Problem 1 Limited understanding of nutrition and food security
Nutrition Security means Access to adequate quantities of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, micronutrients through availability and affordability of diverse foods including grains, pulses, oil, meat, milk, eggs, vegetables, and fruits to meet the requirement for a person according to the stage in her/his life cycle. Access to safe drinking water as a public good.
Access to food depends on • Control over land , water, forest • Just wages, full safe employment, social security • State policies that support food production • A system that supports people, not corporates An Act is only one small part of all that is needed
The Government’s understanding of “Food Security” is limited to making a limited amount of subsidised grain and some cooked food available to the poorest. There are no elements of change for equity in food production and income distribution.
PROBLEM 2 Targeting and BPL with all its problems remains
Preventing Exclusion • It is only the universal principle that will allow • Dalits, Tribals and the Socially vulnerable • to exercise their right to food These are the majority communities who are excluded when targeting happens
Requirement is therefore A Universal Public Distribution System Remove APL BPL– subsidised food for all Nutritional security with per head monthly entitlements of at least14 kgs of cereals, 1.5 kgs of pulses and 800 gms of oil
But what does the Government draft say? • Every person belonging to priority &general household to receive food grains at prescribed rates and quantities • No pulses or oil • Proposed as follows
Central Government has powers to • Amend or modify schedule of rates and quantities • Decide on number of families in the priority households, based on state-wise poverty ratio and on the additional number of persons belonging to the general household ,in such a manner that in each state the combined coverage under the TPDS belonging to priority and general household are 75% and 50% of the rural and urban population, respectively. • Prescribe the guidelines for identification of priority and general household. • Within the state, identification of priority and general household shall be done by State Govt. (Provided that no household meeting the exclusion criteria prescribed by the central government is included either in the priority or the general households.)
Thus • BPL and targeting with all its problems remains • Central Government meets only partial requirements of cereals and does not at all touch on pulses and oils • Central Government has the power to reduce amounts , population covered , change rates
PROBLEM 3 Lip service to problems of production and distribution
Food Security in a Vacuum • NFS Bill provides food security without considering production aspects – as if food procurement and food distribution can be divorced from production • In actuality, production, procurement, storage and distribution have to be considered together
Possible to Use An Expanded PDS To Revive Agriculture There is a severe agricultural crisis in the country. Procurement for an expanded PDS will give a boost to production and can become an important instrument for the revitalization of the agricultural economy.
We had suggested expanded PDS Along With New Procurement Policy • Procurement from all mandis, so that all areas benefit from govt. procurement (not just major procurement from Punjab, Haryana, AP and partially UP, as is now the case) • Procurement at MSP of millets, pulses and oilseeds etc to boost these crops which are now facing neglect due to low and uncertain prices and due to low investment. • These crops are easily grown in dry-land areas and are not water/input intensive. • Procurement should be at fair MSP prices.
Local Distribution Of Local Procurement • Distribution of grain procured from beyond the district zone should be resorted to only if there is a shortfall in local procurement. This will allow: • Procurement, and therefore support to farmers, from all areas . • Locally preferred grain to be distributed • Drastically cut down storage and transportation costs • Help curb corruption by allowing easier tracking of grain movements However, since many areas suffer from deficits, it is important to ensure that the original intention of the PDS ie : movement of food from surplus to deficit areas will be ensured by Central govt agencies. Village level grain banks to be established to encourage local procurement, storage and distribution to ensure food security
Policies to increase food production, consumption, nutrition • Immediate ban on export of food until malnutrition is ended in the country. • Protect farmers from “dumping” of unfairly subsidized imports. • First call on all natural resources, including land and water, must be for food. No forcible diversion of land, water and forest resources away from food production. • Stop corporatization of agriculture and control of food by agribusiness corporations. • Immediate moratorium on genetically modified (GM) seeds, GM food imports, and use of GM food in government food schemes. • All speculation and futures trading in food items should be banned. • Government must eliminate the entry of corporate interests (including contract farming) and private contractors in food production, the food market, regulatory bodies and nutrition-related schemes. • Governments must not enter into any partnerships with the private sector where there is a conflict of interests. • Government must ensure access to safe drinking water and sanitation for all.
The NFS Bill says Central, State and local Governments shall strive to (1) Revitalise Agri. a. agrarian reforms securing interest of small and marginal farmers b. increase in investments; R&D; extension services c. ensuring remunerative prices; credit; irrigation d. prohibiting unwarranted diversion of land (2) Procurement; Storage and Movement a. incentivize the decentralize procurement b. geographical diversification of operations c. scientific storage d. priority of movements of food grains- sufficient rakes/ expanding railway line STRIVE TO amounts to good intentions with no surety on action
PROBLEM 4 children’s right to food is insecure
For Infants’ Right to Food Infants need • Initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth • Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months Nutrition Security for Infants includes • Skilled assistance and counselling for infant and young child feeding • Financial and nutritional assistance to the mother for six months after birth • Creches in the community and at the work site
For Children’s Right to Food • Program of feeding in ICDS centres and schools from birth till Class X. • Minimum nutrition norms specified in the Act Cooked hot meal • Proper infrastructure- buildings, drinking water, toilets, equipment • Adequate staff • Health check ups in schools and ICDS centers • No use of contractors • Provision for inflation
Universalise ICDS • All children in the age group of 0-6 years entitled to basic nutrition, health and pre-school education services including supplementary nutrition; immunization; health check-ups; referral services; growth monitoring and promotion; pre-school education; counselling of mothers for infant and young child feeding • Support and counselling for Breastfeeding • No promotion of baby foods • Weekly Take-home rations • Identification and treatment of acute malnutrition
The NFS Bill gives limited services • Every pregnant women and lactating mother through anganwadi will be entitled to free cooked meal during pregnancy and six months after the child’s birth. • Children in the age group 0-6 years age shall get appropriate cooked meal ,free of charge, through the local anganwadi or any other prescribed institution. • Children in the age group of 6-14 years :one cooked mid day meal ,free of charge, except on school holidays ,in all schools run by local bodies, Govt. and Govt. aided schools, up to class VIII. • Every school shall have appropriate facilities for cooking and drinking water. • The State Govt. through the local anganwadi , shall identify children who suffer from malnutrition ,and provide cooked meals.
