Direction (Q. 1 - 10) : Read the passage carefully and answer the questions given below. Certain words/phrases have been printed in bold to help you locate them while answering some of the questions.
No one will deny that the least a democratic government can do for its people in a civilised society is to ensure access to food at affordable prices. Ensuring food security is, therefore, a fundamental responsibility of the state. Public distribution system (PDS) is the instrument through which food grains are made available to targeted beneficiaries. Government's resolve to provide for food security is laudable.
At the same time, it does seem that the Bill has been prepared without giving much thought to poverty that is the root cause of hunger. Unless, structured measures are taken to address this problem, food security will only hurt the poor more and its fiscal outcome will pull down any economic strides that we might achieve in other areas. Poverty will remain unless agricultural production is enhanced and procurement process is reformed. A nation can neither progress when many citizens are poor, nor can it put its coffers under fiscal stress on an ongoing basis.
Chhattisgarh has done remarkable work in the area of providing food security. Though it started with reforms in PDS, it has resulted in manifold increase in agricultural production that has directly benefited the rural economy and has been effective in poverty alleviation. In the process, the state has created an integrated food supply chain that has end-to-end computerisation and is web-enabled, thus taking it to public domain.
After initiating the reform process, the state has become self-sufficient in meeting its own food-grain requirements. PDS reforms and extended coverage have ensured food for all at affordable prices. And reforms in procurement have ensured a steady flow of income to rural areas, where 15% account for small and marginal farmers. The state's per capita income has risen from? 12,483 in2000-01 to 751,887 in 2010- 11.
Some other states have also introduced systemic changes. They are at different stages of implementation. Some of them could be synergised to make PDS a fully systemc entric process . Before explaining that, it would be worthwhile to understand the evolution of PDS and the linkages it has with procurement process.
Karnataka has introduced usage of biometric mechanism at fair-price shops (FPS). The biometric details of each family, considered a unit, are loaded on the smart transaction terminals at FPSs, where the beneficiary enters her card number on the machine and the terminal displays her entitlement and quota available for the month, that is then entered by the FPS and authenticated by the beneficiary before the transaction is made.
Gujarat has developed a cardholder transaction-centric model at the FPS. The cardholder has a bar-coded ration card containing basic information of the family, its size and so on. Using bar-coded ration card and biometric identification, she obtains bar-coded coupons from cybercafe to claim her entitlement of commodities. The FPS delivers quantities mentioned on the bar-coded coupon to the cardholder against the prices mentioned on it. Based on actual sale figure for each commodity, FPS dealers can obtain their commoditywise replenishments for the next month by presenting these coupons.
Madhya Pradesh has developed and implemented webbased FPS-wise allocation and offtake-monitoring software. This data is updated on a monthly basis. All FPSs are operated by cooperative institutions with compulsory participation of ration cardholders to ensure accountability.
Clearly, some states have made an effort to bring in some innovations or systemic application in the PDS. However, the procurement process has not seen much progress in any state.
It is against this backdrop that Chhattisgarh completely overhauled the PDS, taking it to the gram panchayat level, using technology in inventory management and allocation. The state computerised the entire food-grain chain, from procurement of paddy at 1,876 purchase centres to transportation of PDS commodities to 10,465 FPS outlets. The commodities are further distributed to 3.7 million cardholding families, covering six organisations. As an outcome of the project, 32 lakh farmer shave been registered with respective procurement centres without a single duplication and overlapping of procurement centres. Nearly 50 lakh system-generated cheques for 716,777 crore have been given to farmers since the reforms were brought in 2007- 08. Citizen participation has increased in the monitoring of PDS.
As a result of streamlining the procurement processes, the state's paddy procurement has multiplied. It needs roughly 13 lakh tonnes of rice for distribution through PDS annually. But paddy procurement that stood at 31.51 lakh tonnes in 2007-08 rose to 55 lakh tonnes in 2010-11. The state has become the second-largest contributor of rice to the central pool. Procurement reforms led to setting up of 1,500 rice mills that created three lakh jobs. They also led to the construction of4,000 shop-cum-godowns with a capacity to store huge quantities of grain. Several godowns were also constructed in tribal and deficit areas.
This is a model of sustainable food security wherein reforms and computerisation have led to setting up of an integrated supply chain. And that has augmented not just farm production and procurement, but also ensured food for all at affordable prices. System-generated payout into farmers' accounts has resulted in a steady stream of income to the rural economy. This has led to economic empowerment of rural areas, where 80% of the state population lives. This will eventually lead to poverty alleviation that may make distribution of subsidised food grain under PDS irrelevant in the long run.
Whichofthe following is incorrect in the context of the passage ?
A. The overhauling of PDS has led to the economic empowerment of rural areas.
B. About 70% of the population in Chhatisgarh live in rural areas.
C. The distribution of subsidised food grain under Public Distribution System in the long run will become irrelevant.