The National Food Security Act: Real possibilities of ensuring nutritional support and economic security to all vulnerable households

In this March 20, 2012 file photo, a tribal woman shows her ration card to receive coupons to purchase subsidized rice from a fair price shop under the Public Distribution System in Rayagada, Odisha.

The Hindu (Opinion), January 13, 2016

The National Food Security Act is finally making headway in the poorest States. Amplified by reforms in the Public Distribution System, a modicum of nutritional support and economic security to all vulnerable households is now a real possibility.

Dhobargram is a small Santhal village in Bankura district of West Bengal, with 100 households or so. Most of them are poor, or even very poor, by any plausible standard. There are also some relatively well-off households — they are not rich, but they have things like concrete houses and motorcycles, often thanks to a permanent job in the public sector. Should this small minority of better-off households be excluded from the Public Distribution System (PDS)? […]

When they are included, there is greater pressure on the system to work. […]

Judging from brief enquiries in Jharkhand and Odisha, which are also in the process of rolling out the NFSA, there are similar developments there. The biggest challenge, responsible for the delayed rollout of NFSA in many States, is to identify eligible households. Even with near-universal coverage (86 per cent in rural Jharkhand and 82 per cent in rural Odisha), this is a daunting task.  […]

Perhaps for the first time, there are real possibilities of ensuring a modicum of nutritional support and economic security to all vulnerable households.

(Jean Dreze is a Visiting Professor at the Department of Economics, Ranchi University.)

Source: National Food Secuity Act: Leaving no poor person behind – The Hindu
Address: http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/leaving-no-poor-person-behind/article8098918.ece
Date Visited: Sun Jan 24 2016 20:36:16 GMT+0100 (CET)

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