Biometrics to streamline delivery of Indian food aid

July 5, 2012 - 

India will introduce biometric devices at point of sales in its Public Distribution System:

The Public Distribution System is an Indian food security system. Established by the Government of India under Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food, and Public Distribution and managed jointly with state governments in India, it distributes subsidized food and non-food items to India’s poor.

Major commodities distributed include staple food grains, such as wheat, rice, sugar, and kerosene, through a network of public distribution shops established in several states across the country.

These distribution shops will now use biometrics for consumer verification, thereby reducing the middlemen required for the sale and delivery of essential commodities.
Likewise, the use of biometrics will eliminate misuse and ghost transactions from the system.

The use of biometrics in India’s Public Distribution System will be implemented in three districts: East Godavari, Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy.

The use of biometrics in East Godavari will be pilot-tested on the basis that 99 percent have Aadhaar card registrations. The implementation will occur in 47 shops.

Officials explained that at the point of sale, the ration card number of the holder would be matched with the unique number of the Aadhaar card. Once the identity is verified, the biometrics system will be used to match the fingerprints of the cardholder or that of the family member. After the match is established, the goods will be delivered. The dealer can also inform the cardholder on the availability of Public Distribution System items through mobile phone messaging.

In this system, the exchange remains between the cardholder and the Public Distribution System dealer, thereby eliminating the need for a middleman or other unnecessary transactions.

Can the use of biometric ration cards and cash coupons stop food theft and feed the millions of hungry?

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About T'ash Spenser

T’ash Spencer writes full time for She has 15 years experience in the field of regional planning and earned her Master’s of Science in Regional Development Planning and Management from the University of Dortmund, Germany. Follow her @tashspencer1.