Right to Food Campaign demands comprehensive food security Act

Protesting against the Centre’s proposal to extend the cash transfer scheme to the Public Distribution System, the Right to Food Campaign on Saturday demanded that the government bring in a comprehensive national food security Act that provides for universal PDS. Ensuring nutrition through various measures should be the focus of the Bill.

The Bill is under consideration of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food. Participating in the concluding session of the three-day protest rally here, economist Jayati Ghosh argued that a universal PDS was an essential part of sound economic policy. She expressed the apprehension that the main beneficiaries of cash transfers would be commercial enterprises.

While Nikhil Dey of the Masdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan was appalled that the government was holding on to huge foodgrains stock rather than distribute it to the poor, Bezwada Wilson representing the Safai Karamchari Andolan observed that in a welfare state this sort of dharna would not be necessary if food security and other basic needs were addressed. A.K. Shiva Kumar pointed out that the Unique Identification scheme ended up excluding the poor from the system, instead of including them.

Activist Jean Dreze recalled the earlier achievements of the Right to Food Campaign and pointed out that it was about time that a comprehensive Act was brought, not to indulge “piecemeal measures”.

Kavita Srivastava said the struggle for people’s right to food will continue and the Campaign will hold a convention on the right to food in New Delhi during the budget session. The Campaign, a conglomeration of several NGOs, has been seeking universal PDS linked to Integrated Child Development Scheme.

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