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Failures in the Digitization of India’s Food Security Programme: The Exclusion of Married Women of Odisha

– Privacy International

The hardship faced by thousands of women due to the digitization of India’s public distribution system.

This blog tells the story of Parbati Majhi, a woman who was included on her family’s ration card until she married, but then could not re-register on her husband’s card, making her unable to access vital food aid during the COVID-19 pandemic. The authors write that this is a hardship faced by thousands of women who are suffering due to the excessive bureaucracy and over-identification inherent in the system.

“Despite the promises of digitization, the implemented changes fall short. None of the three digitization measures mentioned above facilitate the addition of names to ration cards.”

The article states that the digitization of India’s public distribution system - implemented in order to benefit marginalized populations - has not achieved this goal and has in fact widened inequalities. Additionally, linking the system to Aahaar for the supposed aim of efficiency has excluded people who are unable to present identification cards.

It is essential that any technology developed in support of social protection programmes is designed keeping the rights and access of beneficiaries at the centre, as opposed to a top-down model leading to further exclusion

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