Reducing Corruption in India’s Public Distribution System Phase II

Reducing Corruption in India’s Public Distribution System Phase II

YEARS: 2011-2012
THEME: Public Food Distribution

An enormous number of working class and marginalized people are roaming in search of food and among them women and children are the most exploited population. The daily income of about three fourth of the nation’s population is only Rs.20 and their buying capacity is decreasing day by day. But the government of India is playing with poor in the name of poverty using of politics and corruption. Governments of India and Karnataka have enough food stocked in huge store enough to distribute for every citizen of India. But these governments are taking their own time to make laws and rules towards distributing food to poor. This has unfortunately resulted in increasing malnutrition among women and children. Fair shops are not identifying the eligible families and they are continuing corruption by keeping extra cards and selling the ration in black market with the help of middlemen.

Paraspara trust initiated new strategy to prevent corruption at Fair price shops by empowering the marginalized community, especially BPL card holders by promoting PDSMCs [Public Distribution System Monitoring Committees] to prevent corruption at fair price shop and a forum called DHV [Dhanya Hakku Vedike] to fight against corruption at government implementation level and policy level by engaging constructively with government and addressing policy issues by making alliances with Right to Food Campaign and other likeminded NGOs in Bengaluru City.

In the phase I, Paraspara trust worked with 30 Fair price shops by collecting information and promoting PDSMCs in all 30 shops with the involvement of shop owners and government officials and declared 3 fair price shops as ‘model shops’ in preventing corruption with model indicators. Also it has built constructive engagement with government officials.

In phase II, Paraspara trust targeted additional 20 fair price shops and totally 50 shops by monitoring 3 model fair price shops and declaring 27 fair price shops as model FPS and preparing 20 FPS towards preventing corruption and declaring as model FPS.

The strength of PDSMCs has increased from 600 members to 1000 members in the phase II. They conducted their regular monthly meeting and sharing the reported corruption at FPS. They fed information on corruption regularly to the DHV forum towards reaching government officials and department to include eligible families. DHV forum with the support of PDSMC members have actively participated in the Campaign Against Corruption and Right To Food Campaign. PDMC members, Shop owners, Vigilance Committee members have actively participated in the Right to Food Bill and in the consultation on Supreme Court order and sensitized on the issue of corruption in PDS system.

A baseline survey by Paraspara in Phase I found 1500 bogus cards in each 50 PDS shops and informed to the Food and Civil supplies department. We convinced the cardholders to re-apply for the new cards through online application. PT with PDSMCs supported cardholders to organize four step strategies to approach Civil Supplies Department to get new cards for eligible poor people in the project area.

  1. Identifying the eligible families and make document on the family and communicate to the respective authority to issue new cards.
  2. Helping the department to identify the bogus cards in the community and report to the authority.
  3. Representation to the authority and convincing the department officials towards issuing the new cards.
  4. Empowering the community and mobilizing  them  to  take  representation  to  the  authority  and demonstrate in front of the department to issue the new cards to the eligible families in the community.

The strategy impacted and forced the department to issue 590 new cards to the eligible families.

The Department Of Food And Civil Supplies informed many eligible people to apply and go for the APL cards, because of the new guidelines for getting new ration cards. As per the suggestion of the department our activists identified the 980 eligible families and applied for the new ration cards through online services. To process the new applications the Food and Civil Supplies department officials visited the community and explained about the process in making new applications without corruption.

Towards sustaining the process PT promoted Public Distribution System Monitoring Committee in each community and at the shop level. It was a group of 15 to 20 members, who eligible to get rations to their families. There were regular meetings to discuss the issues regarding fair price shop. They invited Vigilance Committee (a mandatory committee formed in the PDS system) members to share their problems in getting the stipulated ration for stipulated price from the fair price shop.

The PDSMC members are regularly empowered by the PT members and other resource persons. PDSMC members promoted a Zonal level committee called Dhanya Hakku Vedike [forum for food grains rights] to address the district and state level issues. Dhanya Hakku Vedike had representatives from PDSMCs. The forum had an administrative structure with a President, Secretary, Treasurer and committee members. They participated in State level issues and also participated in the food rights campaign.

PT with the support of Dhanya Hakku Vedike organized two consultations for PDSMC members to empower them to be aware of their own rights and duties against corruption in the fair price shop. Before the consultation, PDSMC members identified community youth and organized a street play training and demonstration in the community on corruption issues. More than 50,000 people observed the street play and were awoken about the bad impact on people and society.

Dhanya Hakku Vedike was the platform for addressing policy issues at District and State level forum. The members of DHV actively participated in the representations, meetings, consultations and demonstrations for the new Food Right Bill which was pending for long time in the Parliament.

In the beginning of the project the Food and Civil Supplies department has constantly neglected our approach and requests. It took nearly a year to convince the department about our programs and finally we approached the Food Ministry to support us. After the recommendation from the Food Ministry, the Department Of Food And Civil Supplies started responding positively to our approach and activities.

Paraspara Trust, PDSMC and DHV arranged for several consultations for the owners of the PDS shops with Food and Civil Supplies Department officials. Towards improving the governance of the PDS organized regular meetings, consultations with to the fair price shop owners and officials as per our plan. Handbills are circulated to the groups in local language about new developments in the area of PDS with other inputs.

In the Second phase PT and PDSMC succeeded in announcing another 19 fair price shops as a model shops. But the department and the owners were not very happy about this process. Because, they found there was no income from the shop after declaring a shop as model and it was an obstacle for their ‘extra’ income. But we succeeded in convincing 19 shops out of 50 shops owners to declare as ‘model shops’.

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