Grain aplenty and the crisis of hunger: on universal Public Distribution System -Dipa Sinha

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published Published on Jun 30, 2020   modified Modified on Jun 30, 2020

-The Hindu

The focus on One Nation One Ration Card is misplaced when what is needed is a universal Public Distribution System

With the economic crisis continuing on the one hand and the health system crumbling under the burden of rising COVID-19 cases on the other, it is clear that it will take a long time for things to get back to “normal”. Unemployment is high and it will take a while for lost livelihoods to be rebuilt, especially given the fact that India was already facing an economic slowdown along with high levels of inequality. Among other interventions to revive demand in the economy and create employment, it is absolutely essential that food support in the form of free/subsidised grains is made available to all without any disruptions.

An inadequate response

As a measure to address hunger, the central government announced as part of the 1.70-lakh crore relief package under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) in the last week of March that it would provide 5kg of foodgrains and 1 kg of pulses for free to all those who are beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) for three months.

As it became obvious that many were not part of the NFSA, the government, in May, almost two months after the lockdown was initiated, announced its expansion to cover an additional eight crore individuals for two months to ensure that migrants are included under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan package. This basically meant each State being given foodgrain to the tune of 10% more than what they normally get under the NFSA. Many States were already covering more beneficiaries than was allotted to them by the NFSA, and some States made additional temporary provisions for these two months.

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The Hindu, 30 June, 2020,

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