In richer states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka by contrast, a massive 91 per cent and 75 per cent respectively of the rural population uses ration shops.
The data suggests that states with a strong private sector market for foodgrains also deliver on public distribution of the grains. The findings from the 66th round of NSS data for 2009-10 comes as the government plans to hugely expand the public distribution system (PDS) across states with the National Food Security Bill.
Despite the weak pick-up of rice, pulses and wheat from PDS, consumption of kerosene remains high across the country, underscoring the leakage from the system. “In all major states except Punjab and Haryana, the proportion of households reporting consumption of kerosene from PDS purchase ranged from 72 per cent to 94 per cent in the rural sector,” the report says.
Sunil Sinha, head of economic research and chief economist at rating agency Crisil, said, “In southern states consumption from ration shops is higher as they are more efficient, largely as many electoral promises are tied to the PDS.”
In states with weak income indicators, the weak delivery system shows up in all commodities except kerosene. In rural Bihar, just five per cent of the total rice and wheat consumed came from ration shops. In UP, less than seven per cent of wheat consumed by rural households is bought through the PDS.
The figures also demonstrate why food inflation remains sticky. Less than 11 per cent of the pulses consumed in rural India comes from homegrown stock. While the share of homegrown stock has fallen for all cereals, the fall is precipitous for pulses. The share of milk as homegrown product has fallen to about 59 per cent.
Incidentally, the share of PDS purchases as a percentage of consumption has risen across all staples (rice, wheat, sugar), as well as kerosene, in both rural and urban areas between 2009-10 and 2004-05, when the last survey was conducted.