Ration Card is a document issued to the households by authority of the State Government. Under the National Food Security Act, it is provided to the households that are eligible (approx. 1.2 billion people) to purchase subsidized food and grain from the Public Distribution System. According to the economic status of the household, these are differentiated by the colour and offer varying levels of benefits.
Blue Ration Card
Issued to households living below the poverty line, this card can be blue, green, or yellow in colour depending on the state or union territory that the family lives in.
Pink Ration Card
This card is issued to households whose total annual income falls above the poverty line. In rural areas, families whose total income is above Rs, 6400 per year and who want to access subsidized food products have issued this card, and the card appears orange in colour.
Antyodaya Anna Yojana Card:
This Ration card is issued to India’s poorest families and those who do not have a stable source of income.
White/ Honorary Type of Ration Card
This card is issued to families who are not economically disadvantaged and do not require subsidized products and services. They do not enjoy the benefits like other groups.
To combat the threats of famines during the World War 2 the British government introduced the rationing system and its successor, the Public Distribution System (PDS). It has played an important role in attaining higher levels of household food security. The system was started in 1939 in Bombay and subsequently extended to other cities and towns. By the end of 1943, 13 cities had been brought under the coverage of rationing and by 1946; as many as 771 cities/towns were covered. When the War ended, India, like many other countries, decided to abolish the rationing system. This was in 1943. However, on attaining Independence, India was forced to reintroduce it in 1950 in the face of renewed inflationary pressures in the economy immediately after independence.
Apart from their basic use i.e. for the purpose of distribution of rice, wheat and kerosene at subsidized rates through fair price shops. Ration card is also used to provide an important proof of Identity and Residence of citizens, it also used as proof of applying for making a Domicile certificate, Birth Certificate, Voter ID card etc.
Nowadays with everything going digital, you can apply for a new ration card online. A new service, e-ration card, is introduced which helps the applicants to obtain ration cards and check their costs and food grain availability online.