What is PDS? The Public Distribution System (PDS) is the most important step taken by the Government of India (GoI) towards ensuring food security. In the beginning, the coverage of PDS was universal with no discrimination between the poor and non-poor. Over the years, the policy related to PDS has been revised to make it more efficient and targeted.
In 1992, Revamped Public Distribution System (RPDS) was introduced in 1,700 blocks in the country. The target was to provide the benefits of PDS to remote and backward areas. From June 1997, in a renewed attempt, the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) was introduced to adopt the principle of targeting the poor in all areas.
It was for the first time that a differential price policy was adopted for the poor and non-poor. Further, in 2000, two special schemes were launched viz., Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and the Annapurna Scheme (APS) with special target groups of poorest of the poor and indigent senior citizens, respectively.
The functioning of these two schemes was linked with the existing network of the PDS. The PDS has proved to be the most effective instrument of government policy over the years in stabilizing prices and making food available to consumers at affordable prices.
It has been instrumental in averting widespread hunger and famine by supplying food from surplus regions of the country to the deficit ones. In addition, the prices have been under revision in favor of poor households in general.
The system, including the minimum support price and procurement, has contributed to an increase in food grain production and provided income security to farmers in certain regions. However, the Public Distribution System has faced severe criticism on several grounds.
Instances of hunger are prevalent despite overflowing granaries. FCI go-downs are overflowing with grains, with some rotting away and some being eaten by rats.