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National Food Security Act 2013

Community Mobilization
A Training Of Trainers Manual

Author- Sachin Kumar Jain (Vikas Sanvad)

Cartoons- Sharad Sharma
Translated by
Advocate Dr Shalu Nigam
It is important to know that hunger and malnutrition do not exist because
of inadequate availability or non availability of natural resources. Most of
the time, this situation of non availability of food is created. For their vested
interests, the state, the market and certain sections of the society play a
significant role in creating this situation of non availability of food to
larger sections of the society.

In this booklet, an attempt has been made to discuss this pertinent issue
relating to food insecurity and further an endeavour has been made to
highlight the role of social, political, economic and policy related issues
relating to food insecurity.

Just like availability or non availability of natural resources may not play a
crucial role in aggravating the situation of food insecurity, similarly,
hunger cannot be eradicated simply by implementing a few weak schemes or
programmes without any will to improve the ground level situation.

In the year 2001, several organizations have filed a Public Interest

Litigation before the Supreme Court of India to deal with the situation of
hunger and starvation deaths and demanded to set the accountability of
state towards the rights of citizens. This legal process continued for more
than one and a half decade.It was repeatedly proved that the condition
relating to malnutrition and hunger has been created because of wrong
policies and decisions taken by the state. On the one hand, the food is
decaying in government store houses / godowns and on the other hand 40
out of 100 people are starving and dying of hunger or are made to sleep
hungry every night because they have no access to food.

The production of food has never come down as our farmers and
workers have been toiling hard to keep up the level of agricultural output
despite numerous problems like drought, flood, increased use of chemicals
etc. Yet, the number of starving and hungry people could not come down
and all this happens because of wrong decisions taken by the state and the
ruling class.

The legal battle continued for long. Many people, across the nation,
were dying due to starvation and hunger. Those sensitized towards the
cause including activists, peoples organizations, academics, journalists,
grassroot level social workers, all were perturbed by this situation.
Therefore, a campaign was initiated to eradicate hunger and prevent
starvation deaths. After several struggles and interventions made at various
levelsbesidesthe directions given by the Supreme Court of India, finally on
September 10, 2013, the Food Security Act was enacted in the country.

In this booklet we attempt to highlight the rights granted to common

citizens under this law.
The Food Security Act, 2013 prescribe for social audit of all schemes
and programmes initiated by the government to deal with the issue of
food insecurity, hunger and malnutrition. As per provisions of this law,
people through their participation in local bodies are empowered to
come together to monitor and audit the implementation of the schemes.
Fundamentally, this work should be done by local bodies (including Gram
Sabha, Panchayat, Ward Sabha). Social audit is essential to implement
the provisions under the law. Public hearing and peoples participation in
the process of governance is also necessary to bring in transparency and
accountability at the ground level. To ensure that law is implemented in its
true spirit, it is crucial that the social activists and the organizations should
come together and play an active role besides representatives of local
bodies. This booklet will attempt to help such activists and representatives
of local bodies working on the ground.

Now, food security is not only a service that should be rendered only when
required rather it is a right that is recognized under the law.Especially after
the parliament has enacted the Food Security Act, the right to food now
can be demanded and the state can be held accountable towards children,
women and common men. This implies that the state and the systems
under it, all are bound to play a pro-active role to grant rights and
entitlements to the Indian citizens as provided under the law.

