CHENNAI: Imagine getting it printed on our ration cards that we are entitled to receive a certain amount of rations every month! Imagine getting to know who all have the same benefits through the Public Distribution System (PDS)!
Would this ensure everyone gets what they are assured? Well, this seems to have worked in Indonesia, says Abhijit Banerjee, economist and professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who was one of the researchers of the scheme.
Delivering a lecture at Madras Institute of Development Studies on Wednesday, he said under the ‘Raskin scheme’ - similar to our PDS, Jakarta has issued identification cards which inform them how much rice they are entitled to along with the time period. Also, the list of eligible beneficiaries is put up in the villages, making citizens know who all are receiving the 15 kg subsidised rice.
“This scheme was implemented as a pilot project in 572 villages out of which 378 received ID cards and 17 million eligible households were selected. Lists of the names of beneficiaries were put up everywhere. Cards were sent to all those whose addresses were registered. Periodical surveys after every two, eight and 18 months were conducted to ascertain whether the cards have reached the beneficiaries.
100 million cards were distributed,” the economist said. Finding out the addresses of beneficiaries, according to him was tough as most of the places did not have addresses. “The delivery system should be made more effective,” he added.
These cards, in his view gave the beneficiaries increasing power to bargain to get what they deserve. When they were informed about who else would receive the subsidised rice, they can communicate among themselves and demand the concerned authorities for the rice they haven’t received.
This also ensured that no one was cheated, he pointed out.