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RFID Ration Cards: How RFID can automate Public Distribution systems?

  • Abhishek Shukla
  • Apr 17, 2024
  • RFID
RFID Ration Cards: How RFID can automate Public Distribution systems?

“The use of RFID on ration cards in PDS system streamlines the ration distribution and brings transparency, accountability and prevents leakage and wastage of resources.”



RFID technology has revolutionized various industries, and its application in public distribution systems, particularly in the context of ration cards, holds immense potential for automation and efficiency. 

Public distribution schemes are mostly public-funded, govt. run programs meant to provide essential commodities like wheat, rice, sugar, clothes, etc. to people who need it the most. In a developing country like India, PDS is a revolutionary step that ensures poor citizens do not go to bed on an empty stomach. It is a well-thought-out plan however mired with various forms of corruption and mismanaged distribution, sometimes untimely even. 

RFID ration cards are a great way to bring order in the public distribution systems, ensuring rightful ration card owners are provided with rations in an organized and timely manner without any hassle.

The use of RFID in PDS brings automation in public distribution centers and minimizes human involvement to a great extent. An RFID-based public distribution system allows users to simply scan their RFID ration cards, select the item from a list, and take away the ration in a transparent manner. An RFID-based gate system will ensure that authorized ration bags are only taken out of the store. 



RFID and RFID Ration Cards

RFID is an innovative technology that uses radio frequency signals to read RFID tags and encode information in the tag, using an RFID reader. The small RFID tags contain a microchip and an antenna and can be used on ration cards in the form of an inlay (on the card, between the cover, etc.).

An RFID ration card contains the unique ID of the beneficiary and other details. The information cannot be altered without prior permission from the issuer, so it is safe from any kind of tempering (basically, some RFID tags are written one read more and some require an access code). 



RFID technology in Public Distribution Centers 

The use of RFID technology in public distribution centers is a great way to ensure transparency, accountability, and a systematic distribution of essential commodities for public welfare. Since most beneficiaries are poor, so transparency and accountability become crucial in such schemes.

A PDS system with RFID essentially requires a database of all the beneficiaries, distribution centers, etc. The other essential components of an RFID PDS system are as follows:

1.RFID tags on ration cards,

2. RFID gate systems at public distribution centers, 

3. RFID handheld scanners and antennas

4. Software system


Distribution centers and fair price shops need RFID readers/RFID gate systems to scan the ration cards and verify the identity of cardholders. These readers should be integrated with the existing PDS infrastructure and capable of real-time data transmission. Apart from that, a centralized database is essential for storing and managing the information collected from RFID-enabled ration cards. The database should be secure, scalable, and capable of handling large volumes of data.

Also, it is critical to have seamless connectivity between RFID readers, the centralized database, and existing PDS software systems for the successful implementation of RFID technology. Integration with mobile applications or web portals can also enhance accessibility and transparency for stakeholders


Since Public Distribution Systems (PDS) are crucial for ensuring food security and distributing essential commodities to the population, especially in developing countries, it is best to use RFID, SMS verification, etc., and remove the challenges related to leakages, inefficiencies, and lack of transparency.

Benefits of RFID-Enabled Ration Cards in PDS System


In India, the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY)  provides 5 kg of food grain each month to families with a ration card. The scheme also includes 35 kg of grains to every family covered by the Antyodaya scheme and with RFID tags on ration cards, it can be made more transparent and beneficial. 



1.Enhanced Traceability of Goods

RFID-enabled ration cards allow for real-time tracking of the distribution of essential commodities. RFID-based traceability thus helps authorities monitor the movement of goods from warehouses to distribution centers and ultimately to the cardholders, reducing the risk of diversion ensuring the proper allocation of resources, and ensuring corruption-free benefit transfer to the needy. 


2. Improved Authentication of Ration Card holders and Distribution  

 Traditional paper-based ration cards are susceptible to fraud and duplication. RFID technology enables secure authentication of cardholders through unique identification codes, making it significantly more difficult to manipulate or counterfeit ration cards.


3. Efficient Inventory Management

 RFID tags can be used to monitor the stock levels of essential commodities at various distribution points. The information can be integrated with inventory management systems, enabling timely reordering of supplies and preventing shortages or overstocking.


4. Streamlined Distribution Process

With RFID-enabled ration cards, the distribution process becomes more efficient and transparent. RFID readers at distribution centers can quickly identify and authenticate cardholders, reducing waiting times and minimizing errors in the distribution of goods.





To conclude, RFID-enabled ration cards have the potential to transform public distribution systems by enhancing traceability, authentication, and efficiency. While the technical implementation of RFID in PDS presents challenges, the long-term benefits of automation and transparency can significantly improve the delivery of essential commodities to the population. 

Disclaimer: The information presented here is for general information purposes only and true to best of our understanding. Users are requested to use any information as per their own understanding and knowledge. Before using any of the information, please refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.

  • Created on Apr 16, 2024

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