By switching from a welfare-based to a rights-based approach, the National Food Security Act (NFSA) 2013, which was passed on July 5, 2013, symbolizes a paradigm shift in the area of food security. According to the Act, the targeted public distribution system has the legal authority to distribute subsidized food grains to up to 75 percent of the rural population and 50 percent of the urban population.
As a result, the Act covers roughly two-thirds of the population and offers them foodgrains that are significantly subsidized. All of India’s States and UTs are implementing the (NFSA) National Food Security Act of 2013. Under the GS-II of the IAS Exam, the subject is important.
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What is NFSA?
According to the terms of the National Food Security Act, ration cards will be given to beneficiaries who qualify for a certain quota of food grains. However, depending on the applicant’s eligibility, a ration card application must be made, either online or offline. The application procedure is the same for all applicants in every Indian state.
National Food Security Act information
Priority families (PHH) and Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) families, which each have a right to 35 kg of food grains per month (5 kg per person per month), are beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act. Rice, wheat, and coarse grains all cost Rs. 3 per kg, Rs. 2 per kg, and Rs. 1 per kg, respectively.
The prices of foodgrains have not been changed in the Union Budget 2022. Rice, wheat, and coarse grains would continue to be offered at the PDS Issue prices of Rs. 3, Rs. 2, and Re. 1 per kg, respectively.
- The Act became law on September 12, 2013, with effect going back to July 5, 2013.
- The Sustainable Growth Goals established by the UN General Assembly’s Goal 2 are in conformity with the Act.
- Goal 2 aims to ensure food security and find long-term solutions to abolish all types of hunger by 2030.
- The goal is to guarantee that everyone, everywhere has access to enough wholesome food to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
- The Act covers programs including the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), the Public Distribution System (PDS), and the Mid-Day Meal Scheme (MDMS).
- All of the States and the Union Territories are carrying out the Act’s provisions.
Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) notes can be downloaded from the article that is referenced.
The National Food Security Act’s goals
According to the human life cycle concept, the Act guarantees that people have access to a sufficient amount of high-quality food at prices that are affordable for them to live with dignity and for things related to or incidental to that.
Important Elements of the NFSA
The following is a description of the Act’s main features:
- Coverage: The NITI Aayog calculated the state-by-state coverage using data from the NSSO’s 2011–12 Household Consumption Expenditure Survey.
- Up to 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population can get subsidized food grains through the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), which is permitted by the Act.
- As a result, over two-thirds of the population is protected by the Act.
- Benefits: Under the Public Distribution System, food grains would be offered at significantly discounted rates.
- The Act guarantees women’s and children’s nutritional support. The MDM and ICDS programs would grant pregnant and nursing women the right to complimentary, nutrient-dense meals.
- Under the MDM and ICDS programs, kids between the ages of 6 and 14 would also be eligible to free, nutrient-dense meals.
- Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers are also given maternity benefits worth at least Rs. 6000.
- The Act further empowers women by designating the eldest female household member as the household’s head and authorizing them to issue ration cards.
- The Central Government handles the Fair Price Shop (FPS) dealers’ margins in accordance with the standards and assists the States in covering the costs paid by them for the delivery of foodgrains within the State.
- In the case that food grains are not supplied, the beneficiaries are given a food security allowance.
- Transparency: To ensure transparency, provisions have been developed for disclosing PDS-related records.
Who are the National Food Security Act’s beneficiaries?
Under two categories of beneficiaries, the Act covers two-thirds of the entire population:
- Households under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY)
AAY households are those that are headed by widows, disabled individuals, or people 60 or older without a secure source of societal support.
Typically, it also takes into account the houses of those who are poor.
There is also support for both women and children.
- PHH Priority Households
People who live in eligible homes, or PHHs, are granted the right to receive food grains at discounted costs by the NFSA. This group consists of a sizable portion of priority sector ration cardholders. This is an initiative to combat poverty.
The states and the UTs are responsible for identifying eligible households within the scope of TPDS coverage as specified for each state.
Regarding the NFSA State Ranking Index
The State Ranking Index for NFSA was developed after states were consulted in order to monitor how the NFSA and other reform initiatives are being carried out nationwide. The Index highlights state and local initiatives, encourages cross-learning, and scales up reform efforts by all states and UTs.
In the future, the Index will include distribution and procurement for the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY). The NFSA Distribution is the current Index’s main concern. This number, however, does not account for the level of hunger, malnutrition, or both in a particular state or union territory. The Index is built upon three main pillars that run the gamut from TPDS through the entire NFSA deployment.
- The first pillar is made up of the NFSA, which evaluates coverage, targeting, and Act provisions.
- The distribution, transportation, and last-mile delivery of food grains to Fair Price Shops (FPS) are all taken into account in the second pillar’s analysis of the delivery system.
- The third and final pillar focuses on the department’s nutrition-related initiatives.
