Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Shutting PDS ?

PDS (Public Distribution System) is not functioning well and hence the government is now contemplating replacing it with a cash distribution system instead of ration in the form of subsidized wheat and rice. The amount to be distributed under this scheme will be calculated on the basis of the quantity of rice and wheat that a family is entitled multiplied by the cost/kg of the grains. This the proponents of the so called reform claim will reduce corruption and ensure better functioning of the system.
I wonder how!

First of all the prices are never stable. At any given time the amount calculated is likely to become insufficient in future. Hence this would ideally require constant monitoring and updating the amount of money to be distributed.
Also there is every possibility that this money may not be spent on food.
The biggest problem still is how does one rest assured that corruption would be effectively checked.

It is very difficult for people sitting in air conditioned homes and offices to imagine that there are human beings elsewhere whose biggest problem is putting their children to sleep. When their child is too small they often intoxicate the child so that he would not ask to be fed. But when he/she grows up, it is very difficult to put a hungry child to sleep.

Often the entire family goes food-searching. They search for grains that fall in the fields and grain by grain gather as much as they can. In villages near big and small cities left overs from hotels and restaurants is taken and served to the hungry. This is the kind of dignity the poor get in a democratic set up as they and their children suffer and die of malnutrition and poor farmers commit suicides.

Instead of working out solutions to run the PDS efficiently by making officers responsible and accountable, and even increasing the benefits the poor get from the system, the government is thinking of shutting down a dwindling lifeline of the poor. The poor will get cash instead of ration. As if one is very sure this will solve the problem of corruption that does not spare even those dying of malnutrition and hunger. What is the surety that the cash meant to be so distributed would reach the poor?

Zohra Javed.

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