Do you think India’s public distribution system meets the objectives of food security for the poorest? Critically examine. What are the key areas of improvement? Discuss.
क्या आपको लगता है कि भारत की सार्वजनिक वितरण प्रणाली सबसे गरीब लोगों के लिए खाद्य सुरक्षा के उद्देश्यों को पूरा करती है? समालोचनात्मक जाँच कीजिए। सुधार के प्रमुख क्षेत्र कौन से हैं? चर्चा करें।
Candidates can start the answer with highlighting concept of PDS its role in Indian food security programme and then write about its achieved objectives also write its shortfall and issues in the end with give few suggestions to improve.
PDS evolved as a system of management of scarcity through distribution of foodgrains at affordable prices. Over the years, PDS has become an important part of Government’s policy for management of food security in the country.
PDS meeting objective of food security for poor:
- It has helped in stabilising food prices and making food available to the poor at affordable prices.
- Such as Landless labourers, marginal farmers, rural artisans /craftsmen, such as potters, tanners, blacksmiths, slum dwellers, destitute and persons earning their livelihood on daily basis in the informal sector in both rural and urban areas has benefited.
- NFSA its life cycle approach and rights-based and justiciable right framework, wherein special provisions for supplementary nutrition have been made for pregnant women and lactating mothers and children in the age group of 6 months to 14 years and subsidised foodgrains to 75 per cent of the rural poor and 50 per cent of the urban poor population.
Trailing in GHI Ranking:
- India ranks 101 on the Global Hunger Index 2021 based on indicators like undernourished population and children suffering wasting and stunting.
Issues associated with programme:
- Identification of beneficiaries and social exclusion: Studies have shown that targeting mechanisms such as TPDS are prone to large inclusion and exclusion errors.
- Lack of Efficient Management Framework: India lacks strict management framework for food security. Public Distribution System faces challenges like leakages and diversion of food-grains, inclusion/exclusion errors, fake and bogus ration cards, and weak grievance redressal and social audit mechanism.
- Nutritional Insecurity: The food basket comprises mostly foodgrains like rice and wheat, which provide calories to beneficiaries, but have not been able to address protein and micronutrient deficiencies, which are prevalent in India.
- Inconsistent quality: The majority of the respondents reported that the quality of ration is inconsistent— sometimes it is fine, sometimes it is awful. The complaints were mainly of bad quality of wheat. Most of the recipients were unsatisfied with the quality of wheat and rice.
- Improving storage capacities: As it is understood that storage capacities need to be improved ensuring proper storage of procured food grains for PDS schemes.
- Vigilance Committee and social auditing: At the State, District, Block and Fair Price Shop (FPS) level to check corruption, leakages and nutritional quality.
- To eliminate exclusion errors: Experts like Abhijeet Banerjee and Raghuram Rajan have gone on record recommending a temporary ration card for a period of six months to everyone who is in need with minimal checks.
- Nutritional Security at Large: Adding to staple foods that are widely consumed, this is an excellent method to improve the health of a poor section of the population.