Tuesday, 7 May 2013

The National Food Security Bill 2013

The National Food Security Bill 2013 has been introduced in the current Lok Sabha session which seeks to enact The National Food Security Act 2013.

This Bill which has been in the drafting stage for quite some time has undergone a large number of amendments and has been finally brought in by the UPA Govt. It is one of the flagship schemes of the Congress party as well as Sonia Gandhi and promises to change forever the way food distribution is handled in India.

This Bill provides major relief to the common man who falls under the 'eligible households' as covered under the ‘Priority Household’ category. 

This in turn is defined under Section 15 of the proposed Act, as well as the Antyodaya Anna Yojana referred to in sub section (1) of Sec 3 of the said Act.

Under this Act a provision has been made to provide 5 kg of food grains per month per person to those identified under this scheme. This will be given at highly subsidized rates as prescribed under Schedule I of the State Govt under the TPDS (Targeted Public Distribution System).
This has been done under Sec 3(1) of the said proposed Act. 

Besides, the proviso also says that all households covered under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana shall,  as specified by the Central Govt in relation to each State, be entitled to 35 kg of food grains per household per month at the subsidized prices specified in the said Schedule.

The subsidized price in relation to these food grains could extend to as high as 75 percent for the rural population and up to 50 percent for the urban population.

Moreover, every pregnant or lactating mother would be entitled to a meal free of charge during pregnancy and 6 months after the child birth, through the local Anganwadi so as to meet the nutritional standards as set up in Schedule II of the said Act.

For children up to the age of 14 years this proposed Act provides:
In the case of a child between six months to six years, a meal free of charge through the local Anganwadi.

For children between the ages of six to fourteen years one midday meal to be provided free of charge in all schools aided by Govt as well as those run by local bodies. All these meals would be in conformity with Schedule II of the nutritional standards as prescribed by the Govt in this Act.

Every school and Anganwadis shall have provision for cooking meals, drinking water and sanitation.

In addition the children suffering from any malnutrition would be identified and provided all meals absolutely free of charge to meet the nutritional standards as prescribed under the said Act.

In case of non-supply of these food grains for any reason whatsoever the food security allowance would be paid to the identified people by the respective State Govts.

Apart from the above, the Act also provides obligations for the Central Govt as regards Food Security. The Central Govt would release from the central pool the required quantity of food grains to the respective State Govts under the TPDS (Targeted Public Distribution System) so that the allocated level of supply of food grains to meet these schemes is always maintained.

The food grains would be transported to the various depots as prescribed by the Central Govt. The monitoring and implementation of these schemes will however largely be left in the hands of the concerned State Govts. These Central Govt schemes could be run in tandem to any other schemes being run by the State Govts themselves.

In view of the above provisions it is amply clear that the provisions of the proposed Food Security Bill 2013 are in the nature of largely benevolent provisions and can eradicate hunger and poverty from the face of this Nation once and for all.

 The only catch is that once it is passed, it should be implemented both by the Central and the respective State Govts with all the zeal and passion it deserves.

The National Food Security Bill 2013 is therefore a well thought out carefully planned blueprint for the effective eradication of hunger and malnutrition from our Country. 

It requires careful and consistent application on the part of both the Central Govt as well as all the respective State Govts. It is after all a scheme spread out for the whole of India and for its successful implementation the effective participation of the State Govts is a must.

Although it’s true that the food grains as well as the other items for distribution would be provided by the Central Govt yet all the distribution and monitoring has to be handled by the respective State Govts to the satisfaction of the Central Govts and as per guidelines which are laid down by them.

It is therefore naive to suggest that this programme can be successful without the effective participation of the Central Govt, the State Govt and all its local bodies.

The Center in its wisdom has brought about this phenomenal piece of legislation which seeks a sea change in the way we look at our poor. No right thinking person can seek to oppose this Bill as the fortunes of millions of the urban as well as rural poor are dependent on this.

So let the right thinking polity get together, think rationally and force the negatives out of the system.

This is something which the poor cannot afford to do without and therefore the National Food Security Bill 2013 needs to be be passed without any further delay....No more politics please!


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