Food Security Bill

Topics: Poverty, Food security, Food Pages: 11 (3524 words) Published: October 11, 2011
National Food Security Bill (referred to as NFSB in this report) is a proposed act which makes food availability a right for every citizen of India. The bill has come about after discussion amongst large number of stakeholders including right to food campaigners, National Advisory Council (NAC) and Government of India. There is a widespread agreement about the intension of the food security and a visibly clear gap about how to implement it. In the following report, we will first analyse what the government’s bill is - followed by the changes that are necessary in our opinion and why this necessity arises. Towards the end of the report, we will see how Brazil implemented the food security for its citizens. As per assignment, section A of this report is required section B of the assignment and vice-versa. Section C of the report and the assignment is same. Section A: A Critique of National Food Security Bill

NFSB that came out of deliberations of Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) is a watered down version of the food security bill proposed by National Advisory Council (NAC). Even before we analyse the food security bill, it is indeed necessary to take a look at some starling numbers. The below poverty line population of India is still very high (37% as estimated by Tendulkar committee and 77% as estimated by Sengupta committee). Every 1 in 3 malnourished children lives in India. The child mortality rate because of hunger and huger-related diseases is very high (6000 deaths on an average day). 76% of the people in India do not get the daily required amount of calories, according to Professor Utsa Patnaik. Contrast this situation against the record 220 billion Kg (160 Billion contributed by rice and wheat) of food production in the last year. It is nearly 15kg per person per month. Even with leakages and the provisions for future emergencies, it is still possible to provide EVERYONE with 7kg per person per month. This is the primary rationale behind universal public distribution system. We will review the provisions of NFSB in the same sequence as they are arranged in NFSB by EGoM.

Chapter I: Preliminary Definitions
This chapter of the food security bill defines all the terminology used in the bill. Even though, some of the definitions are based on previous laws, some terms are not defined clearly. Two examples are mentioned below. * ‘Cooked meal’ means nutritious cooked and ready to eat meal. * ’Destitute person’ means who lacks resources for dignified living. Chapter II: Provisions for food security

This chapter defines the various provisions for priority households, general households, children below the age of 14 and the pregnant and lactating mothers. However, the amount and price for households is not mentioned in this chapter. It is instead part of the schedule. Another interesting fact remains that most of the responsibilities have been delegated to states from the centre. The bill is silent on issues such as what constitutes a nutritional meal, the nutritional requirements of the beneficiary groups. Chapter III: Entitlements of Special Groups

This chapter defines that a cooked meal per day be provided to destitute, homeless and the migrant workers. Again the bill is silent on how these persons will be indentified. One of the major plus points of this section is however disaster relief given by supply of food grains up to 3 months for emergency disaster affected persons. Chapter IV: Persons living in starvation

This section talks about identification of the starved persons and provision of 2 free cooked meals for 6 months from the date of identification. Again, the responsibility to identify the starved persons is given to state governments without any specific mention about criteria for identification. The nutrition value / items to be served / the relevant infrastructure set up – all of these factors are not clearly mentioned. Chapter V: Food Security Allowance

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