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16193571 National Food Security Biggest Challenge Before the Government

16193571 National Food Security Biggest Challenge Before the Government

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Published by Om Prakash Yadav
India is going to face a grave threat with respect to food security
India is going to face a grave threat with respect to food security

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Published by: Om Prakash Yadav on Nov 25, 2009
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11/25/2009

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FOOD SECURITY; THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE BEFOREGOVERNMENT
(40 billion people face hunger; two third children areundernourished)
 OM PRAKASH YADAVomjiyadav@gmail.comomjiyadav.blogspot.commong many other challenges posed before the new UPA government,providing food security to all undernourished and mal nourishedpopulation is the most challenging and herculean one. Why is thischallenge so huge? Why can this problem not be deferred? These are thequestions whichwill meet answers in the report released by UNICEF only acouple days ago.
A
 The latest report of UNICEF on hunger in South Asia is shame on humanitynot because we have not been able to eradicate poverty and hunger fromthis region; but due to glaring paradoxes in which prosperity, growth,buoyancy in financial markets, increase in number of HNIs and other indicesof growth on the one hand and poverty, hunger, malnutrition and childdeaths exist side by side. It is disdainful and no civilised country can givepolitical and economic sophistry whatsoever to downplay or decouple itfrom progress and development. How can a Nation move in which billions of population is in thrall of abject poverty and abhorrable hunger? The report says that hunger in South Asia has reached to highest level in 40years due to global financial crisis (GFC) leading to rise in prices of fuel,food and fodder. India did not fall incidentally in the trap of hunger andpoverty; but it has been under this labyrinth for many years despitespectacular robust economic performance in almost all sectors of economyincluding agriculture. It is ironical that in spite of bumper food grainsproduction in successive years, the food security situation has not improvedsignificantly. We had reports when people die for want of food in Kalahndi,Malangir and Koraput areas (KMK) in state of Orissa despite food grains inFCI go-downs and warehouses were decomposing and decaying. What atravesty! The report says the region would witness 100 million people going to bedwithout food; worst among the countries are Nepal, Bangladesh, andPakistan. India is not an exception, the report laments.Only a few months ago, a comprehensive report was prepared by M.S.Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) and World Food Programme(WFP) on hunger and food security in India. This report has said that about1
 
40 billion population i.e. 1/3
rd
of the population suffer from energydeficiency due to mal or under nutrition in India. This report made startlingrevelation that about 40% of the children below 5 years of age are undernourished and about 27% of the world’s undernourished population live inIndia which stands at 94th rank on Global Hunger Index in 2001.Even according to the FAO, number of hungry people in India has increasedby 19 million between1991 to 2001. Nearly half the children are chronicallymalnourished. According to NSSO about 1/3rd or 200 million rural Indianpopulations spend only 12 rupees/ a day and consume only 12 kilograms of cereals per month. Situation of Urban poor is also not better.Under the above mentioned grim scenario, the proposed National FoodSecurity Act is a commendable initiative of government. This law wouldhopefully realise dreams of Mahatma Gandhi to provide food to everyhuman, a goal that was inserted and enshrined in Constitution of India asRight to life (Article-21) sixty years ago. The proposed legislation seeks toprovide access to sufficient food to the deprived section of society bymaking provision therein to provide 25 Kilo Grams of wheat or rice permonth at a subsidised rate of Rs/-3 rupees/ Kg to the families living belowpoverty line (BPL). This legislation is perhaps the first of its kind afterNREGA. After nearly huge success of NREGA, both in terms of providingemployments and public spending, hopes of successful execution of thisproposed legislation are also running high. According to reports and figuresof Ministry of RD, about 460 crore man days employment have beencreated with Rs/-35,000 Crore expenditure under NREGS across the states inIndia. It is a consolable figure even if sporadic instances of corruption andpilferages are taken into account. Mechanism of social audit needs to bestrengthened and people’s participation into these schemes can further beencouraged. This programme is all set to bring a social and economicrevolution in rural India; a concept which has gained appreciation incountries like USA, UK and host of others.
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE TO MAKE NATIONAL FOOD SECURITY ACT, AHUGE SUCCESS-
when NREGA was enacted, many Neocons were pessimistabout its implementation. But when it was implemented in February 2005 in asmany as 200 districts in Phase-I (one) across Nation, it started givingencouraging results and some states did exceeding well. Within years of itsexecution, rural population in some states socked desired level of benefits. Thebenefits have started percolating down slowly but steadily. Nonetheless a lotmore is required to be done to make in more result oriented and successful.
 The payment mode of wage component in the scheme needs to be madeless complicated and time consuming. At the same time wage should behiked and should not be linked with minimum wages Act or any other suchlaw which regulate wage size.
 The assets which are sought to be created in due course of work done inthis scheme should be reoriented and reshaped. Many a times such typesof schemes are selected which are of little or no use at all. More expertise2

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