AP Government Pilot for Aadhaar-enabled Ration Cards service in Maheshwaram
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The Identity project emerged as a result of our dissatisfaction at the nature of the debate that was emerging on the area of digital governance in India.
Over the past three years we have conducted numerous field visits in seven Indian states.These visits include numerous video-conversations, some short and others very long, with a diverse number of those who were involved with this entire process of participating in the emergence of a digital ecosystem of governance. These are interviews with people being enrolled into the Aadhaar programme, with district-level Panchayat and other officials, with numerous State government bureaucrats, with private enrollment representatives, representatives of various governmental services, with operators and other members of this digital workforce. Conversations are often long, spontaneous and deliberately unstructured: and the focus is mainly on a vérité style using amateur video.
Some key issues that we shortlisted for detailed inquiry were issues of migrants, both domestic and across international borders, homelessness in cities, and the financially excluded. Each of these areas was discussed in considerable detail at major public consultations held in Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bangalore, in partnership with the CSDS, the Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group, and the Urban Research and Policy Programme Initiative of the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore. All videos of all presentations made at these events are also available here.
CSCS also has an extensive text archives of material on the field as a whole, available on http://eprints.cscsarchives.org
In 2011, as part of the overall national initiative towards computerization of the Public Distribution System, the state of Andhra Pradesh announced the completion of the digitization of their ration card database across the state – and the next phase for implementation. This involved issuing Smart Card-based solutions in all Fair Price Shops (FPSs), initially at Maheshwaram, and across the State in a phased manner. At Maheshwaram, Smart Cards had been issued to beneficiaries covering 36 Fair Price Shops, along with PoS terminals for the purpose of commodity distribution. This was perhaps the leading, and also most discussed, pilot in this crucial project, others being in Delhi, Chhatisgarh and Gujarat. This is a video of a field visit to one such Fair Price Shop in Maheshwaram running Aadhar (and biometric) -enabled distribution of ration.
INTERVIEWER: Have they issued the smart cards in that ration shop?
INTERVIEWER: Have all these cards been linked to the Adhaar Cards?
Speaker: Yes, most of us have got them in the Maheshwaram mandal. Some 10% people are yet to get them.
INTERVIEWER: Where did you go to get the Adhaar number? Did you get the Adhaar number and the smart card in the same place?
Speaker: There is a school here. They collected all the details like photos etc. It went for 7-10 days.
INTERVIEWER: Did everyone in your village go?
Speaker 1: Yes, they did. They gave us dates and we had to go on those days. They gave us a month's time. We went when we had the time. Ours is a big town.
Speaker 2: We got the Adhaar numbers by post. But the smart cards from the gram panchayat.
INTERVIEWER: Did you have to take your Adhaar papers to get the smart card. Did you have to submit any other papers?
Speaker: We got that from the gram panchayat. They did a door-to-door delivery and took our signatures. We did not submit anything else.
INTERVIEWER: So how many kilos are you taking now?
Speaker: 16 kilos. Should I show you the slip?
Speaker: So as soon as you enter rice, the machine shows the next item, sugar. Then it shows wheat which we don't have. There are 5 to 6 items in total. It shows all the items that are in stock. So there is palm oil, kerosene etc. It does not show the items that you have already taken.
INTERVIEWER: So the number and the fingerprint need to match. You needn't swipe the smart card?
INTERVIEWER: The card is swiped only when the fingerprinting details are to be stored on it.
Speaker: You can put the card in here. But we don't use that option.
INTERVIEWER: What is this? What is the bound book?
Speaker: This is the old ration card. They write the details of the other commodities like palm oil, apart from the rice, sugar and kerosene etc.
INTERVIEWER: So you just enter the number and fingerprint.
INTERVIEWER: So what is it showing you?
Speaker: It shows what the card holder is entitled to. If it’s a 4 member family then they get 16 kilos of rice. If there are 3 members then it is 12 kilos. But if you enter 20 kilos for a family of 4 then the machine rejects it.
INTERVIEWER: So the machine shows you what the entitlements are?
Speaker: Yes, the message' quantity exceeds eligible amount' appears on the screen.
INTERVIEWER: So the entitlement details are stored on the card?
Speaker: Yes. You can only enter the quantity of rice the person is entitled to. If you enter 30 kilos the machine rejects it. The 16 kilos of rice can be taken in two instalments of 8 kilos and 9 kilos.
INTERVIEWER: Are they writing in the book even after you have got the smart card?
Speaker: No, it’s not necessary. There is a bill that comes now.
INTERVIEWER: Suppose you do not have stock of a certain item on the day the sale is being made e.g. palm oil. What do you do?
Speaker: We don't enter palm oil on the system. When we have it they can put their thumb impression and take the item. So since that the only thing they haven't taken. Only that item shows up.
