Source: The Indian Express
by Varad Pande and Subhashish Bhadra
On Independence Day this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for national integration through several “one nation” initiatives such as a singular mobility card, tax regime and electricity grid. One such initiative, “One Nation, One Ration Card”, is meant to enable a resident from, say, Darbhanga, to access her food rations in Patna or Mumbai. The Ministry for Food and Public Distribution has commenced pilots between Maharashtra-Gujarat and Andhra-Telangana, and has committed to a national rollout by June 30, 2020.
The Economic Survey 2017 estimated that over nine million Indians change their state every year. For them, the “One Nation, One Ration Card” is a gamechanger because it makes their rations “portable”, allowing them to pick up foodgrains from any ration shop in the country. It also benefits nonmigrants by allowing them to transact at better-performing shops locally. This local “choice effect” is extremely popular in Andhra Pradesh, which has introduced such portability within the state since October 2015. A study by researchers at the Indian School of Business (ISB) found that over 25 per cent of Public Distribution System (PDS) beneficiaries in the state now use portability.
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