Food Distribution System Case Study

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Key words: Food security, Universal PDS, Targeted PDS, subsidies
The Public Distribution System (PDS) is the most fare reaching in terms of coverage as well as public expenditure on subsidy of all the safety net operations that exist in India. It is an important form of state intervention in the food system by means of a state – administered system of delivery of cheap food. The efforts to reform the public-sector agencies that provide essential services have been limited in India. Department of Food and civil supplies being one of the departments under the Ministry of Food has the primary responsibility of managing the food economy and assuring food security in the country. The transition from universal PDS to Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) was designed to include all the poor households raising the unit subsidy and ration quota considerably for them. The question of targeting has become central to the debate on welfare reform in all the countries across the world. A reduction in food subsidies has been one of the controversial components of the programme of structural adjustment policy as recommended by the IMF and World Bank. It aims at reducing public expenditure. The recently introduced National Food Security Bill (NFSB) aims to address the formidable challenge of ensuring food security for the poor and
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H Suryanarayana (1991) attempt to evaluate the validity of the criticism that PDS in India is urban biased using the then latest available NSS data on ‘Utilization of PDS’ for the period July 1986 to June 1987 which was collected as part of the 42nd Round survey on social consumption. He has used six criterions to derive his findings. The study shows that the nature of bias varies depending upon the commodity in question and criterion used and it concludes that the debate is no longer one of urban versus rural in most of the states but whether the PDS serves the purpose of protecting the vulnerable sections of the

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