The North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh is leveraging Mantra’s biometric technology to help with the distribution of food to eligible citizens. Mantra Softech is a manufacturer of Aadhaar-certified fingerprint and iris recognition sensors that have been used in a variety of government-sponsored programs, including a benefits program designed for small farmers.
The deployment in Uttar Pradesh involves the Targeted Public Distribution System, which buys staple products like rice and wheat from farmers, and then makes them available at fair price shops across the country. The fair price shops (or ‘ration shops’) allow eligible low-income families to purchase household staples at affordable subsidized prices.
The introduction of Mantra technology is intended to prevent fraud within that system. The fair price shops previously used ration cards to verify the identities of food recipients, but duplicate identities and other forms of fraud have drained resources and prevented food from reaching the intended beneficiaries. The Aadhaar system will replace the ration cards with more secure biometric authentication and more accurately track the distribution of food across the state.
Mantra’s technology is now being used at 19,661 fair price shops in Uttar Pradesh, which collectively serve 8.6 million eligible families. Uttar Pradesh citizens will need to register their biometric information to participate in the new system, which may raise privacy concerns in the wake of the country’s recent debate around the use of facial recognition.
August 1, 2019 – by Eric Weiss