(Online Course) Contemporary Issues for IAS Mains 2012: The Hindu -Food Security & The Cup of Tantalus

The Hindu

Food Security & The Cup of Tantalus

Q. Point out the Key issues of Food Security.

  • The key issue in food security, which has received almost
    no attention from either those who advocate or those who oppose the Food
    Security Bill, is neither the adequacy of supplies nor the financial
    resources required but the question of ‘last mile’ delivery:

  • How to get the food out to close on a billion people
    spread throughout the country from the remotest hamlets to the most vibrant
    urban centres.

  • There is little point in undertaking the gargantuan task
    (and expenditure) of procuring, storing and transporting the grain unless
    the foodgrains package actually reaches the intended beneficiaries.

Q. Suggested Measures to the Successful Implementation of
Food Security.

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  • If these panchayats and nagarpalikas, and their
    respective local women’s self-help groups, are empowered through detailed
    State legislation, based on chapter XII provisions, to exercise the
    functions devolved on them in respect of food security, and provided both
    the finances and the functionaries to undertake last mile delivery, then the
    community, which has the singular stake in ensuring food security for
    itself, will be able to hold the local institution of self-government responsible for delivering or failing to
    deliver on food security.

  • First, the expression “local authority” must be replaced
    by the words “local institutions of self-government constituted under
    Articles 243G and W of the Constitution”. Second, the State legislatures
    must, in terms of these Constitutional provisions, be charged with the task
    of legislating the “duties and responsibilities” that must vest in the
    panchayats and nagarpalikas, particularly in view of Entry 28 “Public
    Distribution System” of the Eleventh
    Schedule.

  • Third, in a separate schedule to the draft bill, the
    specific functions to be devolved to each tier of the three-tier systemof
    panchayat raj should be detailed alongwith the simultaneous devolution of
    finances and functionaries to undertake last mile delivery.

  • Fourth, to avoid panchayat raj becoming sarpanch raj,
    there must be statutory provision for each elected local body to have a
    committee of members, including all lady representatives, to oversee the
    local women’s self-help groups. Fifth, the role of the District Planning
    Committees set up under Article 243 ZD (and ZE for the metropolitan areas)
    in regard to determining and projecting the district’s requirements of food
    security must be clearly spelt out.

Delete the Errors to Save the Census

Q. Point out the limitation of the Socio Economic and Caste
Census (SECC)

  • Basic information on each household from the National
    Population Register (NPR) is already pre-loaded on the tablet.

  • The tablets designed by Bharat Electronics Ltd are sturdy
    and of a relatively low cost.

  • The main problem with using them is that there is no
    paper trail for families to verify data. And often there is a slip.

  • The operators are also inadequately trained.

  • The most important area of concern is the definition of a
    household.

  • Land is another question where anomalies could
    potentially exclude millions of deserving families.

  • The trouble is that most enumerators do not even enquire
    whether the land owned by a household is irrigated and the number of crops
    sown each year — both key exclusion criteria.

  • Too many villagers are not even aware of this exercise or
    its significance. Often they are not even at home when the enumerators
    arrive.

  • So far, the data has also not been published at the gram
    sabha level for villagers to verify or apply for corrections.


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