Art and Culture". Indiatoday.intoday.in. 28 March 2015. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  21. ^ "eINDIA 2012 » INDIA'S LARGEST ICT EVENT » Aadhaar Enabled Public Distribution System – Civil Supplies Department, Government of Andhra Pradesh". Eindia.eletsonline.com. 22 October 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  22. ^ K. V. Kurmanath. "Aadhaar, PDS database link to help AP plug loopholes | Business Line". Thehindubusinessline.com. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  23. ^ "Andhra Pradesh links PDS to Aadhaar card". Deccanherald.com. 8 September 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  24. ^ "Aadhaar-based PDS is yielding good results in East Godavari - ANDHRA PRADESH". The Hindu. 5 October 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  25. ^ "Aadhaar-linked biometric device to replace plan for smart cards at ration shops". The Hindu. 15 March 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2016.

External linksEdit