Food Security’s Importance
The Bengal Famine of 1943, which occurred under British colonial rule, is what first raised worries about India’s food security. Because it will have a favorable impact on the other factors affecting a nation’s growth, food security is of the utmost importance to a nation.
- The agricultural industry is strengthened.
- The government can control food costs with its help.
- Being a labor-intensive industry, agriculture would benefit from a growth in employment opportunities. As a result, poverty would drop and economic growth would be improved.
- The public’s overall health would improve if nutritious food was more readily available.
- The stability of the country and the world are also impacted by food security.
What the National Food Security Act Means
Global food security is the idea that everyone has access to basic, wholesome food at all times. It is distinguished by the accessibility, consumption, and stability of food.
- The Indian Constitution does not specifically mention the right to eat.
- Before the NFSA was passed, it was believed that the correct to live guaranteed by Article 21 also covered the right to a dignified existence, which might include the right to food and other essentials.
Duties Under The Nfsa
The duties of the federal government, state government, and local governments are explicitly stated in the NFSA.
1. Central Government Requirements:
- Under the TPDS, the Central Government shall distribute to the State Governments the necessary food grains from the central pool.
- The number of people living in eligible households must be taken into consideration when the government distributes resources.
- In accordance with the allotment to the State Governments, the Central Government will also pay for the transportation of food grains.
- Assist the state governments in covering their costs related to intrastate transportation, management of the food grains, and FPS margins.
- Create and maintain a variety of storage facilities.
2. Responsibilities of State Governments:
- The State Government will be in charge of putting the various programs into action and keeping an eye on them.
- Set up intra-state distributions to get the food grains to the recipients.
- Determine the households who are eligible and the recipients, and make sure they can make use of the programs’ benefits.
- Build and maintain scientific storage facilities at the district and block levels to house the food grains that have been allotted.
- In accordance with the Public Distribution System (Control) Order of 2001, establish structured licensing procedures for the FPS.
3. Responsibilities of the municipal government:
- They are in charge of making sure the Act is implemented correctly.
- The State Government may give them additional responsibility for carrying out the TPDS.
- The duties assigned to local governments by the state governments would be their responsibility to carry out.
Issues with Food Security
There are several obstacles to overcome in the fight against food security, among them are:
- Climate Change: The unpredictable rains and rise in global temperatures make farming challenging. A change in temperature affects not only crops but also fisheries, cattle, and other creatures that are raised for food.
- Lack of Access: Access to isolated regions is limited. Due to access issues, the tribals and other populations residing in distant locations are unable to take advantage of the programs implemented for food security.
- Overpopulation: A significant rise in the population without a corresponding rise in agricultural output leads to food scarcity.
- Non-food crops: The area used for crop cultivation has decreased as a result of crops cultivated for industrial uses like biofuels and colors.
- Migration from rural to urban areas: This is problematic since it makes it difficult to decide which PDS shop to purchase subsidies from.
Criticisms of NFSA
The responsibility for carrying out the NFSA effectively rests with the states and UTs, and because state governance varies, so does the effectiveness of implementation in each state.
- Lack of Transparency: A 2016 audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) found that the NFSA was being misused by the wrong individuals.
- It charges numerous states with enforcing the NFSA despite knowing that their beneficiary list is fictitious.
- Food grains may leak from the PDS if they do not reach the intended recipients. There are three possible types of leakages:
- theft when food grains are being transported, diversion to non-beneficiaries at fair pricing stores, and omission of eligible beneficiaries from the list.
- Storage: The CAG audit found that the amount of food grains that were allotted had insufficient room for storage.
- People frequently remark that the quality of food grains is subpar and that they sometimes need to be combined with other grains in order to be edible. There have also been complaints made that the grains contain pebbles and other non-food items.
The fact that the NFSA does not guarantee a universal right to food is a key issue in the discussion of the law.
How to make the NFSA more effective
In order to increase agricultural productivity, the government should implement integrated policy frameworks and offer options for greater food storage.
- The procedure will be made more efficient by using information technology from the time the food grains purchased until they are distributed.
- For instance, the DigiLocker facility has been pushed for inclusion in the PDS since January 2021. This would make e-ration cards available to beneficiaries of the One National One Ration Card Scheme whenever and whenever they want.
- The recipients should have access to information on the entire process, from the quality of the food grains to the storage facilities where the grains were kept.
- One ration card would effectively reduce confusion, especially for migrants, since beneficiaries would have the freedom to choose from any PDS outlet of their choosing (for further information, see PIB dated Aug. 9, 2019).
- Add all the states to the Integrated Management of PDS (IMPDS) coverage area.
These are the main characteristics and advantages of the National Food Security Act. It’s crucial to submit your ration card application as soon as possible if you qualify for the advantages made available by this Act. With this card, the owner has discounted access to necessities. Additionally, a legitimate KYC document is also a ration card.
For instance, you may use it as address verification while requesting a mortgage. Visit Bajaj Markets, which has partnered with several lenders who provide home loans at alluring interest rates, if you currently have a ration card and want to buy or construct your own home.