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Running a Biometric-Free Food Security System During India’s Lockdown

  • Viewpoint
  • Posted by Good ID team (Good ID)
  • Via Silvia Masiero
  • 9 April 2020

This article looks at India’s Public Distribution System (PDS), which allocates food, and how it could work without the biometric register, Aadhaar

As Aadhaar requires a fingerprint, it increases the risk of infection during the coronavirus crisis. The author argues that food distribution should instead use physical ration cards, and that because of the high numbers of displaced people, these should be able to be used anywhere.

“The persistence of the physical document has an important affordance: it allows ration dealers, in principle, to supply rations to any user that presents a valid ration card, hence enabling the transition to a portable PDS.”

The ration cards, which are currently used alongside Aadaar, can be recorded by ration dealers and checked by the state. The author argues that while there is a risk of fraud without biometrics, this should ultimately be ignored given the urgency of the situation.

The ongoing crisis requires a reshuffling of priorities: with the lockdown and its serious impact on the poor, the PDS has become an even more fundamental resource for subsistence. The incorporation of biometrics in it has been designed to improve targeting, but the emergency implies that ensuring supplies to the needy is more important than taking measures to combat inclusion errors

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