Food security necessity
In the course of corruption and sky rocketing rise of prices of essential commodities in government of the day, promulgates long awaited food security ordinance. The government is unable to stop stiff price hike of essential commodities and vegetables. Honorable President of India approved food security ordinance and now it becomes a law. During the last general election of 2009, United Progressive Alliance had promised in their manifesto to people of India to bring forward food security bill within 100 days of staying power. Now, they are at the helm of affairs in national politics for more than four years. Monsoon session of parliament is round the corner. Without waiting for approval from Parliament, abrupt announcement of Ordinance of food security bills raises few eyebrows. According to some eminent political observers, the single most motive behind the introduction of this ordinance is to strengthen the political base of theirs. Though, it is a completely separate matter is, how this ordinance will benefit UPA (United Progressive Alliance) in the upcoming general election to be held next year. The Alliance in power at the center, UPA is trying hard for a record comeback to civic center by introducing food security ordinance when the general election is hardly a year away. It is a completely separate matter but how this scheme is going to eradicate hunger and poverty among paupers is to be seen.
In our country one percentage of the population has difficulty in arranging their livelihoods in day-to-day matters. We have achieved independence six decades ago, but a huge chunk of people of India is still reeling under abject poverty. Sometimes, they have to resort to eating jungle grass and small insects in order to stay alive. It is a shame for citizens of this great country, when lakhs of people have to stay with no food or half food. The United Nations had called to eradicate poverty and rootlessness from developing countries by 2015. Till this date nation of the world including Brazil has achieved this terrific achievement of removing poverty and hunger in their respective countries. India is still trailing in achieving the objective of completely eradicating poverty by 2015. Brazil has achieved this due to favorable economic environment and stable government at the centre. It is time to rethink our fiscal policies as why 30 countries have succeeded, in achieving this inevitable. During 1990-2012, period the rank of India in terms of poverty and hunger is higher than some Asian and African countries. According to Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations, in India more than 2.17 cores of people live with hunger. It is a worrying figure from a reliable international organization. Till previous year according to world hunger index, out of 79 hungriest countries, the rank of India is 65. Pakistan and Bangladesh are ahead of India in world hunger index.
In eight states of India including Odisha, poverty and hunger are prevalent in more than 41croes of people. Till previous year, one fourth of world’s poverty is in India. China is more populated than India. Poverty in China is less than India. In India, more than 50 percentages of children have malnutrition problem since their birth. More 43 percentages of children under the age of five have lesser weight than normal. In India, 77 percentages of people are earning livelihoods for one meal per day. They are able to purchase 70 percentages of foods on a daily basis. The number of poor people according to Eleventh National Development Plan amounts to more than 300 million. Large proportions of poor people continue to live in rural areas. The poorest areas on the map of poverty in India are in parts of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal. The major causes of poverty in rural areas are lack of proper education, financial access, productive ideas and inadequate health care.
Food security ordinance:
According to food security ordinance, a person who is recognized as unsatisfactory by state governments is entitled to five kilograms of rice per month in one to three rupees per kg. If for any valid reason, government of the day is not able to give adequate rice or vegetables than the person is to be refunded with money. Up to 75 percentages of rural population and up to 50 percentages of urban population will have equal food rights of five kilogram food grains per month on a highly subsidized rate. States have been asked to formulate and identify rural as well as urban poor. The coverage area will be determined by central government. The central government will provide ample assistance to state government who is dealing with these projects at local level. The assistance includes intrastate transportation, food grain handling charges, margins of fair price shop dealers, information and communication technology outsourcing, doorstep delivery, identifying poor people from “Adhar scheme” The Unique identification scheme. District grievance redressed officer along with state’s food commission will look into the matter of grievances and they will act like Ombudsman for the poor and the needy.
According to many organization who are dealing with permutations and combinations related with nutritional values of adults, for a senior citizen to stay strong and in good health, he needs 12-14 kg of green vegetables, one and half a kg of dal and 800 grams of oil. There is no mention of essential food items in food security bill. The essential food items consist of Dal, salt, oil and vegetables. It is true that healthy food items like that of mutton, chicken, egg are now costlier. Poor people face financial difficulties to afford such foods. In Odisha state government is giving away 35 kg of rice in subsidized prices to family below poverty lines in a month. According to food security ordinance, a family of five would be entitled to five kilograms of rice per person. This means that they will get 25 kg of rice. In Odisha alone, that family is getting 35kg of rice per month in subsidized prices from state government schemes. With the introduction of food security ordinance, the same family’s rice quota will be reduced by ten kg. Now, respective state governments are buying rice from farmers. State governments are procuring 5.76 core tons of food grains from farmers. It is 30 percentages of total rice production in India. Rest 70 percentages of rice are available in the open market. After introduction of food security ordinance, Centre will have to procure additional 7.4 core tons of food grains. It is 50 percentages of total rice production in India. There will be less rice left in the open market. This can lead to black marketing and red taping. Warehousing of surplus food grains is a grave problem in India. Food Corporation of India is unable to cope with gigantic output of paddy and wheat. Most grains are left outside to the mercy of sun and rain which perish with time. Proper building of entire range of warehouse architecture is a necessity. Owing to rise of economy more and more cement structures are there. For this agricultural lands are converted into normal lands. Decrease of cultivated lands has an adverse impact on food grains output.
Abolition of subsidies:
In the recent years, rise of prices of fertilizers, grains, electricity, water pump, irrigation tax have compelled farmers to stay out from agricultural activities. This is impacting directly on food production output. Growth of agricultural output is at all time low. This will lead to the capture of pastoral production by larger private companies as well as big multinational retailers. In this ordinance, there is a provision that, if government fails to provide adequate food grains on time, then it is going to give direct money to the concerned poor. This scheme has similarity with exact cash transfer scheme. This seems that with due course of time the privileged public distribution scheme will give way to direct cash transfer scheme. In the age of liberalization, there are many advocates of removing subsidies and other famous welfare schemes. In the future government will remove subsidies and give the same amount of money to bank accounts of concerned persons. Slowly with inflation government will pay less intrinsic value of money to people and with due course of time entire subsidy regime will be abolished further. In this manner, the entire PDS infrastructure and mechanisms will be abolished. Government will resort to direct cash transfer scheme of payment directly to bank accounts of people. Now very few grains will be left in the open market. Then people will have to depend upon remote big companies and multinational companies for food purchasing. On the other hand, government is paying out a fixed price to farmers for food grain procurement. With due course of time, government will resort to honest cash exchange and ignore farmers. Farmers have to sell their food grains to substantial private companies and multinational companies at a lower price. With due course of time, farmers financial status will be marginalized and he will be facing the debt. Multinational companies and big private industrialists will buy farm lands on lease and introduce large scale machine farming. This will enhance food output and minimize labors.
The most significant illustration for hunger is the lack of identifiable objective land reform Act. Most of the farmers are not foremost farmers. There are landlords who control a vast area of land. They employ small and secondary farmers on a day to day basis. This is the main cause of unemployment and poverty. They live in abject poverty. This reduces their earning capacity. How to remove poverty? It cannot be removed along with food security and direct cash transfer to bank accounts. The government of the day should focus on increasing agricultural business, exports, creating and sustaining favorable farm environments, proper distribution and conservation of foods through warehousing facilities. Agricultural productivity index lays three to four percentages of entire gross domestic products. In 80s, agrarian production was 38 percentages of entire GDP. In the current year, it is 14.3 percentages of entire GDP. It means that over 60 percentages of farmers who run their family with dependence on agriculture, their learning is limited to 14.3 percentages of entire GDP. So, in conclusion, there should be a comprehensive aid program to eradicate poverty. Tailor-made schemes like food security ordinance and direct cash transfer will not help the poor and the downtrodden.
Like it on Facebook, Tweet it or share this article on other bookmarking websites.