Could 'National Food Security Bill (NFSB)' end malnutrition and hunger?


Food security bill ha been passed from Lok Sabha at such a time when 8 crore tonnage of food grains is stocked in government warehouses are coming and increasing number of hunger deaths agreements are coming to fore. Having been brought just before the general election, list of flaws and disagreements over this proposed bill is long. How much capacity this claim has in wiping out the hunger and malnutrition prevalent among the major chunk of India's populace forms the topic of this discussion.

Right to food security is the initiative taken by the government to provide two square meals a day to the large portion of India's population. Receiving meals will be now the right of them and they will have no need to be dependent for food on anybody's mercies. The doors of courts could be rapped on violation of this right. The fine points of this law have been written. Government seems adamant on seeing to it that it is passed through both the hoses of parliaments. Lok Sabha has already passed it too.

If the question of the timing of bringing it just before the general election is sidetracked, there are flaws and imperfections galore in this bill. This is the utter failure on the part of our policy makers and they do not have much brownie point to gloat over by bringing this type of half-baked law for the welfare of the poor masses of the country almost six decades after independence and four decades after the green revolution. This is a mark of their failure indeed. poverty defined by government is a joke on the scourge of poverty itself. While on the one hand, the talks of nutritional diet are occupying the minds of people in this 21st century. Much emphasis is being given on taking nutritional diets on the advice of nutritionist and dietitians. Endless discussions go on unabated because of the definition of good and bad diet in accordance with the nutritional prescriptions, while we are patting our backs under the situation over a mere 5 kg of dry food grains distribution the quality of which also is not at all even guaranteed. The hat would be cooked from them rotten food grains would depend on the mercy of God.

Even if for once, this is granted that for a developing country like India, people in enormous number are compelled to go to bed empty stomach, even making available food grains to them is also an achievement in itself under the given situation. However, proposed plan has many such absurdities and deformities, which would stand as a great hurdle in the ways of its implementation. Unless these challenges are not addressed to, government can cross over the hurdle of election, people's pangs of hunger is not going to subside down. The challenge of feeding the poor and hungry from 'Food Security Act' is enormous. The matter of nutrition and balanced diet is not less than a mirage. Hence, evaluation of this big plan being brought just before the next election by the UPA government invites our evaluation.

We have missed on the historic moment


NFSB has been passed during such a period when around eight crores of food grains are stored in the government godowns and increasing instances of hunger deaths are coming forward. From this angle, this is equal to a triumph for the poor and the deprived of the country. At the same time it is disappointing too that the government could not take the full credit of this historic opportunity for eradicating malnutrition and hunger. Although, there are some positive aspects of this bill with the help of which, the possibilities of much improvements in the public distribution system of states have emerged up. Poverty line has been important in the PDS system. Upon this basis, the population has been evaluated above poverty line (APL) and below poverty line (BPL). From this new bill, now PDS has been cut off from the poverty line. This would have chiefly two advantages. First, its sphere would expand in poor states. Hence, around 80 % population rural population of UP, Bihar, Jharkhand and Assam will fall within the ambit of this act. The experience of Tamilnadu, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh indicates that the PDS system has improved by the expansion of its sphere.

The complex procedure of identifying the poor of the country


In place of the non-transparent and complicated system of identification the poor, bifurcating the rich from the sphere of, the rest of the populace could be brought into its orbit. Under the present system of PDS, about half of the populace does not have PDS card. Thus, through its medium, although the bill is silent over the score of identification, then under the situation, the danger looms larger of the state governments adopting some other means of identifications. Other aspect of this bill is in connection with the women's empowerment. Ration cards would be issued in names of women. Universal maternity right would be given to all the pregnant and the breast-feeding women.

The vision of food security bill- not very ambitious


Although the apparition of NFSB has not been very pushy and only oral lip-service appears to have been done in the matter of right to food. Its first big failing is that no any provision for the farmers has been made in this. 6o % of country's population is dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods and 52 % food grain is produced by the small and marginal farmers. It would these people who shall chiefly be the backbones of the food security bill. Under the situation, they should be encouraged to the maximum extents with the different means and methods of enough of SSP, decentralized government purchases and for production of food grains in addition to other different methods of exhortations. Consequently, this provision in this bill should be inserted that the system of purchase should develop from each states of the country and direct purchase from small farmers must be ensured so that they could get a better price. Secondly, 5 kg of food grains only will not be enough from eradicating malnutrition from the nation. Thirdly, No provision has been dine for community kitchens in in urban areas and food program for the needy. Fourthly, now, its budget would be increased, but to prevent the business interest from taking its advantages, clear guidance has not been given in bill. Fifthly, the grievances redresser cells are not fully strong. Less provisioning of punishment has been done in it. No effective system has been put in place at the village and panchayat level.


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