Food security is a legal right and state is bound to ensure that it should be
made available to people. Therefore it is essential to ascertain that there
is a system that is in place to implement the law and wherever required
the structure should be strengthened. As defined under the law, the roles
and responsibilities should be clearly demarcated and defined at various
levels. Accountability must be built in at all levels from making schemes
workable to resource distribution to allocation to implementation to
grievance redressal.
Through this Booklet we will attempt
to understand following points:
1. We will try to analyse the issue of food security in the contemporary
India from various perspectives
2. We will also attempt to understand different socio-political aspects
relating to the issue of food security
3. We will go by theprinciple that food security is a basic right granted
to the all people under the law and such right will not be compromised
in any manner. It is then only that through this law situation of hunger,
starvation and malnutrition could be addressed. The process of social
audit and monitoring therefore becomes essential to ensure that the
provisions of the law could be implemented on ground.
4. Therefore it is relevant that people should raise questions relating to
implementation of schemes under the law and the state should be
bound to answer all relevant questions and address issues relating to the
rights and entitlements granted under the Act
5. We should also get
correct and true
information relating
to implementation of
the Act
6. It is essential that all
people should
participate fully to
ensure that the law is
properly implement-
ed and therefore
every individ-
ual should play
an active role
in social audit. We
should not wait for
the situation when
a problem arisesin
order to complain or
raise voice.
To Address the Ground Realities what
does this Booklet contains?

The aim of writing this manual is to comprehensively understand the National

Food Security Act and to ensure that social initiative to implement this law
is implemented strongly in its true spirit. We have tried to cover the following

1. Food Insecurity, starvation and its background in contemporary India

2. Food Security APerspective
3. The Concept
4. Food Security and Institutional responsibilities
5. From Struggle for Justice to the National Food Security Act 2013
Background of the National Food Security Act
Basis for the National Food Security Act
The National Food Security Act 2013 Main provisions
Rights given under the National Food Security Act
Schemes formulated under the National Food Security Act
6. The Process of Social Audit and Major Points in Investigation
7. The Process of Social Audit
8. Background for Community mobilization in the implementation of
the National Food Security Act
1. Food Insecurity, Starvation and
its background in Contemporary India

For the period between 2007 to 2014, the issue of inflation and food security
became a major challenge in India. It is not that we do not have enough
resources available here. For these 8 years, the farmers in the country have toiled
hard to produce on an average 24 million tons of wheat. Out of this around
one fourth was procured by the government and was kept in safe custody in
the storage houses. For this time frame, every year, six tonnes of the wheat was
kept in the government storehouse/godowns. In fact for the period between
2012 to 2014, 8 crores tonnes, wheat was procured and kept in the warehouses/
godowns, yet shortage of food was declared by the government. These
contradictions continued to exist. But why this has happened? Is it happening
now also? The answer is No. It happened because this is a result of continu-
ation of colonial legacy and oppressive systems where the ruling elite instead
of working for the welfare of common citizens focus their attention more on
profit making and therefore investresources in strengthening the free market
economy. In order to assert their power they create artificial shortage of essen-
tial commodities.

When we talk about hunger and food security in the contemporary India, it
is difficult to overlook the impact of colonial legacy and its aftermath. The
historical analysis during the period indicates that the situation of hunger
and starvationwas created. It was manmade. These situations do not happen
because of drought, flood, famine, illness, scarcity or crisis, but hunger,
starvation, food shortage, all are the product of profit and power relationship
between the state and the market.

Professor M.S. Swaminanthan in his article published in the Hindu (titled

From Bengal Famine to Right to Food) wrote that the mega tragedy of Bengal
famine was caused due to factors as Japanese occupation of Burma, the
damage to kharif rice crop due to tidal waves, a disease epidemic, panic
purchase and hoarding by rich, failure of governance, particularly in
relation to the equitable distribution of the available food grains, disruption of
communication due to World War II, and the indifference of the then U.K.
government to the plight of the starving people of undivided Bengal. When
we talk of Bengal, we are not limiting ourselves to current territorial divisions;
rather in the undivided Bengal in the year 1942 there was huge production and
the then British government was exporting the food in 1943. However, it is later
that food insecurity arises in West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar and Bangladesh.
Statistics reveal that during the regime of Britishers expanding to 200
years in the colonial India, we witnessed more number of famines as
compared to the rest of period. Why? Can we see these famines as mere natural
phenomenon or these were created and manmade? Studies reveal that these were
formulated by the ruling elite. In the earlier half of the 19th century,
Tamil Nadu, Bihar and Bengal witnessed regular continuous severe famines.
Data suggests that 3 to 4 crores people died and it is in this context that the
Famine Code was formulated by the colonial governmentindicating the relief
measures that should be put in place when crops fail.

