Rationalising Ration

Irked by corrupt ration distribution system, a group of five students innovated a biometric system that promises to eliminate black-marketing. Saima Rashid reports

The ‘Rationalising Ration’ team in the technical  laboratory of Kashmir University’s engineering  department. (Sitting: Mohsib on left and Tanveer Hussian on right)
The ‘Rationalising Ration’ team in the technical laboratory of Kashmir University’s engineering department. (Sitting: Mohsib on left and Tanveer Hussian on right)

It was a graduation day for engineering students of Kashmir University. The air of excitement was quite visible inside the auditorium. Soon their names would have a new prefix: Engineers.

Their excitement increased when the head of the department announced that the department was ready to assist any student who had an idea or project with innovative value.

Within no time the students formulated an idea to overhaul the ‘corruption ridden’ Ration Distribution System (RDS) of Kashmir.

Soon, the group, led by Tanveer Hussain, innovated a biometric based Electronic Ration Distribution System that would make ration distribution “completely transparent”.

“The idea was to put an end to overcrowding, wastage of time, regular fights, inaccuracy, black marketing and many such problems on Ration Ghats,” says Hussain.

After finishing their degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from University of Kashmir, Hussain and his team of four other innovators (three girls and one other boy) were supposed to submit a combined project. That was when the idea about this ambitious project popped in their mind.

“For me, Ration Distribution System in Kashmir is as corrupted as any other government department where some manage to gobble most, while others are left with paltry, depending on how your relation with the Munshi is,” feels Hussain.

The group believes that once this innovation comes into practice, wrongdoings like black markeeting and inaccuracy will surely take a hit.

“The consumer will be allotted only 15 minutes to collect the ration and if he couldn’t pull off in this time, he will have to wait for next month,” says Mohsib, one of the innovators.

Undistributed quantity will go back to Food and Supplies Department, he adds.

Biometric system is completely finger print based, so whole process of printing Ration Cards will become obsolete, and details of the consumers will be saved in the Biometric system. The project is intended for public distribution of essential commodities like sugar, flour, rice, kerosene to a large number of people through a network, on a regular basis, in an automated way.

The project starts with fingerprint enrolment of every adult member of a particular family. Each family will receive a unique ID. Once the fingerprint of a specific family member matches the already enrolled fingerprint library, the message will be sent to the mobile handset of the controller of ghat. The controller will send the message in coded form to the system specifying the quantity of ration that has to be given to a particular family.

“Accordingly, the system will provide the allotted quantity to the customer. A feedback message will be sent by the system to the food and supplies department to update about the collection of the allotted quantity of ration and the remaining quantity of ration left in that particular ghat,” says Hussain.

The major drawback of current RDS is that, if by chance, a consumer is not able to collect ration on time, the distributor would black-market the undistributed ration without anybody knowing.

Hussain, the head of the team who hails from Lawaypora in Srinagar outskirts, is a multitalented person; a script writer, videographer, blogger and now, an engineer.

“I write scripts, and then turn them into videos. Since I have no platform to screen my work, I simply upload them on YouTube. Engineering is my career but script-writing is a passion,” he says.

Hussain is aware that to turn an innovation into reality, one needs capital, equipment, and a well organized lab.

Since Hussain and his group are no longer regular students of KU, they are uncertain if the university will let them work on the project anymore.

“No matter if the innovator is ex-university student or the student of any other college, they are welcome to present their ideas,” says Prof Mohi ud din, HoD of Electronic and Communication Department, University of Kashmir.

In 2014, the students of 4th, 5th, and 7th semester from this department had come up with a range of innovations like Baby Pee Sensor, Priority Wise Voltage System, Electronic Kangiri and what not. “But university has its own approval process.”

“We first make these innovators present their project at the University level in presence of concerned experts called Technology Angels. When they find them worth, only then I recommend their projects for further screening to DSIR and other national labs like PRISM and TOCIC,” says Prof Mohi Ud Din. Till now his department has released Rs 25 lakhs for such innovations.

 “Let these students approach me, they will receive similar support,” he assures.

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