De-linking entitlement from poverty line will not entail universalisation of the PDS
With the new methodology proposed by the Planning Commission, beneficiaries under the National Food Security Bill will be determined through the parameters set under the socio-economic caste census, and not the State government machinery.
According to sources in the Commission, if the rural population to be covered for mandatory food entitlements is at least 46 per cent, then the government will decide on the parameters that will be used to identify the beneficiaries.
Even though food entitlements have been de-linked from the poverty line, there will be no universalisation of the public distribution system.
Only necessary parameters
Under the new criterion, if the government decides to go by the 46 per cent coverage of the rural poor as provided in the draft Food Security Bill, then only those of the seven parameters would be assigned as needed to make the concerned households eligible for the subsidised food grains.
For instance, only 2.5 points may be needed and, therefore, assigned, to determine the eligible beneficiaries.
The percentage of beneficiaries in the draft Bill — 75 per cent of the rural population with at least 46 per cent as “priority” — does not form a part of the Bill, but are “annexed” to be notified under the Rules. The targeted population will, therefore, remain.
If the Tendulkar Committee report provides the percentage of “how much” poverty, the census will provide information on the “who” of the population living below the poverty line.