The Food Security Act: The Good and Not-So-Good
We all are aware that Food Security Act has been passed by the Parliament and it has become an act. Although, rules are yet to be notified. Lets just quickly glance through ‘thumbs up’ provisions and those which still need to be involved into.
The ‘better’ side of the story:
1) That it’s there at least! How do we say we will be a superpower soon wherein still almost half of the children remain malnourished and over 60% of the women are anaemic? Buildings malls and skyscrapers with sensex figures do not give a fuller picture.
2) Tonnes of grains get spoilt every year owing to bad storage facilities while on the other hand many are forced to sleep with just one meal or no meal a day! With such an act we may expect things to get better on this arena.
3) If education is our fundamental right, we have freedom of speech, right to equality , an empty stomach will never guarantee a good education nor a good life.
4) Even if BPL has been set at ridiculously low level, this act covers 67% of the population which does bring ray of hope to the poorest in the country.
5) As per the act, 5kg of grain per person has to be provided which avoids duplication, which has come out as flaw in Chhattisgarh as there as per state act, the family is provided with 35kgs a month which resulted in many duplicate cards being used.
Other ‘grey’side of the story:
1) Only rice and wheat have been included in the act, there’s no provision for equally significant ones like pulses and edible oil which adversely affects the goal to combat malnutrition. Pulses have been included in Chhattisgarh’s act but there too edible oil hasn’t yet been considered. With prices soaring at such high levels there may also arise a need for ‘vegetable security’.
2) The coarse grains have been kept off from the act, these are certainly not the inferior ones, given their high nutrition content. This has also resulted change in food habits of some communities who traditionally thrived on these cereals. With people also preferring to grow just rice and wheat, the prices of coarse grains too have risen up .
3) Not much clarity has been offered by government over the integration of various schemes such as ICDS, Sabla, Mid day meal programme with the food security act. This needs to made clear to avoid overlaps and gaps.
4) Making a scheme exclusionary often invites corruption and high possibility of people taking advantage of every small loophole during identification of beneficiaries. Involving whole population wouldn’t prompt those driving luxury cars and owning bungalows to buy grains standing in queue from fair price shops but would certainly help in reducing corruption and involving all those who should be.