In the current economic situation, economists Amartya Sen, Raghuram Rajan, and Abhijit Banerjee have come forward with a number of important suggestions.
They have suggested that temporary ration cards should be made available to people who are excluded from the Public Distribution System (PDS). Though the central government has made provisions for availability of extra ration - for three months - to those covered by the National Food Security Act, there are serious omissions in the system and a large number of people who need food security do not have ration cards due to several reasons.
The speediest way to ensure this is to give ration to anyone who approaches the ration shops. The economists have pointed out that self-selection works well. They have also pointed out that the economy will take a while to regain momentum after the lockdown and hence the availability of ration only to those covered by the PDS will not be sufficient. The trio have also backed Jean Dreze’s suggestion of using the Food Corporation of India’s (FCI) stock for ensuring this extra supply of ration.
They have also pointed towards the need to set up canteens in collaboration with reputed NGOs to ensure availability of food to migrant workers and others who are stranded away from home.
The have underlined the need to expand cash transfer policies during this crisis. They have stated, “P. Chidambaram’s idea of using the MGNREGA rolls from 2019, plus those covered by Jan Arogya and Ujjwala to identify the poor households and to send them `5000 each to their Jan Dhan accounts, seems like a good first step.” However, they pointed out that none of these lists can be recognised as perfect. Additionally, they pointed to the need to create funds by the state as well as central government for helping the deprived and stated that local governing institutes can be used to find effective ways to reach the marginalised.