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  • GS-3 Indian Economy:
    • SMART PDS scheme: A bold initiative in digitisation
  • Fact File
  • Sarus crane

SMART PDS scheme: A bold initiative in digitisation

GS-3: Public Distribution System - Objectives, Functioning, Limitations, Revamping; Issues of Buffer Stocks and Food Security 


The Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), which provides food security to 81.35 crore individuals monthly, is governed by the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA), the country's most significant beneficiary-oriented program.


The Scheme for Modernisation and Reforms through Technology in Public Distribution System (SMART-PDS) is implemented with an aim of reducing food grain leakages, improving distribution chain efficiency, and ensuring the availability of provisions for migrants. With the implementation of the Scheme, states and UTs are generating and storing significant amounts of data daily. The use of data analytics to analyze the TPDS ecosystem is enabling the generation of crucial information on beneficiaries, their food security requirements, and migration patterns.


The SMART-PDS Scheme

  • The SMART-PDS is an initiative of the Department of Food and Public Distribution (DFPD) in digitization to modernize digitize the Public Distribution System (PDS) in India.
  • Aim: To the entire PDS system, from procurement to distribution, to reduce leakages and corruption.
  • It uses technology like electronic point of sale (ePoS) machines, biometric authentication, and GPS-enabled vehicles to track and monitor the movement of food grains and ensure they reach the intended beneficiaries.
  • The system provides real-time information on demand and supply, enabling better management of food grains and reducing wastage.


Current Scenario

  • The SMART-PDS scheme has been implemented in several states, including Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Karnataka.
  • According to the government, the scheme has led to a reduction in leakages and better targeting of beneficiaries.
  • However, there have been challenges in implementing the scheme, including issues with connectivity and power supply in remote areas and the need for better training of personnel.


Challenges faced by current PDS System

  • The current PDS system is susceptible to leakages and corruption, resulting in food grain reaching only a few beneficiaries.
  • The system relies heavily on manual processes, making it challenging to track and monitor the movement of food grains and detect malpractices.
  • There is a lack of real-time information on the demand and supply of food grains and the number of beneficiaries, leading to a mismatch between demand and supply.


Integrated Management of Public Distribution System (IM-PDS) Scheme and One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC) Implementation

  • In order to sustain the improvements brought about by the End-to-end Computerisation of TPDS Operations scheme and address the aforementioned challenges, the government has introduced the Integrated Management of Public Distribution System (IM-PDS) Central Sector Scheme.


  • Implement One Nation One Ration Card for nationwide portability
  • The One Nation One Ration Card plan is presently operational in all 36 States/UTs and is steadily increasing its monthly portable transaction count, which currently stands at over 3.5 crore.
  • Establish a national-level data repository for deduplication of beneficiary and ration card data
  • Integrate data infrastructure and systems across ration card management, and automating the allocation, supply chain of food grains, and FPS.


Benefits of SMART-PDS

  • SMART-PDS ensures that food grain reaches the intended beneficiaries, reducing leakages and corruption.
  • The digitization of the system provides transparency, making it easier to track and monitor the movement of food grains.
  • The real-time information on demand and supply enables better management of food grains and reduces wastage, resulting in cost savings.
  • The SMART-PDS scheme has potential to promote financial inclusion. 
  • By digitizing the PDS system, the government can link it with bank accounts and promote the use of digital payment methods, which can help beneficiaries and access financial services improve their financial literacy. 
  • The scheme can also provide data on the spending patterns of beneficiaries, which can help financial institutions develop tailored financial products for them.


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Fact File

Sarus crane

Context: Mohammad Arif, a 35-year-old resident of Mandkha in Uttar Pradesh, was charged with a violation of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, for "unlawfully" caring for and harboring an injured Sarus crane (Grus Antigone).

Saras crane

  • The Sarus crane is a large, long-legged bird that is found in parts of South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Australia.
  • In the Indian subcontinent, it is found in northern and central India, Terai Nepal and Pakistan.
  • It was once a common site in the paddy fields or wetlands of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Assam.
  • It is the state bird of Uttar Pradesh.
  • Characteristics
  • It is the tallest flying bird in the world, standing at a height of up to six feet, and has a wingspan of up to eight feet.
  • The Sarus crane is known for its striking red head and upper neck, which contrasts with its white feathers.
  • It has a loud, trumpeting call and is a majestic sight when seen in flight.
  • It is a social creature, found mostly in pairs or small groups of three or four.
  • Known to mate for life with a single partner, its breeding season coincides with heavy rainfall in monsoon.
  • Usually a clutch has only one or two eggs, which are incubated by both parents for a period of 26 to 35 days.
  • The juveniles follow their parents from the day of birth.
  • Habitat
  • The Sarus crane is known for its ability to live in association with humans, inhabiting open, cultivated, well-watered plains, marshlands and jheels. 
  • These areas suit them well for foraging, roosting and nesting.
  • IUCN Status:Vulnerable” due to habitat loss and degradation, hunting, and other human activities.
  • It is protected under Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act of India, which prohibits the hunting, capturing, or killing of the bird, as well as the trade in its feathers, eggs, or other body parts.


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