These are mere facts. The pertinent question relates to ascertaining the truth
behind these facts. We frequently refer too Bengal famine that took place in
the year 1943 yet this was not the only one that killed lakhs of people. The
colonial history has witnessed many of such incidences. Mike Davis in his book
(Late Victorian Holocaust) wrote during the 120 years of British regime India
witnessed 31 great famines where 2.90 crores people died. This is in comparison
to the rest 2000 years of history of India which has seen only 17 famines.

With these two examples it is much easier to comprehend that in the

British ruled India famine were not caused because of the nature rather these
were created intentionally and thoughtfully by those in power through their
wrongful decisions and anti-people policies. Rakesh Krishnan Sinha in his essay
stated that in the year 1876 when the South of Pathar was affected by drought,
then also appropriate quantity of rice and wheat was available and stored in
India. What was required was to distribute and make available the stored crop
in the larger public benefit to deal with the crisis created by food shortage. This
was not impossible; yet the then Viceroy Robert Wulber Lytton decided that
whatever the ground situation was, he would continue to export the food from
India to England.

In the year 1877 and 1878 when famine occurred in the form of drought, then
also the big players and middlemen in the food supply business continued to
export food grains. Common people including workers and farmers started
dying due to starvation yet the government officials were instructed to do
everything that could `make the relief work dysfunctional. What was promoted
was to obtain profit out of the unjust situation by sucking every drop of blood of
poor peasant Indians.The starved farmers and workers were made to do heavy
and hard work and in the peasant centers they were given less and less of food.
Not only in India, this scenario had been observed in the Central Germany too
where during the second world war in the Nazi camp in the village Buchenwald,
Jewish prisoners were made to do strenuous work and yet were served a very
limited quantity of food.
In colonial India, during this famine, millions of people died yet, the relief work
was never initiated by the then British government. Instead, Viceroy Robert
Bulwer Lytton never tried to postpone the Imperial ceremony where many
were fed luxurious food items when Queen Victoria was declared as a Ruler of
India. This royal festival continued for a week where 68 thousand guests were
invited to listen to those ironic remarks made by Queen where she stated that
she promised to bring happiness, prosperity and welfare in the country.

The Lancet, which is a well established research journal in the field of

health and nutrition, in 1901 estimated that in famines in western India
during the decade of 1890 were the major causes of deaths and 1.90 crores of
people died due to this reason. The reason for such a huge number of deaths
was that the then British government ruling India never bothered to initiate any
relief measures for people of the country. Mike Davis reported that during the
period 1872 to 1921 the life expectancy of common people in India reduced by
20 percent and all this happened because the ruling elite was indifferent to the
concerns of masses.

Second example relates to famine in Bengal. In the year 1943-44 the

famine in Bengal took life of 40 lakh children, men and women. This was the
period when the Second World War was at its peak and during this time
Germans were targeting Jews, Slaves and Romans in Europe. Hitler and his Nazi
troops took 12 years to openly massacre 60 lakhs Jews, however, in a tragic
clever ploy deployed by the colonial rulers, the British government under the
direction, leadership and guidance of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill
killed 40 lakhs people in a year by manufacturing famine in one part of
India. According to Dr. G Polya a leading Bio-chemist from Australia, the
famine of Bengal was manmade and was artificially created and manmade and
occurred because of the wrong policies adopted by the then British Prime
Minister, Mr Churchill.

In the year 1942,

there was lush and
bountiful crop
production in
Bengal, and the Brit-
ish government ex-
ported huge amount
of grains to Britain
because of which
crisis was created
in the large part
of India compris-
ing of present West
Bengal, Odisha, Bihar and Bangladesh. Writer Madhushree Mukher-
jee in her book `Churchills Secret War explicated that the par-
ents who somehow survived famine could not see children howling
because of hunger and therefore threw them in the rivers and ponds. Many people
committed suicide by throwing themselves before the speeding trains
because they couldnt bear the pain of hunger and starvation. People were
found begging for water left after boiling rice. Children were trying to
survive by consuming tree leaves, shrubs, grass and yam. Many of the
common people became so weak that they could not gather strength and
energy to cremate their dead relatives and family members. Because of
increasing number of accumulated dead bodies the dogs and jackals enjoyed the
feast. Madhushree Mukherjee wrote that those men who migrated to Calcutta
for work and those women who took to prostitution and sell their bodies only
could survive. The situation became worse for women. `Mothers were forced to
kill their offsprings, the young girls in the village were forced to become sluts
and fathers were forced to sell their daughters.

