Food Security Bill (FSB) – Questions in Air

Food Security Bill

Food crisis in India is not due to lack of food production as the commoner might think. We have enough food stored in the warehouses, let to be eaten by the rodents. But the real problem lies in the flawed logistics of the food supply and distribution chain. The current Public Distribution System (PDS) needs to be restructured, voice the experts. The FSB proposes to provide the food at the subsidized rate to nearly a two-third of the population.

The real problem lies in proper identification of the beneficiaries in a short span of time, in case if the plans kick starts by August 20th, as the Delhi CM Sheela Dikshit and Punjab CM Hooda insist. In India the states under focus on the scheme are Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh in parts. It also happens that among these Rajasthan, UP and MP is among the most densely populated states of the nations which account for about 45% of the national population. So identifying the right beneficiaries in a short span is next to possible. Even if a mass driven identification process is accelerated in a war footing mode, the validity of the findings could be challenged.

Next is the problem of under nourishment and mal-nourishment in India. This FSB as of now doesn’t have anything to say in this angle. So even if the scheme sees the light the holistic achievement of its aims would not be warranted.

 FSB 2

In order to get the scheme that is going to feed a population of about 82 crore, the continual supply of food supply must be ensured. Say, as of now there is no problem with the procurement of the food which could be rooted via the Food Corporation of India or by other agencies. But in case the food production drops how that situation is likely to be managed to keeps the ball rolling? Nothing could be precisely predictable under current volatility of the climate changes.

In such a case we would be left with no other choice but to go for importing the food. With the import export graph already not matching up, a heavy additional import for this cause would put burden on money value, weakening it further.

Unlike many other schemes, where funding for the programme is always a collaborative venture of the State and Central Governments, this scheme is to be entirely funded solely by the Central government. If so, how could the financial resource for such a gigantic cost is to be generated?

Apart from the economic perspective of procuring food, especially rice, through imports might trigger a shortage in the global rice market. This is because, the global rice market is thin, and so is likely to destabilize faster.

Lot more questions are in air waiting for an answer. Since the canvas of the scheme is bigger than anything else, incomparable with the models of the past, it is going to be a game never played before.

The current Indian scenario in relation to this topic, against the global backdrop can be understood by mulling over the following data.

 

  • India ranks 66th in the Global Food Index scores 2012( in the ‘availability category), next to Sri Lanka standing at 62th and ahead of Pakistan which finds itself in 75th position. The US tops this chart, followed by Denmark and Norway. China being the best comparable model (in terms of population) stands 39 in the ranking, which should be noted in particular.

 

  • The Global Hunger Index (GHI) score is a comprehensive tool designed to check the intensity hunger globally, calculated each year by the International Food Policy Research Institute. The GHI indicates the successes and failures of nations in hunger reduction. In GHI India has scored 22.9 compared to 30.3 as on 1990. Whereas, comparing the scores with China would leave us sad. China’s score on 2012 is a mere 5.1 compared to the 1990 score, 11.8. The GHI scores are classified as low for scores <=4.9 and 5.0-9.9 is categorized as moderate. While scores 10- 19.9 are termed serious.

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