No Guard Against Inflation, No Guarantee of Funding by Central Government • Entitlements under section 4,5&6 shall be realised through specific schemes, which will be implemented by the State Govt in accordance with the guidelines ,including for cost sharing between centre and stateaccording to Central Govt.
PROBLEM 5 Services and definition for vulnerable inadequate
Rights of the Vulnerable and Socially Excluded The Act must recognise the rights of the most vulnerable. These include old people, physically challenged , people suffering from/living with HIV/AIDS , TB or other debilitating and stigmatized diseases, single women headed households, beggars, bonded labourers, primitive tribes, most marginalised groups, homeless, unprotected street and working children etc. All such people to be provided Antodaya cards.
Antodaya Card Holders • All Antodaya card holders to get rations at half price • Hot cooked meals for old and infirm • Double food quotas in ICDS and maternity benefits • Old age pensions of Rs. 1300 p.m. (inflation indexed) • Supply of one quintal of food per month free of cost for six months (after distress is discovered) • Other special programs like community kitchens or residential schools for street children
Other Special Categories • Migrants, urbanhomeless and slum dwellers to be categories for whom special measures to be taken up • Disaster struck to be given Antodaya cards and double entitlements immediately • Pensions of Rs.1300 for elderly, single women and disabled • Maternity benefits of Rs 1,000 per month for six months, along with crèches
The NFS Bill says All destitute persons shall be entitled to at least one cooked meal everyday free of charge in accordance to scheme prescribed by the Central Govt. ’Destitute person’ means one who lacks resources for dignified living. All homeless and poor ,casual workers& migrant labourers shall be entitled to cooked meals at community kitchens according to schemes prescribed by Central Govt. In the case of emergency disaster the State Govt. shall provide free two cooked meals to the affected household or provide them ration free of charge ,for a period up to three months after disaster. The State Govt. will identify persons, households ,groups living in starvation or conditions akin to starvation and shall provide (1)Free Cooked meals two times a day ,for 6 months from date of identification. (2)any other relief deemed necessary by the State Govt. The Government shall strive for pensions No maternity benefits. For vulnerable, categories covered and benefits given are much less than what we asked for. Specially pensions shall only be STRIVED FOR No Maternity benefits
PROBLEM 6 CAShtranSfers are being introduced
The NFS Bill says • “Reforms in TPDS” which includes introducing scheme of cash transfer in lieu of entitlements under the Act. • In case of shortage of supply, Central Govt. shall provide funds for state Govt. to meeting obligations under the Act.
Positive: Cards for Women NFSB has agreed to this Women of eighteen years or above to be head of household for purpose of distribution of ration cards
PROBLEM 7 Reforms in pds are only to be “strived for”
Issues of Corruption and Leakages • Some of the reforms in PDS required • door step delivery with removal of wholesalers • de-privatisation of all ration shops • Computerisation for transparency • Strong community vigilance
NFS Bill: Governments shall strive for Reforms in TPDS in consonance with functional role a. doorstep delivery b. computerization to ensure transparent recording of transactions c. leveraging ‘aadhaar’ for unique identification d. full transparency e. preference to public institutions; cooperatives etc. in licensing FPS by women or women’s collectives f. support to local distribution models
The NFS Bill says For efficient operations under TPDS, State Government to : a. create/maintain scientific storage at State/District/Block Level b. strengthen capacities of food and civil supplies corporations c. institutionalise licensing arrangements for Fair Price Shops (FSPs) under PDS Control Order, 2001 All TPDS records be placed under public domain. All PRIs/ULBs authorized by State Gov. to conduct regular social audits Set up Vigilance Committees as prescribed under the PDS Control Order, 2001 at the State, District, Block and FPS Vigilance Committee shall perform: • a. regularly supervise • b. inform District Grievance Redressal Officer for violations • c. inform District Grievance Redressal of any mal practice or misappropriation EXPERIENCE WITH NREGS AND EXISTING VIGILANCE DOES NOT SHOW MUCH HOPE
PROBLEM 8 Inadequate pROVISIONs to punish penalise or compensatE
The NFS Bill says • In case of failure to supply the entitled persons, they will be entitled to receive food security allowance from the State Govt. in a manner prescribed by the Central Govt. • Any public servant/authority found guilty of failing to comply with the relief recommended by District Grievance Redressal Officer shall be liable to penalty not exceeding five thousand rupees INADEQUATE AFTER OUR EXPERIENCE WITH NREGA
The NFS Bill says • A District grievance officer (GRO), shall be appointed in each district, to enforce various entitlement under this act and, investigate and redress grievance. • State and National Food Commissions to be set up POWERS TO PUNISH AND ENFORCE ARE NOT THERE NOTHING ON HOW TO PREVENT POLITICAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE INTERFERENCE IN APPOINTMENT AND FUNDING OF GRO AND COMMISSIONS