Food Security: Demand of time or a political gimmick

Food Security: Demand of time or a political gimmick


Food security is one of the key issues that are relevant for India in current times. It is important to ensure that food security is a reality in our country where a large population of urban and rural poor are suffering from malnourishment and starvation. Hunger is not fulfilled by a few promises though. India needs to establish a permanent scheme for ensuring availability of food to marginalized sections of society who are suffering from hunger. The reality is that any single scheme will be inadequate to meet the needs of such a massive population. The scheme needs to be coupled with private sector initiatives as well, if there has to be any lasting change in the welfare and adequate nourishment of marginalized sections of society.


• It does not matter if bills are political gimmicks. If they can provide even a little relief to the poor sections of society, it would be for the benefit of all. However, any scheme must be implemented with a realistic idea about the needs and requirements of the Indian population. Whether our economy can sustain the scheme should also be an important point for consideration.

• Food security is a vital issue for the welfare of Indians. Many governments have made a good start by promoting food security measures and pro-poor legislation. Where they have failed is the political and economic implications of launching the program. Whether a program or policy will be properly implemented by the local administration is also a big issue.

• Measures such as the recent bill for food security are a start for solving the problem. Subsidized food will be available to pregnant ladies and children below a certain age. Food will be available at cheap rates to nearly 70% of the Indian population. The bill is attempting to solve problems such as inadequate access to subsidized food.

• The disadvantage of any such legislation is the economic pressure created by implementing such a scheme. Inflation is crucial concern nowadays. People are perturbed about the state of the economy. There are lobbies within the political and commercial circles which view any law in terms of its economic ramifications. This is correct given the current economic scenario. Therefore, any legislation should also be examined from the viewpoint of the economic sector to get a good grasp of its implications for the economy.

• Another problem is a crucial reliance on the monsoons and the state of the Indian agriculture. This can be a huge issue if there is scarcity of food grains due to climatic conditions. As global warming is becoming a major factor in influencing the weather, it has become important to consider this angle as well before launching any scheme for food distribution.

• Corruption at the administrative and local levels is a major deterrent in the effective implementation of such schemes. Even if parties want to pass such schemes for gaining political mileage, their goal will not be met. This is because there will be irregularities in the implementation of the scheme due to regional and political issues. Any scheme must be passed only with the complete consensus and agreement of regional parties. Some mechanism for monitoring whether the scheme has been properly implemented should also be there.

• The shaky state of the rupee against the dollar is not inspiring confidence in the markets. Any populist measures can have serious repercussions for the economy as well. This should be considered before any scheme is passed.


Food security is a crucial issue of our times. But any legislation that is passed to ensure it should be examined in terms of its viability and implications for the economy. However, this should not deter successive governments of any party/parties from passing such schemes to ensure the welfare of the poor. Our nation must be well fed and cared for, if we have to attain superpower status.
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  • Food Security: Demand of time or a political gimmick -Farhana Afreen (04/02/14)
  • Food Security: Demand of time or a political gimmick

    Food security bill is not a demand of time; in fact, it has been a demand since the past 10 years or even before that. An urgent passing of the food security bills when general elections is just around the corners is nothing but a political gimmick. It is not that the party came into power only yesterday and is afraid that it has only a day’s chance to bring about a change in the lives of the poorer half of the country.

    Reminds me of a bollywood movie where the lead protagonist was to be the Chief Minister of the state for just one day and he does all good things urgently to utilize his power in the best way for the benefit of the nation. UPA was not in any such situation when it passed the bill.

    The question is what was the government doing in the past 9 years when it has ruled with blind faith of the people and dumb face to every demand of the commons? The nation cannot forget the scams of millions that was robbed off the taxes paid by the meagre earning people of the nation.

    The political gimmick of providing food to 75 percent of rural population and 50 percent of urban population might work to let them grab a few favouring votes from the people but those that understand their dirty game would never surrender to such a publicity stunt.

    Malnourished children, pregnant women, starving people, children below the age of 14 years etc. towards whom the food bill is directive have been suffering in the country since ages. Was the government deaf, dumb and blind to their basic needs in all these years?

    In a certain statement made by a member of UPA, it was published that the promise for food bill was made in 2009 and the first draft was ready in 2011 but the Union Cabinet finally gave its approval to the draft food Bill only in March this year. If it takes 9 years for a government to respond to the basic needs of its people, what more could we expect from them in other cases of empowering of women and strict laws for crime against women?

    The ordinance on food security gives the country's two-third population the right to get 5 Kg of foodgrains every month at extremely subsidised rates of Rs 1-3 per KG. It is being said that the programme, when put into action, will be the biggest in the world with an approximated expenditure of Rs 125,000 crore per annum on supply of near about 62 million tonnes of rice, wheat and coarse cereals to 67 per cent of the population. The quality of rice and wheat grains that shall be provided in this plan shall be poorer undoubtedly. After a year or two, another scam disclosed might come associated with the amount that was supposed to be spent in this plan.

    What the country needs is a responsive government that understands the needs of the people and acts instantaneously to make the needs accessible to the people and not an ignorant government that wakes from deep slumber only when elections are around the corners. The political gimmick is of no use if it is meant for pre election campaigning.