India’s government is planning to bring biometric authentication to its food subsidy system, and Delhi, the nation’s capital, should have it in place next spring. Responding to a question during a session of the national Assembly, Food and Supplies Minister Imran Hussain explained that the system should be operational in Delhi by May of next year.
India’s government distributes its food subsidies through what it calls “fair price shops”, via its Public Distribution System. In Delhi alone, there are about 2,300 fair price shops catering to many thousands of PDS cardholders with access to subsidized food under various schemes. Unfortunately, it’s a system liable to abuse by individuals using fraudulent welfare cards to get more food than is allotted for them through the government’s administration.
To counteract this issue, India’s Minister of State for Food and Civil Supplies, Dinesh Gundu Rao, announced plans back in October to implement biometric authentication in the country’s fair price shops, ensuring that individuals and their subsidy entitlements could be accurately verified. The plan was to link identification to citizens’ Aadhaar ID cards, which are linked to a national biometric registry.
Now, says Minister Hussain, work on the system has already begun. When it’s in place, it should not only cut down fraud but also help to improve efficiency, with subsidized food transactions tracked digitally and in real time.