ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Bill PritchardSubscribe to Bill Pritchard

Empowering People to Power the Public Distribution System

Despite comparatively high growth rates, India has struggled to dampen the scourge of food and nutrition insecurity facing its population. The public distribution system, at the heart of India’s food security initiatives, has been plagued by problems ranging from ineffective targeting of beneficiaries, to corruption and pilferage of foodgrains. A six-state institutional process-mapping exercise is analysed to capture the movement of foodgrains from farms to beneficiaries, and evaluate changes brought in by the reforms, including expanding coverage, employing technology, and decentralising procurement.

Reconsidering Women’s Work in Rural India

The most recent data gathered by the National Sample Survey Office on work participation for women in India reveal a sharp decline, primarily due to the NSSO’s conventional measures not accounting for economic activities undertaken by women for the benefit of households. Alternative definitional approaches to the production boundary, such as the Indian System of National Accounts and the United Nations System of National Accounts, somewhat better account for unpaid work by women for households’ own consumption. An analysis of data from the part of the NSSO schedule on employment and unemployment (for 2004–05 and 2011–12) that enquires about various activities undertaken by individuals who report performing household activities as their principal activity, reveals a less dramatic decline than that presented by the more conventional measure of work participation. This finding contributes to a significant rethinking of how rural women’s contributions to economic activities for their own households can be better recognised through data.

Assessing Bihar's Coupon-Based PDS

The public distribution system remains the bedrock of India's food security system and the Food Security Act (2013) has only increased its importance. At the same time, the PDS administration has been subject to reform, change and experimentation. States have been experimenting ways to reduce leakages and maladministration. Since 2007, Bihar has used coupons to administer the PDS in order to curb leakages at the fair price shops. How effective has this reform been? Drawing on a primary survey of 350 households from 10 villages in a western district of Bihar, this article suggests that while the coupon system is a potentially effective operational reform, setting the PDS right requires reforms that take into consideration the local politics of resources and rights.

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