Winston Churchill could have stopped this tragedy if he could have sent a few
ships full of food to India; yet he refused to do so. Subhash Chandra Bose, who
was fighting war for friendly countries, proposed to send rice from Burma,
however, the British government didnt allowed such proposal. In fact, Churchill
was sending food grains for British Army and Greek citizens. According to him,
sending food to protected and strong Greece was a great priority as compared
to feeding millions of Indians in Bengal who were dying due to hunger and
The then state secretary Leo Amery and Viceroy Archibald Wavell made an
urgent request to send food to India, however, Churchill replied through a
telegram saying that why Gandhi has not yet died?

Wavell wrote to London that `the Bengal famine was one of the greatest
tragedies that had fallen upon any country under British domain. He continued
that when Holland requires food, ships are made available to send the same,
however, when we requested ships to deliver the food to India we were given
negative response. This is when Churchill responded that Britain was not in
position to make the ships available. The study conducted by Mukherjee found
that ships started from Australia went to center while passing through the
coastal boundaries of India.

Churchill hated Indians. He revealed this to Leo Amery. He pointed out

that Indians themselves were responsible for famine and stated that `Indian
produce babies like rabbits.

Mukherjee in one of her essay wrote that Churchill believed that wheat is an
expensive commodity and therefore held that it should not be wasted on non
Whites. He was holding the wheat produce so that it could be consumed by the
Europeans once the war end rather than distributing wheat among those who
were fighting to gain independence from British rule.

The time has changed but the history is repeating itself in modern India.
Britian became prosperous by looting the resources from India while
maintaining starvation in different form, though it believes that it has given
a new identity to India. In October 1943, when the impact of famine was at
peak in Bengal, in a grand luxurious programme organized to facilitate the
appointment of Archibald Wavell, Churchill commented that, when we look
back we found that on this portion of Earth no battle has been fought for past
three generations. Famines and epidemics have taken place and goneThis
part of Indian history will be recognized as a golden erathis is a period when
British Rule has given India a system that is peaceful and the one that is just for
poor where everyone is safe and protected.

Today, we are a free country; this is a most positive situation for this
generation. Now we knew what Britishers have done. We knew that it is not
because of shortage of food rather the famines were created by the British
Rulers which caused death and killing of 4 crores people.

And even today, when godowns/storehouses are filled with food, then also
people are denied access to food. Even today, the government believes that the
task of providing subsidies or expenses involved in providing food security to
people is a burden on state.
2. Food Security A Perspective

Food Security does not imply only Food grain security!

This include

1. Produce/purchase/storage (What is a system involved in us

age and control of resources?)
2. Access (Inequality/ Unequal distribution/Social boycott)
3. Capacity of usage
4. Cultural practices
5. Clean Drinking Water, Cleanliness and Sanitation,
Availability and proper utilization of primary health services

Food security exists, when all people, at all times, have physical and
economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food to meet their
dietary needs and food preference for an active and healthy life.
World Food Summit, Rome, 1996
Importance of Food Security
Freedom from hunger and malnutrition
For assuring a life with Dignity and Respect
For playing a constructive role as per ones maximum potential
To end inequality, inequity and injustice
To achieve and ensure other rights including that of education, employment, safe
For a positive development and to achieve the goal of self sufficiency
To empower communities
Elements of Food Security
Food Utilization Food Access Food Availability
Nutritional Values Affordability Production
Social Value Allocation Distribution
Food Safety Preference Exchange

