I have been buying my monthly ration from a nearby Public Distribution Shop for the last 5-6 years, and like to share my unique experience with the readers.
We normally go with the intention to buy 5-6 items every month, but when we go and give our list, we will come to know that out of 5-6 that we wanted to buy, only 3-4 are available. No boards carrying items and stocks available as of date are displayed, or even if such a board is kept, it may not be filled in with details.
The shopkeeper would say, for the rest of the items, please come next week, but 90per cent of people may not like to go again. If anyone dares to question how items that are not available here, are being distributed in other shops, he would quietly give the same when the crowd is very limited. Whether we like it or not, he would dump a few additional things compulsorily on us, such as soaps, salt, tea powder, masala pocket, etc., and we have to pay for it.
Things that are given free by the State Government, such as sarees, dhotis, etc., would be given to a few and denied to many on flimsy grounds such as ‘no stock’ or we are ‘not eligible’ for it. When we complain to the mobile phone number given in the SMS bill, we will neither get any acknowledgement nor what action they are taking on our complaint.
If anyone dares to question the shopkeeper, he may yell at us in front of the crowd, making us feel bad. While some shops display whether they are going to work on coming Saturday and Sunday, this information may be missing in many shops. The ambience of the shop, cleanliness within the go-down and handling of customers by the shopkeepers are quite bad.
The shop floor is full of fallen grains, a sure sign of not being cleaned on a daily basis, and wastage of precious food grains. Though the quality of rice and wheat in recent times has improved a bit, other items, such as cereals, sugar, are not that clean.
Many political parties have been announcing a lot of freebies, cash for votes, high cost and difficult-to-implement tall promises on the eve of every poll. However, after coming to power, they struggle badly to implement those poll promises and search for excuses. Here is a great opportunity, crores of people have been going to ration shops nearby every month, and if a political party finds ways to address the issues that we have discussed above and make people enjoy buying from ration shops, it will, for sure, guarantee crores of votes to the party without spending any money. People will love to remember that party with gratitude.