The National Food Security Bill 2013 is yet another feather in the UPA’s aam aadmi cap (Aug. 27). One must also compliment all political parties on setting their ideological differences aside, having a marathon and healthy debate in Parliament, and then exercising their choice.
Umesh Chandra P.V.G.,
One admires UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi for her robust optimism in saying that resources must be found. But has she thought of how 2014 will place an additional burden on the government in terms of resources? Eligible beneficiaries have to be first identified. Foul play in the process cannot be ruled out as all and sundry will clamour for the benefits.
Finally, if the UPA still manages to lose power and the BJP forms the next government, will it implement the scheme?
Such social welfare measures are good in themselves, but reaching out to 67 per cent of the population is mind-boggling, to say the least.
A. Michael Dhanaraj,
The debate involving members across the political spectrum has come as a breath of fresh air at the time when disruptions and pandemonium have taken centre stage in Parliament. While taking pride in the fact that it has finally managed to pass its ambitious food Bill in accordance with the wishes of its party president, the Congress should not be oblivious to the ills plaguing the PDS and the need to address them in a time-bound manner so that food security reaches all beneficiaries. Considering the entrenched public perception across the country that the Congress is independent India’s most corrupt government, it is too early to say whether its poll weapon will act as a game-changer in 2014.
It is a great success to the Congress-led UPA-II in not only playing its vote-bank politics but also ensuring bliss to nearly 70 per cent of India’s population. Indeed, it is a challenge to any government that comes to power to continue with the proposals. India is a rich country with poor people and if proper measures are taken to control wastage of food and food grains at various storage points and transitions, this project could indeed be the big message to the world.
E. Rajakumar Arulanandham,
Now that the Bill has been passed by the Lok Sabha, the next step is to ensure that there are no malpractices. Then, India will be a role model for all other countries grappling with hunger and malnutrition.
The euphoria has to be tempered with the realisation that the UPA government has a poor record in implementing rights-based laws. It has been uncomfortable with citizens using the RTI Act to dig out corruption cases. RTI activists have had to wage a relentless battle to secure information from government departments. The RTE, which was passed with fanfare, has not ensured that poor children secure admission to private schools in the neighbourhood. The MGNREGA has alleviated rural distress, but its failure to create durable assets has deprived the rural economy of long-term revival. The point is the government seems more interested in showcasing laws as achievements during election campaigns than ensuring their proper implementation.
The government says that five kg of rice/wheat will be supplied per head per month. For 82 crore people identified by the government as eligible for this under the PDS, the total is 82 crore multiplied by five kg, which is 41 lakh tonnes per month alone. For a year, the total quantity is 492 lakh tonnes for the PDS alone. Then what about the needs of the remaining 68 crore of people? Where are the land, water and, importantly, the farmer for all this? Another scam in the making to meet the needs of those who do not come under the PDS?
A. Pandi Ravichandran,
If the food Bill brings happiness to about 80 crore poor people, it will also bring untold suffering and financial misery to about 100 crore people who are middle class. Populist measures are making things difficult. For example, fine rice, which was available for Rs.38 a kg in Andhra Pradesh now costs Rs.50 a kg. It should not be a policy of robbing Peter to pay Paul. The tragedy is that our politicians never think of real growth and are after shortcuts to electoral gains.
A.V. Reddi Sastri,
One also faces a situation where the Bill, a fine example of vote-bank politics, will certify India as being a nation of quantity, and certainly not of quality. It may lead many to believe that total or partial charity is the answer to eliminate poverty.
One envisions many becoming idle, doing little or no work. The country needs citizens with an amount of self-dignity and pride who will work more to enrich the economy and end hunger and squalor.
Victor Frank A.,
We boast of self-sufficiency in foodgrain production but how much of this actually reaches the poor and the needy? Thousands of tonnes of foodgrains rot every year in FCI godowns.
Don’t we need a Bill to ensure the security of our foodgrains? How the provisions of the food Bill are going to be implemented is anybody’s guess.
I don’t see anything historic in its passing. Soon, it is going to remain only on paper with minimum or no implementation. While there are so many laws ensuring benefits to the poor, how many are implemented? Farmers commit suicide en masse. What has the government done to stop this shame? What about interlinking of rivers? Let existing laws be implemented. Let the promises made be fulfilled. The food Bill is just a poll gimmick.
T. Anand Raj,
The days of UPA-II are numbered, and it is desperately clutching at any straw it can find to try to remain in power. The country has not forgotten the multiple scams that also run into lakh crores of rupees
The food Bill is another example of wastage of money.