Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Public Deception System

I don't really understand the ration card or the Public Distribution System (PDS). Quite simply, because we don't need the so called subsidized rations. By "we" i mean people who can afford to buy from air conditioned supermarkets, and have cards to swipe the bill. Yet due to some strange enlightenment in our political system, they deem it necessary for us to have it as a source of identification. Well that part is ok , but the trouble is we even need to get our rations regularly. Or else the card gets canceled, which implies you lose your identity. Even though we ( my father :P ) pay our taxes for the roads, lights, sanitation and not to forget the subsidized rations as well, without the ration card, the local administrative bodies and many other organizations don't accept you as a valid resident of the state. ( Used to need that for buying LPG Gas as well... thankfully that is not needed anymore )

Earlier, we didn't feel the need to have one, because we could afford the food at a regular retail price, and thought to let the poor enjoy the benefits of the subsidized rations. However, someone insisted  ( good that he did, or else it would have been really tough later on ) that a ration card is one of the most essential document that a person residing in Tamil Nadu can have. So the process started, and like in most other government offices, a middle-man was arranged to get the process done quicker. Apparently there was no option to deny the rations completely, and to just have the card as an identity proof. So the least that could be got was sugar..!! That too 4.5 Kg..! That actually was a bit to much for our family of three. We would hardly be able to consume half of it. So after a few months of running around, the card finally came. It was indeed a very "proud" moment...!! Finally, we had a proof of our residence in Chennai (13° 04' N , 80° 17' E), Tamil Nadu. ( Though the spelling of the street was wrong... there was no choice but to go with it...)

OK, so now there was a catch. Even though we felt we didn't need the stupid sugar, and that what we got was too much, we had no option but to go regularly and buy it. Apparently, if nothing is procured for more than 3 months then the card becomes invalid. Then there is another whole lot procedures involved to revive it. So once in a while either mom or me would go and get it when it was least crowded at the shop. But then soon after, like many others, the simplest thing to do was to give the card to someone else who needs the sugar. So we gave the card to someone to buy the sugar, and just keep the card alive. After moving to a new house, again the whole hassle of changing the address and all. But the worst problem was that i couldn't find anyone to take the card for the whole of two months...! And September was the third month, after which the card might become invalid...! And i didn't want to wait to find out if that was true. So well, seeing no other way, i had to go and stand in a queue, which was surprisingly long during the end of the month. Apparently it was because of the 1 Rupee rice. Ahh heck.. So after more than 2 agonizing hours of standing in a queue, i finally got my "essential" supplies. Four and a half kilos of sugar. After triumphantly saving my card from invalidity, i marched back home. ( Bought a1.5LCoke bottle and "Hide and Seek" biscuit from MORE super market on the way home. )

So whats with this stupid system? Its supposed to help the poor, but in reality its a cunning deception by politicians, bureaucrats and officers to fill their own pockets.They very well know that many card holders don't need the supplies, yet they continue to go along with it. The reason is that it is one of the most lucrative way to steal at all levels. From the top most politician or bureaucrat to the man who works at the PDS shop.  First, most don't get their rations every month (like i missed out on two months) and thus more available for the black market. Then they also want to show a huge number of people "benefited" by the PDS system, thus putting up a good public and statistical image. Getting dirt cheap rice and other commodities, means more margin for profits at the black market. A Kilogram of rice, will probably cost 20 Rupees/Kg in the open market. The PDS man will sell a 25 Kg bag for that price in the black market and in return compensate 25 Rupees to the government and show bogus receipts. Well, we all know this all too well. Have seen all this in the Rajini movies of the 80s itself.

Ahh well. Lets just hope there is some more thought put into the system. If anyone tries to correct the system a bit, he/she will be deemed as a villain to the common man. That's the story of Indian politicians. But seriously, only those who really deserve the aid, must receive it. Not all can afford to buy in the open market so definitely they must be helped by the PDS system. But the problem is that the government doesn't know how to select the deserving people. Choosing the whole bunch is a lot easier and profitable for them. Despite the availability of food at such low cost, if people still die of hunger, in a country of vast bounty of natural goodness, then there is something inherently wrong.
 
So the point is that, I only need a card as a proof of my residence, and not a coupon to avail me discounts. These trivial things can and must be amended soon, for the better.



5 Comments:

Anonymous said...

A good topic..

skasha said...

immmmm exactly true aslam all these are stupid rules followed by r govn. rather than these being useful for people its oly mere waste among many or d upper class people n in d medium .....where in d medium class people who go out woking an no one to get their essentials or to gauard their id proof hardly have time to go to d store ....so all these also is a problamatic issues added to d card .

d same case also happens 4 me as i go during unrushed up days ,n get sugar, but then nw a days these days its becommi imposs ,cos all these days i was free so i take my mom nor i go get d sugar n come ,but nw since im engaged wit lot of works i don find time to go to d pds ,oh my god as soon as i enter my house my mom stars yelling ,as i didnt go to d store ,n d same fight goes on on n on......

oh my god cos of tis my mom gets tensed ,n i apparently don find time to go 4 it .....so its a hell time wit tis card in my house .....thank god nw my servant gets d things 4 us ,so nw im revealed 4m d process..n i use it 4 my identi purpose alone ....

Harish subramani said...

dude, i never knew that we had to make trips to the ration shop and get something to keep the card alive. From my parents frequent place shifting(we have moved again last month :)), i only knew we had to change the address on it.
The concept of ID card in our state is so damn shitty. i went to get my international driving license, but was turned away because the address on my passport and Ration card didn't match the address on the national driving license. Why the fuck do you need three freaking id's to get a single thing like international license(which is only payment of money in our corrupted system)?
I suggest that our government should create a state ID card, which it can hand out to residents, and if we are really moving forward as they say, they should make the system electronic, so that things such as change of address, etc can be made a lot easier.

Aslam said...

Yes it is a stupid system Harish.. instead of a state ID card as u r suggesting, why not just a national ID card.. no matter where u are it will have ur info in the database.. electronically of course...

It will reduce a whole lot of these unnecessary complications for everyone...

Visu said...

Well Well, I had a bad time, really a bad time in getting the damn card. Like you, we were not using the card for some time, and when i was about to apply for license, PP and stuff they demanded this as a token of Address Proof, Jeez!.. Only then i applied for the card. It was one heck of a long time.
The process was bull shit, No, orangutan shit. After 6 months, i got the card and oh hell, address was printed wrong! It took another 40 days to get it corrected! Buggers!

As far as the system, I'd totally agree with you. Its deception! Bloody bureaucracy!... "100 ways to make money", that is all. I've heard grocers buying whole-sale stuff from a ration shop. WTF!
Ah well whatever, I don't think this will change.
All hail !