INTERVIEWER: So you get this many rations this month. Are there any other items that are not in this list?
Speaker: There is wheat and toor dal (kandhi pappu). We do not enter items that we don't have in stock.
INTERVIEWER: What are the total items available for ration?
Speaker: Now we give out only 5 but there are 7 items in total.
INTERVIEWER: So the other two items are wheat and toor dal (kandhi pappu). You don't have them in stock now?
INTERVIEWER: So people can come and take them when the items are in stock.
INTERVIEWER: Is the fingerprinting working without any glitches?
Speaker 1: Yes. There are some whose fingerprints don't match. There are some people whose names appear on the systems but their finger prints don't match.
Speaker 2: There are some people old people whose names and fingerprints don’t match.
INTERVIEWER: So then what do you do?
Speaker: We submit a photocopy of the Adhaar paper and get their details re-entered.
INTERVIEWER: Can you explain the procedure for correcting fingerprints that don't match?
Speaker: There are some old people like this couple here who are 60-70 years old. Their finger prints don't match. None of their fingerprints match. The name appears but their fingerprints don't match. In which case we cannot give the rations. Only when their fingerprints match will the entitlement details appear on the system. So we submit a copy of their ration card and Adhaar card. Then they set it right.
INTERVIEWER: So how will you get their new finger prints on the system?
Speaker: Their finger prints are already there in the Adhaar database.
INTERVIEWER: So what if their palms are badly damaged or they don't have fingers at all. Is there an alternative?
Speaker: You can use three fingers on both hands. One of them has to match.
INTERVIEWER: So then they enter the changes into the system
Speaker: Yes, they take the machine away to update it.
INTERVIEWER: Have you bought this system or was it given to you by them?
Speaker: They gave it to us.
INTERVIEWER: What are you saying, sir?
Speaker: So, my fingerprint doesn’t work on the system they can take my wife's fingerprint. Even my children can put their finger prints and take the rations.
INTERVIEWER: So then what is the issue with the 2 cards that don't match at all?
Speaker: They are just the husband and wife in the family and both their fingerprints don't match.
INTERVIEWER: So do they ensure that the fingerprint works.
INTERVIEWER: Did the gram panchayat people give you the machine.
Speaker: No, the Adhaar people.
INTERVIEWER: So do you call them on the helpline and they come?
Speaker: The come once in a month, the Adhaar people. They ask for a list of people whose fingerprints don't match. So we give them the names along with photocopies of their Adhaar and ration cards. They take the machine to update it. When we first got the machine more than 50 people had problems. Then about 25 still had issues and this month about 10 people have had issues with their fingerprints. So they have promised to come and set the it right.
INTERVIEWER: Do you know how much the machine costs?
Speaker: They said it costs Rs.30,000.
Speaker 1: This is the number we call when we have problems. It is the people who manufacture this machine.
Speaker 2: So this family's names are showing up twice on the system (double names). So their names don't match. The Adhaar people say that it will match only of the name appears once.
INTERVIEWER: Can you please explain what you are saying?
Speaker: This is the stock. It shows how much stock we have received and sold in 15 days.
INTERVIEWER: So does the machine give you a daily report?
Speaker: Yes, We the update option after about 50 people have bought their rations. It automatically gets updated to the central database.
INTERVIEWER: How is this connected to the grid?
Speaker: Online. It shows the stock we have left as well.
INTERVIEWER: How many Antodaya cards do you have?
Speaker: 45-50 members.
INTERVIEWER: Now you said that you give them only stock that is available. How do you update it on the machine when they take rations the second time round?
Speaker: Its simple, we don't enter the items we are not giving them. The next time they come they enter their fingerprints and it shows what they haven't taken. Then we give that to them.
Speaker 1: Put you left finger on the system. Put the other finger.
INTERVIEWER: What's happening now?
Speaker: It’s showing how much rice they are entitled to. It says 16 kilos.
INTERVIEWER: How many white cards does your dealership have?
Speaker: White card meaning WAP. If you deduct the Antodaya cards the rest are white cards.
INTERVIEWER: What’s the error message saying?
Speaker: It says 'fingerprint mismatch'.
Speaker: Madam, white cards have the code WAP and Antodaya cards have the code YAP. If you have YAP then you are entitled to 35 kilos of rice.
INTERVIEWER: What about for white cards?
Speaker: It varies, 16-20 kilos.
INTERVIEWER: What are the entitlements for a 4 member family?
Speaker: 20 kilos. If it is a poor family, even a single member family can get 35 kilos.
INTERVIEWER: So even the whole Antodaya family can get 35 kilos?
INTERVIEWER: What about a white card family of 5?
Speaker: 20 kilos.
INTERVIEWER: Who gets 16kilos?
Speaker: A family of four.
