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Ashok Kotwal
On demonetisation
Posted on: 23 Dec 2016
On the evening of 8 November, the Prime Minister announced on national television that Rs. ... read on »
Introduction to e-Symposium: The GDP conundrum
Posted on: 16 Nov 2016
Ever since India’s Central Statistical Organisation came out with the new GDP series with ... read on »
Introduction to e-Symposium: The idea of a universal basic income in the Indian context
Posted on: 26 Sep 2016
The idea of an unconditional basic income given to all citizens by the State, has caught o ... read on »
Debate: The Aadhaar Bill
Posted on: 02 May 2016
In a debate on the Aadhaar Bill, commentators from academia and civil society will ... read on »

Tag: PDS

Price risk and poverty
Lucie Gadenne , Sam Norris , Monica Singhal , Sandip Sukhtankar
Posted on: 15 May 2017

There is an ongoing policy debate in India on whether grain entitlements under PDS should be converted into cash transfers. This column shows that in the face of high price variability, in-kind transfers such as the PDS can be superior to cash transfers as they could significantly reduce the strength of the relationship between prices and caloric intake, hence, shielding households from price risk.
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Does good governance reduce foodgrain diversion in PDS?
Sohini Paul
Posted on: 24 Jul 2016

In 2011-12, various states undertook measures to curb leakages of foodgrains from the Public Distribution System. Some of the pioneer states also implemented the National Food Security Act - a rights-based approach to food security - in 2013. Against the backdrop of these reforms, this column analyses whether there is any marked difference in the leakage pattern of foodgrains across states.
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Food Security Act: How are India’s poorest states faring?
Jean Drèze , Prankur Gupta , Reetika Khera , Isabel Pimenta
Posted on: 29 Jun 2016

The National Food Security Act was passed in 2013. This column reports findings from a recent survey on the status of the Act in six of India’s poorest states. Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal are doing quite well - the PDS is in good shape and most people are covered; however, Bihar and Jharkhand are yet to complete essential PDS reforms.
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Aadhaar and government benefits: Better targeting and reduced corruption?
Jean Drèze , Reetika Khera , Raju Rajagopal , Bharat Ramaswami
Posted on: 04 May 2016

Supporters of Aadhaar express the hope that will reduce inclusion errors and corruption by eliminating ghost beneficiaries, say in schemes like MNREGA. Are there substantial benefits to be reaped on this account?

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Aadhaar and government benefits: Risk of increasing exclusion?
Jean Drèze , Reetika Khera , Raju Rajagopal , Bharat Ramaswami
Posted on: 03 May 2016

The Supreme Court verdict that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory to receive benefits reflects the concern that it may increase exclusion errors, either by leaving people out of the net or through technological malfunction. Is this a serious concern?

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Local political elite capture and BPL card allocation
Sitakanta Panda
Posted on: 08 Apr 2016
Tags:   PDS


There is significant anecdotal evidence for the fact that local political connections at the grassroots level is an important channel through which leakages take place in welfare schemes in India such as the PDS. Analysing data from a nationally representative household survey, this column finds that politically-connected households are more likely to be allocated a BPL card - a gateway to obtaining various benefits from the government.
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The significance of local power structures in Bihar’s coupon-based PDS
Chetan Choithani , Bill Pritchard
Posted on: 17 Aug 2015
Topics:   Corruption
Tags:   Bihar , PDS


In 2007, Bihar introduced the coupon system in PDS to curb leakages at fair price shops. This column argues that even though the administrative logic of the coupon system is fundamentally sound, such reform can be effective only when accompanied by institutional transformations that broker change in the existing local politics of inclusion and exclusion.
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PDS computerisation: What other states can learn from Kerala
Silvia Masiero
Posted on: 06 Jul 2015
Topics:   Political Economy


Given the leakage in the Public Distribution System, Indian states are being encouraged to computerise their PDS. This column analyses Kerala’s experience with PDS computerisation and highlights mechanisms through which technology combats leakage in the state’s PDS. However, it argues that computerisation needs to be coupled with deeper interventions to remove incentives for corruption.
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The Chhattisgarh experience and the National Food Security Act
Prasad Krishnamurthy , Vikram Pathania , Sharad Tandon
Posted on: 20 Apr 2015

Many of the reforms introduced under the National Food Security Act are modeled on PDS reforms implemented in Chhattisgarh. These reforms are widely believed to be responsible for the state’s success in improving the distribution of food grains through PDS. However, this column shows that Chhattisgarh’s success pre-dates most of the reforms on which the Act is modeled.
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Big and small ideas in development economics: Theory, evidence and practice
Kaushik Basu , Karthik Muralidharan
Posted on: 03 Feb 2015

Karthik Muralidharan, Associate Professor of Economics, University of California, San Diego speaks with Kaushik Basu, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, World Bank and former Chief Economic Adviser, Government of India, on the World Bank’s global development agenda; inequality and the design of anti-poverty policies; contribution of recent academic research to development policy; research evidence, political economy and policymaking; State capacity for implementation; and law and economics.
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Estimating kerosene leakages from the Public Distribution System
Prankur Gupta
Posted on: 24 Sep 2014
Topics:   Corruption
Tags:   PDS


