Bihar’s missing ration cards

Rounia, Barari,  Katihar, Bihar | Reena Devi

The national food security law provides legal entitlement to subsidised food grains to two-thirds of India's population. Bihar was hailed for being among the states that  successfully implemented the scheme. However, our ground reports tell us that majority of the beneficiaries still don't have a ration card, a prerequisite in availing the benefits via the Public Distribution System. Our correspondents have identified corruption as the primary reason for funds not reaching the people.
Though six independent studies show that 80% of grains from fair price shops in Bihar reached the people who had ration cards, these studies failed to highlight that a majority of the poorest citizens, for whom the food security law was enacted,  did not have ration cards. Reena asks the people of Rounia Panchayat in Katihar why they do not have a ration card and the answers point to extreme levels of maladministration and outright theft. As noted by Bill Pritchard of University of Sydney, 'For PDS reforms to meet expectations, they need to be accompanied by institutional transformations that broker change in the existing local politics of inclusion and exclusion'. Neither do these dynamics change automatically nor do they change overnight. The communities in Bihar and people in the 18 states & union territories in India which haven't implemented the PDS scheme, have waited long enough.  The time for solutions that work top-down is over. It is time to change things from the ground-up. If you can't stomach the idea that half of India is still starving in 2015, act now.

Please call the BDO on +91-9431818333 and ask him to ensure the people of Rounia have a ration card.

Video Transcript:

This is the story of Rounia panchayat of Katihar district. The members of ward 9 haven't received their rations cards yet.

- Have you got your ration card?
- No.
- How do you sustain yourself and family without a ration card?
- It is very difficult. I have to manage the house by arranging supplies from elsewhere which is difficult. It is very difficult for me.

-I find it hard to run my house without a ration card. We do not get fuel or food. Every other village around us has got a ration card and we poor people are helpless without our cards. It is difficult to sustain.

- Have you visited any officials for your card?
- When I spoke with the village head, he assured me I would get my ration card. He told me to give him INR 200 for getting my card. I haven't given him the money.
- Will you pay him what he asked for?
- No.
- How then will your family manage without a ration card?
- We have been managing this way since almost a year now.
- What change do you hope to see?
- We need our ration supply or it will be very difficult to live.

- Haven't you got your ration card?
- No.
- Did you mention this to the Block Development officer (BDO) regarding this?
- I did manage to speak with the BDO. He took my problem into consideration. He mentioned that my papers are dispatched elsewhere and I will get my card when my papers come.

I hope this community gets their ration card soon. This will help them get their ration supply. I appeal to all my viewers to help my cause. This community must get their ration card soon and avail their ration supply.

I am Reena reporting from Rounia, Bihar for IndiaUnheard.


This video was made by a Video Volunteers Community Correspondent. Community Correspondents come from marginalised communities in India and produce videos on unreported stories. These stories are ’news by those who live it.’ they give the hyperlocal context to global human rights and development challenges. See more such videos at Take action for a more just global media by sharing their videos and joining in their call for change.

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