CELEBRATING WOMEN'S INITIATIVES
Information Fairs on Rationing Issues

THE RATIONING SYSTEM
India has a Public Distribution System through which essential commodities such as food
grain, sugar and fuel are sold at subsidized rates through fair price shops. Everyone is entitled to a fixed amount of food grain and fuel that they can buy from ration shops at rates fixed by the Government. But the ration shops are sometimes closed and stocks are hoarded and sold at high prices in the black market. Often, ration cards (proof that someone is a resident and is entitled to rations from the local shop) are hard to get, and people have to pay bribes to get ration cards made.

COLLECTIVE ACTION BY WOMEN'S GROUPS
Women's collectives in Latur and Osmanabad have begun a movement in which they are working with the administration to monitor ration shops and ensure that the Public Distribution System works for people, especially the poorest. Mahiti Melavas are information fairs. Two recent information fairs on rationing provided a glimpse of the range of actors and activities that women's collectives and their allies have to take on to solve community problems.


HUNDREDS OF WOMEN CAME TOGETHER
More than 500 women made their way to each of the two information fairs in Latur and Osmanabad to find out about rationing and what they could do to ensure that people get what they are entitled to at prices stipulated by the government.



ASSEMBLING THE ENTIRE CAST OF ACTORS
The information fair brought stakeholders face-to-face. There were women from Mahila Mandals, Gram Panchayat members, members of Ration Vigilance Committees, Shop
owners, Block and District administration, elected members of state legislature, NGOs and The Ration Kruti Samiti - an NGO network working on rationing issues.
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The District Collector, The Divisional Commissioner and Mangalatai from Katejavalgaon village



GETTING THE FACTS STRAIGHT

  
   
 Women got information on the rules that govern the ration shops.

   
   
     Sealed samples The shop is supposed to display sealed samples of all the food grains from the              godown so that buyers can compare samples to stocks they buy and check to see if they 
             are adulterated.


           List of the ration cardholders
   
              The shop has to maintain a list of all the ration cardholders who are entitled to use the shop.

           Stock register

   
             Each ration shop has to maintain an up-to-date stock register on quotas of rations they get               from government  godowns and how much is sold.

   
         Complaints Books
        
        Each shop has to keep a complaints book in which people can register complaints

            Display Board
   
             Each shop must have a board displaying the total number of cardholders, prices of all 
              the goods sold  is supposed and the names of all the members of the Ration Vigilance               Committees.


            Timings
     
   
         Shop owners have to specify the timings and the days on which they will keep the shop open.

            When stocks arrive
     
   
        
When stocks arrive, the talati (the village official), the shop owner and sarpanch are all
               supposed to  check the stocks have arrived and sign the register.  
 



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