Meaning of Food Security

Food and Agricultural organization has clarified that food security entails that every
individual at all times and in every situation must have physical, social and economic
access to adequate, safe, nutritious food as per his or her priorities to lead an active and a
healthy life. (FAO 2002, The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2002)
Today more focus is laid on consumption, demand and access of marginalized population
to food. Professor Amratya Sen has clearly laid down that by food security he implies that
individuals and families right to food should be prioritized. In his conceptualization of
food security he lays more emphasis on individual and household rights to food. (Sen A.
1981, Poverty and Famines. Oxford: Clarendon Press)
The Constitution of India in its Article 21 laid down that right to life with dignity is a
fundamental right. According to this provision no person can be denied or deprived of
his or her right to life and liberty except according to procedure established by law. (Fun
damental Rights, Constitution of India)
The significant question is that whether adequate food which is nutritious and qualitative
is available even if it is not included within the provision of fundamental rights.
Article 45 of the Indian Constitution states that, The State shall endeavour to provide
early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years.
(Directive principles of State Policy, Constitution of India)
Article 47 provides that is the Duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition and the
standard of living and to improve public health. It states that the State shall regard the
raising of the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improve
ment of public health as among its primary duties and, in particular, the State shall en
deavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of
intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health (Directive principles of
State Policy, Constitution of India)
Food Security: Different Dimensions
Source: Mark Gibson 2012 Food Security- A Commentary
The Indian Legal System

The court is concerned about the fact that poor, weak and deprived
sections of society should not suffer due to hunger and starvation. It
is a primary duty of the state both at center and the state level to
eradicate hunger and starvation. How this should be done is a policy
matter that the state needs to resolve. The court wants to ensure that
the food lying in government godowns should not go waste neither
should it be thrown away in the sea nor it should become the food for
rodents. Without proper implementation, policies have no meaning.
Important is that the food should reach people who are victimized and
are suffering because of hunger and starvation

For details see PUCL v. Union of India and others, Supreme Court of
India Writ petition 196/2001
Prevalent Conditions and Contradictions
Calorie intake and consumption standards for determining poverty in
India and poverty standards as estimated by the expenditure
by the government (Percentage of total population)

consum Year Poverty measured on Poverty measured

the basis of calorie on the basis of
consumption expenditure
1983 64-8 % 56 %
1987 63-9 % 51 %
1999 70-1 % 36%
2004 75-8 % 28%
2010 80 % 37-2 %
2011 29-7 %
During the decade of 1970 on the recommendations made by the
expert group it was held that people in the rural areas who per day
consume less than 2400 calories and people in urban areas who per day
consume less than 2100 calories will be considered as those living below
poverty line

Average Expenditure incurred on different food products in India

Food items Monthly per person Total Monthly

expenditure (In Rupees) expenditure
Rural urban Rural urban
Cereal products 154 175 10-8 6-7
Pulses 42 54 2-9 2-0
Milk and milk 115 184 8-0 7-0
Oil and Fat 53 70 3-7 2-7
Egg, meat and Fish 68 96 4-8 3-7
Vegetables 95 122 6-6 4-6
Fruits 41 90 2-8 3-4
Sugar and Salt 76 94 5-3 3-6
Total spending on 756 1121 52-9 42-6
Per person 1430 2630 100 100
monthly total
Prevalence of Less Food in India
National Family Health Survey-Four

National Family Health Survey - Four Survey in India on number

of persons having access to
less food (2015-16)
Growth Low Weight Deficiency of Year Number
Hampered Babies Iron
Bihar 48.3% 43.9% 78.0% 1990-92 21.01 crores
Maharashtra 34.3% 36.0% 63.4% 2000-02 18.55 crores
West Bengal 32.5% 31.5% 61.0% 2005-07 23.34 crores
Madhya 42.0% 40.6% 68.9% 2010-12 18.99 crores
2014-16 19.46 crores

The Significant Decision of Apex Court:

No Person should remain Hungry
The Supreme Court held that the government is responsible for starvation deaths
Vulnerable and people from marginalized communities must receive free and low
cost food grains and this is the duty of the state. Pension is their basic right.
At the village level a strong mechanism must be created to ensure that no one
should be deprived of food and that are no starvation deaths take place
Every child must have access to anaganwadi and must receive facilities for his or
her nutrition and development. This is their right.
Low cost food must be made available to needy through schemes like Antodaya
Every able bodied person must be given work and must receive adequate
remuneration for the same and this should be controlled and monitored by the
local panchayat.

