Of Ration Cards & Fast Food

Of Ration Cards & Fast Food

Aditi Kavarana

It would come as quite a surprise to those who thought that obtaining a ration card was a difficult and long winding process requiring a long list of documents, and heavy bribes. Quick service seems to be the byword of the ration card circle offices of Delhi. In fact, taking into account the fact that a ration card is the ticket to cheap provisions, the ration card department could be called the fast food joint of the Delhi government.

There are four main items on the menu: acquiring an all new ration card, transferring a ration card between two states, acquiring a K O D card and replacing a damaged or lost card.

Item No.1: Acquiring a new card

If a new Ration Card has to be acquired, the concerned person must submit an affidavit at the district court nearest to him, stating that he is a citizen of India, has resided in Delhi for a respective amount of years, and has consumed essential goods for the same number of years. Essential goods consist of those items, which are distributed at fixed price shops at subsidized rates such as, rice, wheat, sugar etc. This clause might seem faintly absurd, in that it would be virtually impossible for anybody to survive without consuming commodities like rice and sugar. However apart from the absurdity; it suffers from no evils of complication or elaborateness. The affidavit is lodged on stamp paper costing just Rs. 2, and can be filed by any common attorney.

The 2 other things required then are proof of residence and 3 passport sized photographs of the applicant attested by a gazette officer. These might seem difficult to obtain, but they’re actually quite simple. Proof of residence could be a registration deed, allotment letter, power of attorney or a house tax receipt in case of an owned house, or a no objection certificate from the land lord in case of a rented house. In case the above can not be furnished by the applicant the concerned authorities would conduct spot inquires by recording the statement of 2 witnesses in the neighbourhood. Getting the photographs attested by a gazetted officer might be difficult, in case the applicant doesn’t know one personally. This is perhaps the only aspect of the entire process, which would require some running around or conversely bribing the official. In case of the latter, the market rate is Rs. 15.

After submitting the requisite documents, getting the card in hand could take anywhere between 15 days (the prescribed time period by the govt.) to 2 months (which would happen in case processing of documents at every stage is delayed because of normal government inefficiency).

Item No. 2: Transferring a card

In case one is applying for a "Transfer of card ", due to change of residence from one state to another, then Form No. 1 is required, (which is available either at the offices or on the internet) along with this 3 attested passport sized photographs, proof of residence, and either the old card, or the surrender/deletion certificate of the same. The estimated time span is the same as above, i.e., 15 days to 2 months.

Item No.3: Replacing a lost card

If a lost or damaged card has to be replaced then form No.1 has to be filled. Three attested passport photographs, proof of residence, the fixed price shop no. and the consumer card no. are also required.

Item No.4: K O D card

A K O D card is meant for the poor who don’t have a gas connection, and wish to use kerosene for lighting and illumination purposes. The application form for this is appended to form no. 1, and the applicant’s ration card no., and circle no. are also required.

Although the process in itself is quite simple, and requires a reasonable waiting period, there are a few loopholes in it. There aren’t sufficient safeguards to ensure that more than one member of the same household doesn’t acquire a ration card. Once a gazetted officer agrees to attest the photographs, verification in the office by an inspector is only a formality. Also, for an all-new ration card, an affidavit must be filed by an attorney, who may swindle the applicant into submitting a large number of documents, thus hiking up his court fees.

Hence, surprisingly enough for an Indian government department, the circle offices do serve up a ration card quite promptly and professionally, and at the end of the meal the tip is really quite small. What more could one want from an eat-house?