Kerosene – the primary fuel used by the poor in India for cooking and lighting – is made available at subsidised rates by the government through the Public Distribution System. This column seeks to estimate the extent of leakage of kerosene in the PDS. It is found that, on average, 45% of kerosene that is taken up by state governments does not reach intended beneficiaries.
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UID project: Does evidence matter?
Reetika Khera
Posted on: 05 Feb 2014

The Indian government has been pushing to make UID compulsory, and is now moving towards charging for use of authentication services. This article asserts that the three key selling points of UID – corruption control, inclusion and portability – have been achieved in several states in major welfare programmes, by creatively using simpler technology that is free of the hassles attached to UID.
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Bali conundrum: WTO and Indian agriculture
Ashok Kotwal , Milind Murugkar , Bharat Ramaswami
Posted on: 15 Jan 2014

The outcome of the recent WTO meetings at Bali is a stopgap arrangement, which implies that the Indian government does not have to make any changes in the implementation of the new Food Security Act in the near future. In this article, the authors suggest disentangling consumer support and producer support via cash transfers so that India can build a safety net for its poor without violating WTO agreements.
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Some reflections on the National Food Security Act
Ashok Kotwal , Milind Murugkar , Bharat Ramaswami
Posted on: 10 Dec 2013

The Food Security Bill became an Act with little parliamentary opposition. Yet the public debate has lingered. Would subsidised food grains reduce malnutrition? Won’t it be better to invest in health and education instead? Can we afford the cost of subsidising food for such a large chunk of the population? Should we continue to waste money on the flawed PDS system? How will the grain markets be affected? This column offers a perspective on these important questions.
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A suggestion for WTO negotiations
Ashok Kotwal , Milind Murugkar , Bharat Ramaswami
Posted on: 02 Dec 2013

India’s new food security law is likely to breach WTO’s limit on farmer support. India is keen to ask for a temporary exemption from the rule so that the law can be implemented unhindered. But, in return, it may have to agree on trade facilitation. This article argues that while our food procurement policies do need reform, there is no link between the food security law and free trade.
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Estimating the nutritional impact of the Food Security Bill
Tara Kaul
Posted on: 18 Nov 2013

The provisions of the new National Food Security Bill seek to expand the value and reach of food subsidies provided through the Public Distribution System. This column analyses the nutritional impact of the PDS, and provides an estimate of the impact of the Bill on the caloric intake of current beneficiaries of the programme.
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The National Food Security Ordinance: Five misconceptions
Reetika Khera
Posted on: 07 Aug 2013

The National Food Security Ordinance was promulgated in July 2013. The public debate that ensued, especially the criticism in the business media, has tended to be either devoid of facts or factually incorrect. This article attempts to correct the terms of the debate with relevant facts.
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Turn Right or Left? Or is there a middle way?
Dilip Mookherjee
Posted on: 25 Jul 2013
Topics:   Economic Growth


Dilip Mookherjee shares his perspective on the recent Bhagwati versus Sen debate. While Sen represents the pro-state-led assistance stand and Bhagwati is seen as pro-market, what India requires is the right combination of prescriptions from both camps to effectively combat poverty.
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Food Bill: Neither populist nor unaffordable
Ashok Kotwal , Milind Murugkar , Bharat Ramaswami
Posted on: 19 Jun 2013

Criticism of the National Food Security Bill has led to the government dropping the idea of issuing an Ordinance and instead, saying it would try to get the Bill passed in a special session of Parliament. This article addresses some of the key questions raised by critics of the Bill.
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The role of informal caste networks in public service delivery
Sriniketh Nagavarapu , Sheetal Sekhri
Posted on: 06 May 2013
Topics:   Corruption , Caste


Large public programmes designed at the national level are often undermined by corruption at the local level. This column proposes local level monitoring and enforcement through informal networks as a potential low-cost solution. It shows how caste networks can facilitate monitoring and enforcement in the Targeted Public Distribution System, and infers implications of these findings for the food security bill.
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Grain stocks: Is it a problem of storage capacity?
Bharat Ramaswami
Posted on: 01 Apr 2013
Topics:   Agriculture


Foodgrains rot due to insufficient storage capacity, even as millions go to bed hungry. This column argues that increasing capacity is only a partial resolution. The crisis has happened before and will happen again unless different ways are found to support farmers and consumers.
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Economic policy agenda for India in 2013
Dilip Mookherjee
Posted on: 02 Jan 2013

What should the priorities be for economic policymakers in India in the coming year? This column emphasises the need for greater transparency, and improved governance and regulation for reviving economic growth in 2013.
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Right to Food: Let´s get it right
Abhijit Banerjee
Posted on: 25 Jul 2012

The proposed inter-state resource allocation in the upcoming National Food Security Bill is anti-poor. It will result in unequal treatment of equally poor individuals across rich and poor states. This column explains why, and poses some questions for the way forward.
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