Day 33 – Q 3.Addressing hunger and malnutrition both should be accorded top priority in any food security program. In this regard, critically evaluate the design, performance and limitations of the National Food Security Act.
3. Addressing hunger and malnutrition both should be accorded top priority in any food security program. In this regard, critically evaluate the design, performance and limitations of the National Food Security Act.
भूख और कुपोषण दोनों को किसी भी खाद्य सुरक्षा कार्यक्रम में सर्वोच्च प्राथमिकता दी जानी चाहिए। इस संबंध में, राष्ट्रीय खाद्य सुरक्षा अधिनियम के डिजाइन, प्रदर्शन और कमियों का समालोचनात्मक मूल्यांकन करें।
According to the ‘Food and Nutrition Security Analysis, India, 2019’ report authored by the Government of India and the United Nations World Food Programme hunger and malnutrition continues to reel India –
- Chronic malnutrition was 38.4% in 2015-16.
- The percentage of underweight children was 35.7% over the same period.
- Anaemia in young children was 58.5% during this period.
India ranks 102 out of 117 countries in the Global Hunger Index 2019. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that 194.4 million people in India (about 14.5% of the total population) are undernourished.
According to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017, malnutrition is among the leading causes of death and disability in India.
In this regard National Food Security Act assumes huge significance.
National Food Security Act – design
- Coverage of upto 75% of the rural population and upto 50% of the urban population.
- The eligible persons will be entitled to receive 5 Kgs of food grains per month at subsidised prices of Rs. 3/2/1 per Kg for rice/wheat/coarse grains.
- Besides meal to pregnant women and lactating mothers during pregnancy and six months after the child birth, such women will also be entitled to receive maternity benefit of not less than Rs. 6,000.
- Children upto 14 years of age will be entitled to nutritious meals as per the prescribed nutritional standards.
- Food security allowance in case of non-supply of entitled food grains.
- The Act also contains provisions for grievance redressal mechanism.
National Food Security Act – Performance
As per government data, around 80 crore persons have been covered under NFSA at present for receiving highly subsidized food grains. However,
- State food commission and vigilance committee has not been set by many states.
- Social audit machinery postulated by section 28 of the NFS Act is not operational in almost all states.
- Overall efficiency of the entire process, right from the time of purchase of food grains till its distribution, is very low due to corruption and low transparency.
- There is no seamless flow of information online between the FCI and States.
- There is no portal to provide information about the quality of food grains at the time of purchase, storage conditions in the warehouse among others.
National Food Security Act – Limitations
- Use of Information Technology right from the time of purchase of food grains till its distribution is very limited.
- In absence of One Nation One Ration Card all beneficiaries especially migrants cannot access PDS across the nation.
- Coverage of Integrated Management of PDS (IMPDS) is limited to few states.
National Food Security Act marks a paradigm shift in addressing the problem of food security – from the current welfare approach to a right based approach. But as observed by SC, “combined effort, both by the Centre and states, needs to be taken for effective implementation of the Act”.