INTERVIEWER: So an Antodaya family gets 35 kilos irrespective of how many members it has?
Speaker: Since it is for the poor, even a single member family gets 35 kilos. Not too many people get the YAP card.
INTERVIEWER: How many people have Annapoorna cards?
Speaker: Three people
INTERVIEWER: What is an Annapoorna card?
Speaker: They get their 10 kilos of rice free of cost.
INTERVIEWER: Who is eligible for an Annapoorna card?
Speaker: Those classified as the poorest of poor.
INTERVIEWER: Are you writing on the sheet even after people have got smart cards.
Speaker: You needn't write it. It is for my reference.
INTERVIEWER: Do you own this dealership?
Speaker: Finger matches. So now it shows 35 kilos of rice.
INTERVIEWER: So is this a big family.
Speaker: Anyone in a family can come and take the rations.
INTERVIEWER: So the rest of the entitlements are same across all card types? Like palm oil, kerosene, sugar etc?
Speaker: Yes. It’s just the rice quantity that changes.
INTERVIEWER: What’s the difference between atta and wheat?
Speaker: Atta is flour and comes in packets and wheat is wheat grains.
INTERVIEWER: Does it show the name of the person on the receipt?
Speaker: Yes, it shows the name of the family member and their card number.
Speaker: These were given as part of the Rachabanda scheme recently. It is a temporary ration card.
INTERVIEWER: How many people got this?
Speaker: 4 members. They don't have the cards yet. They get three month rations against the three coupons on the card.
INTERVIEWER: This is a list of all the people who didn’t get their cards.
Speaker: Yes, now this is a list of people who have the cards. These are the people who are yet to get cards. They are the new entries.
INTERVIEWER: What I am asking is these 10 people are yet to receive a card out of the 27 people you has applied for together?
Speaker: No, it’s a new list.
Speaker: This is receipt of the new entries that were added recently.
INTERVIEWER: Do new memberships come within a month?
Speaker: When they started 50 members did not get their cards (out of all the people who had applied). Then we gave copies of the Adhaar and ration cards. The next month about 25 members out of the 50 who had applied got their cards. Then we re-applied for the people who did not get the card the second time round. The rest of them haven't got their cards as yet so their details are not on the machine.
INTERVIEWER: Do they take machine and go?
INTERVIEWER: How long is your shop open?
Speaker: 15 days.
INTERVIEWER: What are your timings?
Speaker: 8:30am-12.30pm and 4:30-6.30pm.
INTERVIEWER: Are you open on alternate days or are you open continuously for 15 days?
Speaker: It’s open continuously for the first 15 days and its shut for the rest of the month.
INTERVIEWER: When do you get your stock?
We get the stock 5 days after we have paid by DD (Demand Draft/Banker's Cheque).
INTERVIEWER: Do you pay on the 1st of every month? Do you determine the quantities based on the previous months records?
Speaker: No we pay by the 20th of every month.
INTERVIEWER: Do you pay for the stock you sold or stock you are to receive?
Speaker: Stock we are to receive.
INTERVIEWER: At what rates do you get your stock?
Speaker: Only my brother knows.
INTERVIEWER: What rate do you get it at?
Speaker: We make a 20 paisa profit per kilo. We sell it at Rs.2 a kilo. We get sugar Rs.13.35. We sell it at Rs.14.
INTERVIEWER: What about for Pink card holders, do the prices vary for them?
Speaker: Pink card are for job holders.
INTERVIEWER: Do you buy rice at a different rate for pink card holders?
Speaker: Pink card holders don't get rice. They just get kerosene.
INTERVIEWER: They don't get rice, sugar etc.
Speaker: No. Pink cards are for people with government jobs.
INTERVIEWER: So only white cards, Antodaya and Annapoorna card holders get all entitlements?
INTERVIEWER: The third finger too does not match.
Speaker: This is the family whose name appears twice.
Speaker: Give your card.
Speaker 2: I haven't got my smart card.
Speaker: Some have got their smart cards and the others haven't.
INTERVIEWER: Do you take the fingerprints of the people who haven’t got smart cards?
Speaker: Yes, their details are on the system so it works.
INTERVIEWER: So there is really no use with the card to swipe it. Etc.
Speaker: No. They can just bring their papers.
Speaker: The whole family is having problems with the fingerprints.
INTERVIEWER: Can you show me the choices the machine shows? You can put three fingers. Left thumb, left index finger and right index finger.
Speaker: We have been trying for three months. But it isn't working.
INTERVIEWER: So they haven't got their rations for three months? Is this a white card?
Speaker: Yes. They haven’t got rations for three months but we have given them 2 months rations after making a note of it on humanitarian grounds. Of course, only after the officer approved. They are daily wage labourers.
INTERVIEWER: Thanks a lot for explaning everything in detail.