Despite being one of the biggest producers of food supplies, India has a huge amount of population that not only suffers from malnutrition but also cannot afford three meals a day.
The UPA led govt, constructed the Food Security Bill in a bid to provide food security to 75% of the rural and 50% of the urban population with focus on nutritional needs of children, pregnant and lactating women.
President Pranab Mukherjee signed the ordinance on food security on 6th July, 2013. With this began the historic endeavour to give the nation's two-third population, the right to get 5kg of food grain every month, at highly subsidized rates of Rs 1-3 per kg.
According to the Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Prof KV Thomas,the bill will lead to massive PDS reforms including doorstep delivery of food grains, end-to-end computerisation, leveraging “Aadhaar”, etc. PDS will become more transparent and subject to grievance redressal at appropriate levels with provisions for penalties and compensation.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi today launched the ambitious programme in Delhi on the birth anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, while hailing it as an "unparalleled" scheme in the world.
The scheme was rolled out in three Congress-ruled states of Delhi, Haryana and Uttarakhand even as the consideration of the Bill was scuttled in Parliament by the Opposition, which cornered the government on the issue of missing files related to the coal block allocation.
Unveiling the scheme by handing over food grain packets and Aadhar-based smart cards to a number of poor women, Gandhi lauded UPA government for bringing "revolutionary changes" in the life of common man but noted that the struggle is not yet over and a lot was still to be done.
Characteristics of the Bill:
* Up to 75% of the rural population and up to 50% of urban population are to be covered under Targeted Public Distribution System.
* At least 3kg of foodgrains per person per month to be given to general category households,at prices not exceeding 50% of Minimum Support Price.
* The priority households (46% in rural areas and 28% in urban areas) to have a monthly entitlement of 35 Kgs (equivalent to 7 Kgs per person) at a subsidized price of Rs. 1 per Kg for millets, Rs. 2 per Kg for wheat and Rs. 3 per Kg for rice.
* The oldest adult woman in each house would be considered the head of that household when issuing the ration card.
* Children aged six months to 14 years would get take-home ration or hot cooked food.
* The work of identification of eligible households will be left to the states/Union Territory's, which may frame their own criteria or use social, economic and caste census data.
* Maternity benefit to pregnant women and lactating mothers.
* Three-tier independent grievance redressal system.
* Food Security Allowance in case of non-supply of foodgrains or meals.