India's new food security law has made food security a right of the people instead of a welfare measure taken by the government, Food Minister KV Thomas said on Monday.
Enacting the food security legislation is a landmark achievement in giving right to food to millions, Thomas said at the opening session of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on World Food Security at Rome, according to an official release. "It (the food law) marks a paradigm shift in approach to food security in India -- from being a welfare measure to a rights-based approach," he said, adding that with this legislation, India has shown its commitment to ensuring food security for all.
Thomas asserted that with recent trends in higher food grain production and sufficient stocks, the country would be able to implement the act successfully. Reiterating India's commitment to contain food prices volatility, he said the government has taken several measures - both administrative and fiscal - to contain price rise of essential commodities and these are "showing promising results".
The recent analysis of Indian market data shows declining prices of food during August 2013 as compared to the corresponding period in the previous year, he said. Extending India's support to international efforts for achieving food security, the minister said it is always at the forefront to contribute to the food aid programmes to needy countries. "India has removed restrictions on export of cereals especially rice and wheat. By this measure, during 2012-13, more than 10 million tonnes of rice and 5 million tonnes of wheat have been exported from India. This has helped many nations in meeting their requirements of food grains," he said.
The food security bill was passed by the Lok Sabha Aug 26 while the Rajya Sabha cleared it Sep 2. The largest such scheme anywhere in the world, the food security law gives two-thirds of India's 1.2 billion population the right to subsidised grains. Under the legislation, beneficiaries would get five kg of grain per person per month, including rice at Rs.3 per kg, wheat at Rs.2 per kg and coarse grains at Re.1 per kg.