India is the home of 120 million people and it is the second largest populous country in the world. Even after 65 years of Independence, India’s 15% population is under nourished, despite all the government actions over decades. India has earned the disconcerting distinction of being home to the highest number of hungry people among 129 countries monitored by the Food and Agriculture Organization. This was revealed in the State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015 report. Though India has improved its own record here by reducing the figure from 210 million in 1990-92 to 194 million now, it has fallen behind China in this regard.
The organization has defined the undernourishment that[pull_quote_center] A person is not able to acquire enough food to meet the daily minimum dietary energy requirements, over a period of one year[/pull_quote_center]’. And when undernourishment becomes chronic, it becomes synonymous with hunger.
In our country we have original definitions of poverty in terms of calorie intake. A person falls below the poverty line if he consumes less than 2400 calories a day in rural areas and 2100 calories a day in urban areas. This figure may serve as the benchmark for undernourishment.
After the ardent of Historical Green Revolution we have achieved a lot in the terms of food production. From a food deficit country we have become food surplus and net exporter of the many food grains.
The output of foodgrain increased from 129.6 million tonnes in 1980-81 to more than 250 million tonnes now, which has been ahead of the rate of increase in population during this period. The growing population of the country needs increased available amount of food grains as well as other nutrients. Still undernourishment was a problem and hence the food security law was passed. The law decrees that each family under the Antodaya Anna Yojana will receive 35 kg of foodgrain per month, covering 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population.
Lack of an efficient Public Distribution System (PDS) has proved costly to the efforts to achieve food security. Another big challenge for the government to achieve food security is the identification of the real beneficiary. In the absence of a appropriate mechanism to identify the real beneficiaries, the benefit of these food security schemes to those who need it. Howsoever well-intentioned, this food security law was in a way an acknowledgement that a lot was left to be done and something radical was required.
Food insecurity has an administrative aspect, which is the most important. Distribution under the targeted public distribution system (PDS) hinges on the central issue price. There is a cost involved in distribution, which accounts for the inefficiencies in the system and the resultant leakages. This also partly accounts for the fact that there are large stocks of foodgrain lying in the open air, waiting to be eaten by rodents. A recent study by the National Council of Applied Economic Research shows ‘small offtake, diversions and exclusion errors’ by the Food Corporation of India can threaten the food security of the entire country. There are two options here for the central and state governments: Reform the PDS or shift to cash transfers and constantly monitor buffer stocks. The government has to leave behind the politics and introduce structural reforms if it wants to achieve the target of Food Security. Because without food, there is no Food Security.
[quote_box_center]Article By : Satyam Prajapat[/quote_box_center]