Many people who live in India may be eligible for a state issued Ration Card. This is useful paperwork to have, as it not only entitles to holder to access food supplies, but also acts as an important piece of identification.
National Food Security Act
The ration card system came into effect with the Food Security Act of 2013, and enables around two thirds of India’s population to access food grains such as wheat and rice at a subsidised price. Each state in India administers the ration card system in a different way, with many having several tiers or eligibility, with families qualifying for various quantities of discounted grains depending on their income. Every member of the family gets their own ration card. In order to obtain a ration card, you first have to prove to the state government who you are, and once issued, the ration card can be used as a valid form of identification when applying for other documents such as a PAN card. Ration cards are therefore important pieces of paperwork, and should be kept safe to protect both your right to subsidised food, and protect you from identity fraud.
Since the new ration card system was introduced in India in 2013, there have been ongoing problems with the system. Millions of Indians who are eligible for ration cards have not registered, and there has been fraud in the system also. In order to combat this, the Indian government now requires that any new ration card which is issued is linked to the owner’s Aadhaar number. Aadhaar is India’s biometric identification card system, where each Aadhaar holder is identified by their own 12 digit code. The Aadhaar card also has the bearer’s photograph and other biometric data. Linking the ration cards with the Aadhaar identification system should cut down both on fraudulent applications for new ration cards, and misuse of existing cards by people who are not eligible to buy subsidised foods.
How do I get a ration card?
If you have already got a ration card which has expired, then getting one reissued is very straightforward. When it expires, you will simply send the old one back, and a new one will be reissued in around two weeks. If you have not had a ration card before, then a new application will be required. Head to your nearest civil supplies office and fill in the application form. You will also need to provide proof of your identity and address such as a utility bill such as an electricity bill or something like a bank statement or bank passbook. Take two passport sized photographs which are clear and show your face without glasses or head coverings. Once your identity and address has been verified, the supervisor will approve the application and your ration card will be processed and sent out to the address you have provided. Once the card arrives, you can use it at any Public Distribution System (PDS) shop to obtain their subsidised foodstuffs.