Functioning food markets critical to social protection against COVID-19

Writing for the Financial Express, Mamta Pradhan and Devesh Roy state that the key to COVID-19 welfare package in India is a functioning food market.

They point out that laid-off workers particularly the daily wage workers comprising many seasonal migrants (9 million annually—139 million total based on census 2011; Ahmedabad, a city of 6 million has nearly 1.7 million seasonal migrants) will struggle to find employment.

The report asks if direct benefit transfer (DBT) or a food stamp that could be utilised both in India's Public Distribution System, part of India's food security system that provides subsidised food to the poor in India, and elsewhere deliver better than the PDS.

COVID-19 brings out the timeliness of some changes that are in the pipeline. One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC), if it were operational, would have been a great help, particularly when augmented with divisibility in addition to portability.

The report can be accessed here.

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