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IIM-A student, BCG to improve PDS

Vinay Umarji & Chitra Unnithan in Ahmedabad | October 03, 2008 11:27 IST

After an Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) faculty member submitted a working paper on a single national ID formula, an IIM-A student is working on the integration and preparation of a fool proof ration card with the Boston Consulting Group.  

BCG has initiated a pilot project along with the United Nations' World Food Programme, the government of India and the government of Orissa in order to improve the public distribution system (PDS) and reduce pilferage.

"The government incurs losses worth Rs 16,000 crore (Rs 160 billion) due to the pilferage in PDS every year. Around 400 million people avail of the PDS of which 250 million people belong to the below poverty line category. BCG intends to lessen the pilferage in PDS by way of integrating member information," said Srijan Pal Singh, an IIM-A student, who is part of the project with BCG.

 Under the pilot project being conducted in Raigarh, Orissa, Singh assisted BCG in scanning finger prints and the iris for preparing biometric cards for a population of around 10 lakh (1 million).

"The group selected Raigarh for the pilot project since 80 per cent of the population is illiterate and lives below the poverty line. Also, the region is facing severe irregularities in the form of floods, riots and Naxal movements. While I worked full time during my summer internship with BCG, now I am involved part-time as the project nears completion," added Singh.

BCG intends to complete scanning of fingerprints and iris of the locals by December 2008. Once scanned, the group along with its partners will prepare biometric cards, which will be filtered through a super computer to avoid duplications.

Singh said that the members will be handed out individual biometric cards with food coupons under the PDS. Once successful, the project could be implemented in other parts of the country by the government.

"BCG is also thinking about installing vending or food dispensing machines at PDS counters which could be availed through these biometric cards by the beneficiaries. The pilot project is likely to get over by early 2010," said Singh.

The project is entirely funded by WFP, while BCG is working as a consultant on a pro bono basis, added Singh.

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