Excess stocks of the Food Corporation of India must be released to the poor -Jean Drèze

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published Published on Apr 9, 2020   modified Modified on Apr 9, 2020

-The Indian Express

Jean Dreze writes: Releasing food is all the more crucial as the emergency cash transfers proposed by the finance minister are likely to have severe limitations.

How would you feel if a family were to let its weakest members starve, even as the house’s granary is full to the brim? That is what is happening in India today.

Everyone knows that the country has large food stocks, and that some of this could be used to protect people from hunger during the coronavirus crisis. The enormity of the situation, however, has escaped many observers.

Twenty-odd years ago, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court asking for the country’s gigantic food stocks to be used for public works and other social security schemes. This public interest litigation paved the way for important food security initiatives such as mid-day meals, public distribution system (PDS) reforms, and later on, the National Food Security Act (NFSA). Taken together, these food-based schemes involve the distribution of some 50-60 million tonnes of rice and wheat every year. Yet, food stocks have continued to grow because procurement levels have also increased.

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The Indian Express, 9 April, 2020, https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/coronavirus-lockdown-food-for-poor-migrants-mass-exodus-jean-dreze-6353790/

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