India, Delhi, food safety net program, urban poor, India Supreme Court, Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), reform, National Food Security Act

Document Type



Malnutrition is one of the biggest problems facing India today. Thus, the functioning of the Public Distribution System (PDS) - which provides subsidized food to hundreds of millions of peopleis critically important. However, while numerous studies have evaluated the performance of the PDS in rural areas, there is a notable lack of research in urban slums, a rapidly growing population. Through interviews with PDS beneficiaries and other stakeholders, the present study examines the PDS in one slum in Delhi and finds numerous problems, including low quality grain, corruption, and the lack of an effective complaint mechanism. Although several states in India have recently strengthened their PDS, the under utilization of the PDS in urban areas makes it more difficult to muster the political will to initiate reforms. Unfortunately, the Right to Food Act limits PDS benefits to fifty percent of the urban population, thus ensuring that this urban underutilization will continue.