The Food Security Bill 2013 India
The National Food Security Bill 2013 was laid by the government, in the parliament on 22 March, 2013. It is highlighted as under:-
– The Bill specified the Public Distribution System(PDS) with the guidelines, such as- entitlement of
5kgs of food grains per person per month for priority households & 35 kgs per household per month for Antyodaya Households. The combined capacity extending upto 75% of the rural population & 50 % of the urban population.
It guarantees a free appropriate meal for the children falling in the age bracket of 6 months to 6 years, through Aanganwadi, while a free mid-day meal for all the students uptill class VIII, of any government-run or government-aided school.It seeks to exercise emphasis on breastfeeding for children upto 6months of age, exclusively. There is a special provision of free meal for malnutrition ed children, through Aanganwadi, on identification.
– It also targets the pregnant & lactating women, by entitling them to a free meal from the same body.
– No attempt has been made to identify the criteria for Priority & Antyodaya households & this duty has been passed down to state governments. The eligible candidates for the PDS would be identified under general sensus data. The state governments are, however, obliged to display the Priority & Antyodaya households in the public domain.
– There is a mention of creation of State Food Commissions with proper structure to monitor the implementation of the food bill at state level & also carry out the hearings, in case of any discrepancy.
– The Bill provides for a two-tier grievance redressal structure, involving the District Grievance Redressal Officer (DGRO) and State Food Commission. State governments must also put in place an internal grievance redressal mechanism which may include call centres, help lines, designation of nodal officers, “or such other mechanisms as may be prescribed”.
– Various mandatory transparent provision have been embed to keep the system & the hiearchy, as clean as possible.
– There would be a separate appointment of DGROs (District Greivance Redressal Officer), to carry out the process of hearing complaints.
– Penalties & Compensations have also been defined for those who fail to keep within the norms.
– It also talks of many other PDS reforms like doorstep delivery of foodgrains; ICT applications and end-to-end computerisation; leveraging “aadhaar” (UID) for unique identification of entitled beneficiaries; full transparency of records; preference to public institutions or bodies in licensing of fair price shops; management of fair price shops by women or their collectives; diversification of commodities distributed under the PDS; full transparency of records; and “introducing schemes such as cash transfer, food coupons or other schemes to the targeted beneficiaries in lieu of their foodgrain entitlements” as prescribed by the central government.
– Another important highlight is the schedule. The bill has been divided into three schedules. Schedule 1 prescribes issue prices for the PDS. Schedule 2 prescribes “nutritional standards” for midday meals, take-home rations and related entitlements. For instance, take-home rations for children aged 6 months to 3 years should provide at least 500 calories and 12-15 grams of protein. Schedule 3 lists various “provisions for advancing food security”, under three broad headings: (1) revitalization of agriculture (e.g. agrarian reforms, research and development, remunerative prices), (2) procurement, storage and movement of foodgrains (e.g. decentralised procurement), and (3) other provisions (e.g. drinking water, sanitation, health care, and “adequate pensions” for “senior citizens, persons with disability and single women”).
There has been a general disagreement on this proposed foodbill. Along with the present opposition party, many other acclaimed personalities expressed the desire for amendments. Some of the main reason because of which the bill is being eyed as a disaster recipe, are enlisted & briefed below:-
* The bill talks about distribution of highly subsidised rice & wheat amongst more than two-third population of the country. The expenditure that has been projected in the report, is being touted as just a fraction of the actual amount that would be consumed.
* According to the CACP report , in next three years the price of rice & wheat would shoot up in a manner that would definitely burn into a hole in this budget.
* Many statistics further suggest that almost every section of Indian society has forayed into the use of protein substitutes of wheat & rice.
* There is a noticeable negligence towards the hygiene & usage of clean drinking water, thus not giving weight to the nutritional needs of women & children.
* The dependance of agriculture on the rainfall, might bring the situation of drought, which having not been properly analysed by the current government; could lead to severe failure of demand.
* FCI currently procures a major portion of rice and wheat from a few selective states. “70% of rice procurement is done from Punjab, AP, Chhattisgarh and UP while 80% of wheat procurement is done from Punjab, Haryana and MP alone,” the report points out. This will need infrastructure to be created and that will cost money.
* In many states, the procurement of wheat & rice is already very high, any increase in it would add to the number of woes.
* There has also been a recorded increase in the costs of wheat & rice with the increase in their procurement.
* The farmer labour is on a way high. An increase in the production would ask the government to incentivise the farmers.
All these are the woes that contribute to the loopholes in the budget. These concerns have also been raised by acclaimed economist Dr. Amartya sen. Amidst all this , the opposition has created a blockage for the bill to pass & it has also stagnated the Parliament.
Now, the point that is worth a discussion is, even if the bill is too flawed to get through, is it necessary to clog the working of Parliament, as it would also prevent any amendment being debated over the crass bill.
The population is awaiting, their respective food provisions; so is country’s economy. This would mark the BJP method of opposition, as rather immature & uncalled for! After all, a bill has to be passed & for that the legislatives have to congress!