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Day 38 – Q. 3 Analyze the impact of the National Food Security Act on addressing malnutrition and food insecurity in India. How have various states implemented the provisions of the Act, and what challenges have they faced? Discuss.

  • IASbaba
  • January 4, 2023
  • 0
GS 2, Indian Polity, TLP-UPSC Mains Answer Writing
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Analyze the impact of the National Food Security Act on addressing malnutrition and food insecurity in India. How have various states implemented the provisions of the Act, and what challenges have they faced? Discuss.

भारत में कुपोषण और खाद्य असुरक्षा को संबोधित करने पर राष्ट्रीय खाद्य सुरक्षा अधिनियम के प्रभाव का विश्लेषण करें। विभिन्न राज्यों ने अधिनियम के प्रावधानों को कैसे लागू किया है और उन्हें किन चुनौतियों का सामना करना पड़ा है? चर्चा करें।


Approach –

In this question candidates need to write about impact of food security act on addressing malnutrition and food insecurity in India ,In second part of answer write about how states implemented this act and issues they faced .

Introduction-

The National Food Security Act, 2013 aims to provide subsidized food grains to approximately two-third of the country’s population. The enactment of this landmark legislation, brought a paradigm shift in approach to food security, from welfare to rights-based approach

Body-  

Impact  of NFSA in eliminating hunger and malnutrition-

  • According to a UN report number of undernourished people in India has declined by 60 million between 2006 to 2019.
  • Improved access to food grains have improved the hunger outcomes amongst the poor and underprivileged.
  • Wide coverage of the 2/3rd population have increased resilience in the poor against income shocks.
  • Stunting in children under 5 years of age, according to the UN report have decreased from 47.8% in 2012 to 34.7% in 2019.
  • Monetary compensation has compensated against wage loss during pregnancy. PWLM can now access to healthier food options like fruits, vegetables etc.
  • The awareness generated by the Asha workers have increased the number of infants who were exclusively breastfed from 11.2 million in 2012 to 13.9 million in 2019.
  • However, there is still a long way for India to reach nutritional sufficiency as:
  • Number of women in reproductive age suffering from anaemia grew from 165.6million in 2012 to 175.6 million in 2019.
  • The CNNS have highlighted prevalence of hunger/malnutrition in India children.
  • The number of obese adults in India grew from 25.2 million in 2012 to 34.3 million in 2016.
  • Institutional infrastructure for delivering the provisions of the food bill is poor.
  • Widespread corruption has siphoned off the benefits to ghost beneficiaries and middlemen.

Implementation of NFSA by states –

  • After consulting with states, the State Ranking Index for NFSA was created to track the implementation of the NFSA and other reform measures across the country.
  • The Index emphasizes the initiatives made by States and UTs, fosters cross-learning, and scales up reform initiatives by all States and UTs.
  • The amount of hunger, if any, malnutrition, or both, in a certain state or union territory is not, however, reflected by this statistic.
  • Three major pillars that span the full NFSA implementation through TPDS are the foundation of the Index.
  • The NFSA, which assesses coverage, targeting, and Act provisions, forms the first pillar.
  • The second pillar analyses the delivery system while considering the distribution, transportation, and last-mile delivery of foodgrains to Fair Price Shops (FPS).
  • The department’s nutrition activities are the subject of the third and final pillar.
  • The effective implementation of the NFSA remains with the states/UTs and as governance differs from state to state, the effectiveness of the implementation would also differ in each state.

Challenges states faced while implementing NFSA-

  • Lack of Transparency: According to a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) audit conducted in 2016, the wrong people were benefiting from the NFSA.
  • It accuses many states of implementing the NFSA despite owning the information that their beneficiaries list is spurious.
  • Leakages in PDS: a leakage indicates that the food grains do not reach the intended beneficiaries. The leakages may be of three types:
  • pilferage during transportation of food grains
  • diversion at fair price shops to non-beneficiaries
  • exclusion of entitled beneficiaries from the list.
  • Storage: According to the CAG audit, the available storage space was inadequate for the allocated quantity of food grains.
  • Quality of food grains: people often complain that the quality of the food grains is not up to the mark and that the grains sometimes have to be mixed with other grains to be edible. Complaints stating that the grains also consist of non-food particles such as pebbles have also been registered.

Ways to increase the effectiveness of NFSA-

  • The usage of Information Technology throughout the process from acquisition of the food grains to distribution will aid in enhancing the effectiveness of the process.
  • For example, in January 2021, the DigiLocker facility has been advocated for adoption in the PDS. This is to help make e-ration cards accessible for the beneficiaries anytime from anywhere under the One National One Ration Card Scheme.

Conclusion-

Food bill has revolutionized the access to food grains; however, the need is to move towards nutritional security and not just food security. Further the structural bottlenecks in the implementation food bill should be corrected by leverage of technology.

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