FOOD SECURITY IN INDIA

Introduction
INDIA at present finds itself in the midst of a paradoxical situation: endemic mass-hunger coexisting with the mounting food grain stocks. The food grain stocks available with the Food Corporation of India (FCI) stand at an all time high of 62 million tonnes against an annual requirement of around 20 million tonnes for ensuring food security. Still, an estimated 200 million people are underfed and 50 million on the brink of starvation, resulting in starvation deaths. The paradox lies in the inherent flaws in the existing policy and implementation bottlenecks. Ensuring food security ought to be an issue of great importance for a country like India where more than one-third of the population is estimated to be absolutely poor and one-half of all children malnourished in one way or another. There have been many emerging issues in the context of food security in India in the last two decades. These are:  economic liberalization in the 1990s and its impact on agriculture and food security;  establishment of WTO: particularly the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) under it;  challenges of climate change; crisis of the three Fs, viz., food prices, fuel prices, and financial crisis;  The phenomenon of hunger amidst plenty, i.e., accumulation of stocks in the early years of this decade and in 2008-09 along with high levels of poverty;  introduction of targeting in the Public Distribution System (PDS) for the first time in the 1990s;  Right to Food’ campaign for improving food security in the country and the Supreme Court Orders on mid-day meal schemes;

These developments in the last two decades have provided both opportunities and challenges for food and nutrition security of the country India has the largest food schemes in the World  Entitlement Feeding Programmes o ICDS (All Children under six. Pregnant and lactating mother) o MDMS (All Primary School children)  Food Subsidy Programmes o Targeted Public Distribution System (35 kgs/ month of subsidised food grains o Annapurna (10 kgs of free food grain for destitute poor) o Employment Programmes o National Rural Employment Scheme (100 days of employment at minimum wages) o Social Safety Net Programmes o National Old Age Pension Scheme (Monthly pension to BPL) o National Family Benefit Scheme (Compensation in case of death of bread winner to BPL families) The Right to Food Case  PUCL petition on hunger in Rajasthan in the Supreme Court in 2001  Emergence of the Right to Food Campaign  Key Issues: o Making the Right to Food a Fundamental Right o Converting all existing schemes into entitlements o Tackling large scale malnutrition and chronic hunger . and (viii) monitorable targets under the Tenth and Eleventh Five Year Plans similar to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on poverty and women and child nutrition. Proposal for National Food Security Law (Right to Food).

Annapurna Yojana o Social Security Programmes  Pensions (NOAPS. SGRY I & II. NFFWP. NFBS) . Antodaya Anna Yojana (AAY).o Securing employment as a fundamental right linked to the Right to Food  Longest continuing mandamus on the Right to Food in the World o 51 Interim Orders so far. more than 500 affidavits. ICDS o Employment Programmes  NREGS. nearly 70 Interim Applications Highlights of Supreme Court Orders on the Right to Food  Converted all food and employment schemes into legal entitlements  Universalised food entitlement programmes for children (ICDS for children under six and Mid Day Meal Scheme for all primary school children)  Instituted the independent mechanism of Commissioners to the Supreme Court to monitor all food and employment programmes  Prevented the reduction of the “poverty line” from 36% to 26%  Hauled up Government periodically by serving notice of contempt of court on senior most Government functionaries (Chief Secretaries) Office of the Commissioners to the Supreme Court Appointed by the Supreme Court to monitor all food schemes in the Country  Mandate extends to: o Entitlement Feeding Programmes  MDMS. NMBS. RSVY o Food Subsidy Programme  TPDS.

How does the Office of the Commissioners function?  Honorary positions. Old Age Pensions (3 times the amount) . work supported by funds mandated by the Supreme Court  Works through a secretariat (Delhi) and a network of Advisers across India  Make policy recommendations through: o Rigorous participatory research o Articulating alternative demands of State policy o Participating in policy bodies such as Planning Commission Steering Groups  Monitors programmes o Through analysis of macro-data o Addressing complaints at the micro-level  Holds the State accountable by: o Regular engagement with the GoI and State Governments o Joint Commission of Enquiries o Regular reports on non-compliance to the Supreme Court Impact so far  Universalisation of MDMS (120 million children get school meals) and ICDS (Government would need to double the ICDS centres to 1.4 million centres covering 60 million children under the age of six)  Managed to restrict the lowering of BPL quotas by GoI from 36% to 26%  Increase in off-take of subsidised food-grains through the targeted public distribution system  Increased budgetary allocation for ICDS.

com http://www.oneworld.hindu.net http://www.unicef.  Created the environment for the passage of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act Some Challenges that we face  Attempting reforms in an era of overall weakening governance and state commitment to social sectors  Has powers (including filing contempt charges against Chief Secretaries) which are best used by not being exercised  Operates in the domain of judicial activism  Challenge of individual redressal versus systemic policy engagement  Has proved to be marginally effective in harder areas of governance reforms Reference     http://www.org http://uk.org .oxfamindia. Passage of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act which guarantees 100 days of employment a year (at minimum wages)  Provided Civil Society an anchor to engage/ confront the State and created spaces for civil society to engage in food/ employment programmes  Brought the discourse on food rights to the centre-stage of governance in the States and GoI  Has been largely effective in provision of gratuitous relief (Tea Garden Workers in West Bengal).

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful