What is National Food Security Bill?
The National Food security bill or NFSB aims at resolving the issue of improper food distribution among Indian citizens which implies that the country’s significant economic growth during the past decades have not reflected in its health and nourishment ratio. About 22% of Indian population is still undernourished and suffer from ailments caused by lack of nutrition. The National Family Health Survey conducted in 2005-06 showed that 40.4% children under the age of 3 years are underweight; 78.9% children in the age group of 6 months to 35 months are anemic and 33% women in the age group of 15-49 have BMI less than normal limit. The NAC’s proposal for National Food Security Bill is certainly one of the most commendable initiatives by the Indian government that is expected to do something about these shocking statistics of national nutritional deficiencies.
The food security act is being considered as a potentially ground-breaking initiative which will also have positive impacts on the national economy of India. It can actually transform the standard of living of Indian populace if executed effectively and rationally.
Features of National food security bill 2010 are as follows:
- Subsidized food grains, legally entitled to be distributed among country’s population will be increased up to 75% (90% to be distributed in the rural parts and 50% at the urban parts)
- Priority households (28% in urban areas and 46% in rural areas) will be entitled to get 35 kilos grains every month (7 kilos per person basis) at a specially subsidized rate (Millet: 1INR/kg.; Wheat 2 INR/kg.; Rice: 3 INR/kg).
- General households are entitled to 20 kilos (4 kilos per person basis) grains per month at a price not to be exceeded by 50% of the lowest support prices of rice, wheat and millet.
- The minimum price, entitlement and coverage should remain unchanged until the end of five year program.
- The categorization of general and priority household are to be decided by the government of India.
- During the first phase, entitlement of food will be extended to 72% of total population and in the final phase, complete coverage i.e. 75% will be finished (probable timeline: 31st March, 2014).
- Reformation of Public Distribution System.
- Legal food entitlements for maternal nutrition, child nutrition, destitute and other groups vulnerable to poverty and malnourishment.
Expected outcome from National food security bill:
According to estimations, food security bill in India will resolve the food distribution problem significantly. The bill is likely to ensure that the people of India living under the poverty limit will get access to cheap food grains owing to the proposed coverage and entitlement terms of the food security bill.
The large volume of grains that get wasted at the government go downs will no longer get rotten or decayed due to lack of supervision. The excess food will be given to people who actually need it and are lawfully entitled to it as citizens of India.
People who are unable to purchase grains due to the ever increasing and frequently fluctuating price of grains, will be able to procure adequate food and nutritional elements for themselves.
It will not only alleviate the country’s socio-economic status but also help Indians get optimum nutrition for themselves and their family members.
But still there are certain ambiguities about the implementation and after effects of India food security bill, as follows:
The effects of this bill on the open market, from where a section of the population will still purchase the grains for their consumption, is still uncertain. Moreover the production of grains in India is highly dependent on the weather conditions and natural calamities if any. Thus the fluctuations in grain production will significantly affect the projections and estimations of National food security bill.
Also with respect to the increasing population of India, the approximate statistics and data must be revised by the government before making any promises about the outcome of the bill.
Though the much speculated about Bill has been passed in Lok Sabha, the effects are yet being anticipated. However, if the positive aspects of the bill are implemented or exploited to the fullest, India can become a healthier and happier country with every single Indian getting adequate food to survive!