The first phase of PDS revamp will deal with supply chain improvement, while the second will focus on direct transfer of subsidy, UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani said after submitting the report to finance minister Pranab Mukherjee
New Delhi: A panel headed by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) chairman Nandan Nilekani today suggested two-phase strategy to use IT to improve the PDS (public distribution system) network and provide direct subsidy to poor, besides checking pilferage in the process, reports PTI.
The first phase of PDS revamp will deal with supply chain improvement, while the second will focus on direct transfer of subsidy, Mr Nilekani said after submitting the report to finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.
The task force on direct transfer of subsidies on kerosene, LPG and fertiliser was set up in February.
The task force has recommended a dedicated institutional mechanism to implement end to end computerisation of PDS across the country, Mr Nilekani said after submitting the report.
It has suggested creation of a National Information Utility or Public Distribution System Network (PSDN) by April 2012 and initiation of pilot projects by December 2012.
There are about 4.62 lakh fair price shops (FPS) which distribute commodities, like wheat, rice, sugar and kerosene, worth over Rs30,000 crore every year to 18 crore families.
“The task force believes that a strong, robust IT infrastructure backbone is critical for reforming the functioning of the PDS”, the report said.
It pointed out that true PDS beneficiaries suffer due to “wholesale problems such as large-scale pilferage and diversion... duplicates and ghost beneficiaries, wrongful exclusion and inclusion.”
Mr Nilekani said, “The large focus of the report is to make system more efficient (and) to make sure people have choice.”
The government has in-principle accepted the report of the task force, he said, adding, “it will now process the report and take appropriate action”.
The Nilekani report talks of effective computerisation as a must to achieve the scale, speed, cost-effectiveness, and quality in operations, while respecting the federal structure of the country.
It also talks about the need to empower the ultimate beneficiary and the likelihood of asynchronous rollout of the suggested mechanism.
“Participation of the states in the PDSN would be voluntary and would not hamper the current efforts in computerisation of the PDS in the states,” the finance ministry said in a statement.
After receiving the report, Mr Mukherjee asked the ministry of consumer affairs and food and public distribution to examine the recommendations for implementation in a time bound manner and, if required, to seek the guidance of the EGoM for any remaining unresolved issues.
Focused funds have not done that well in the past
After JP Morgan India Focus Fund, Axis Mutual Fund has also filed its offer document with SEBI (the Securities and Exchange Board of India) to launch ‘Axis Focused 25’, an open-ended equity fund. The New Fund Offer (NFO) price is Rs10 per unit. The scheme will invest 65%-100% in the units of equity and equity-related Instruments (not exceeding 25 companies). The composition will be as follows: Companies among the top 200 in terms of market capitalization—90%-100%; other equities—0%-10% with high risk profile, and the fund will invest up to 35% in debt- and money-market instruments with low- to medium-risk profile.
There is no reason to believe that the new Axis Focused 25 Fund will do any better than the other well-performing schemes. Besides, we already have some 16 existing schemes with similar objectives. They have not delivered exceptional performance. All of them on an average have managed to give a return of just 11% since inception. Proven diversified funds are better options.
The investment objective of the fund is to generate long-term capital appreciation by investing in a concentrated portfolio of equity & equity-related instruments of up to 25 companies. The benchmark for the fund is S&P CNX Nifty.
Entry load is not applicable and an exit load of 1% is payable if units are redeemed/switched-out within 1 year from the date of allotment. Minimum application amount is Rs5,000 and in multiples of Re1 thereafter. The minimum target amount for the scheme is Rs10 crore. The fund manager for this Axis fund is Pankaj Muraka.
Greater Mumbai with a population of 18,414,288 is the top city in population; Delhi NCR is the top urban agglomeration with a population of 21,753,486
As per the preliminary results of the Census 2011, released by the Registrar General of India, Greater Mumbai with a population of 18,414,288 continues to be India’s biggest city, followed by Delhi—16,314,838 and Kolkata—14,112,536. These three cities are India’s mega-cities with 10 million plus population.
But, when we consider Urban Agglomeration (UA) as an extended city comprising built-up area of a central core and any suburbs linked by continuous urban areas, there is a change at the top. Delhi NCR, with the inclusion of Gurgaon, Faridabad, Noida and Ghaziabad becomes the No 1 UA with a population of 21,753,486, ahead of 20,748,395 of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region comprising Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane, Vasai-Virar, Bhiwandi and Panvel. Kolkata has clocked moderate growth.
Bengaluru is now almost as big as Chennai. Bengaluru with an UA population of 8,728,906 (8,499,399 excluding Hosur) is now bracketed with Chennai—8,917,749 (8,696,010 excluding Kancheepuram). Strain on civic amenities and commuting woes are consequently high in Bengaluru. However, it is still an important engine for growth in modern industries and job sectors in urban India.
Hyderabad, which was marginally bigger than Bengaluru in 2001, has now become the sixth largest city with a population of 7,749,334. Ahmedabad at 6,352,254 and Pune at 5,049,968, make up the other larger metros. Surat at 4,585,367 continues to grow rapidly and had added over 1.7 million during the decade. Jaipur, with a population of 3,073,350 has overtaken Kanpur for a spot in the Top 10.
The cities that missed out on the million plus tag are Bareily (979,933), Mysore (983,893), Tirupur (962,982), Solapur (951,118), Hubli-Dharwad (943,857), Salem (919,150), Aligarh (909,559) and Gurgaon (901,968).
According to Prof KS James, Head of Population Research Centre at Bengaluru-based think-tank Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), there is still a significant north-south divide in population growth in India as seen in the 2011 census. "The southern states are showing faster decline in the population growth rate as compared to the northern states. As a result of this, there is scarcity of unskilled labour in the south, which is currently filled in by migration from other parts of the country", he said in a statement. Mr James expressed the view that the demographic divide and change and migration of poor unskilled labourers across states have the potential of generating more conflict within the country.
The urban section of the population with rapid demographic change resulting in higher female labour force participation would follow lifestyles different from other sections. Late marriages, increasing number of divorces and living together before wedding were the characteristics of rapid demographic and economic change in Western countries, and it would be interesting to see how things would pan out in such a scenario in India. It would be difficult for other sections of the population to accept such conduct due to religious and cultural reasons, he added.
Worsening sex ratio motivated by strong preference for the two-child norm with particular gender composition is a considerable challenge in terms of ensuring equal position of women in society. It will have significant future impact. India will have extremely different structure of population across states; while in some states the population age structure will be adult concentrated and will move to old age, other states will have still more concentration of child and young population. This implies that the governments need entirely different policies to tackle issues in these contexts, Mr James said.
Inflated population of Kerala cities
Revised definition of UA in Kerala has led to some strange results, with towns like Malappuram, whose 2001 population was a mere 1.70 lakh entering the Million Plus list. As a result, the population of all the cities of Kerala appear inflated and thus not comparable with the population of the rest of the cities in the country. If the definition had not been changed, the projected population of Kerala cities would be Kochi at 2,075,382 (against 2,117,990), Thiruvananthapuram at 1,251,936 (against 1,687,406), Kozhikode at 1,130,233 (against 2,030,519), Kannur at 844,754 (against 1,642,892), Kollam at 655,172 (against 1,110,005), Thrissur at 499,394 (against 1,854,783) and Malappuram at 211,732 (against 1,698,645). This projection depicts the relative strength, size and importance of Kerala’s cities more accurately.