(In the matter of the Peoples Union for Civil Liberties v Union of India (Writ Petition Number
196/2002) the Supreme Court of India has given many important orders and decisions)
Current Food Policy and the Role of State:
A Critical Analysis
In our society the food security is linked to social structure and system.
Food, production, storage, distribution and systems to deal with the adverse
situations are created by the society. We know that resource distribution
system is not based on the principles of equity and justice and
impact has been felt of the plundering of resources done in beginning of
twentieth century which are clearly visible today. With the rise of the
effect of colonialism, world wars, and centralized capitalist free
market food security system began to collapse while the relationship
or nexus between the society and natural resources play a great role
in intensification of food security system. In this chapter we will look at
those aspects where we will see that the role of society weakens and state
acquires power and since when the state defined system was taken over by
the market forces. To clearly understand these changes we need to reflect on
the experiences in last 75 years. We are dividing this long period into five
stages to comprehensively reflect on the situation

1. The first stage before Constitution was made (1939 to 1950) Role of state
in resolving the crisis during disasters
2. Stage after the Constitution was made till the phase when the policy of
liberalization was introduced (1950-91) Peoples welfare state and its
role in protectingfundamental rights

3. Public Distribution System: A limited target (Beginning of 90s) (End of

welfare regime and introduction of poverty line/ the system was made to
be limited, corrupt and weaken) In the year 1997 one more distinction
was made the society was further divided into people living below
poverty line and those living above the poverty line

4. The active role played by the Supreme Court of India The debate was
initiated on the policies and rights and since 2001 in the period of
economic growth organized initiatives were taken to deal with the
situation of agriculture crisis and starvation

5. The enactment of Food Security Act (2005-2014) the period when the
state was rolling back social security measures and was in the process of
giving up its role as a welfare state, in the same period the enactment of
this law was a significant step
First Stage (From the year 1939 to 1950)

We need to understand this phase in the context of what is said in the

beginning of this document under the title Food Insecurity, starvation and its
background in contemporary India
The impact of second world war
In the year 1939, the British government in the wake of price rise on food items
in Bombay initiated a food distribution scheme to make food available to all.
To deal with the situation of drought and famine a historical step was taken
to ration the food in order to control the price and arrangements were made
to administer the food policy
During this period the country witnessed the horror of Bengal famine when
lakhs of people died not due to shortage of food but because of wrong and
corrupt policies being adopted by the then government
Due to the impact of second world war at the global level there was shortage
of food
During the period between 1940-42 meetings were held to control the price
After the sixth meeting held in September 1942 in India, fundamental
principles of food distribution system were finalized. This includes major points
relating to purchase, contract with agents, distribution, monitoring and storage.
The main aim was to control and stabilize the price of food
Due to drought, famine and hoarding situation was becoming worse. Then the
food policy committee in 1943 suggested that in the urban areas where
population exceeds one lakh the controlled ration distribution system should
be implemented.
Due the partition, the situation was tense and India received 82% population,
75% food produce and 69% agriculture area
Second Phase (From 1950)
In December 1947, under the influence of Mahatma Gandhi food
was kept outside of control however in September 1948 again
controlled ration distribution policy was formalized. In the period
between 1952-54 control was lifted and again it was forced in the
year 1957

In the year 1950 the Constitution of India came into force.

Important provisions are given in Chapter III which relates to the
Fundamental Rights as well as in Chapter IV regarding the
Directive principles of the State Policy. This implies that in the free
India, the state is duty bound to upkeep the welfare of its citizens.
However, to implement these provisions a comprehensive policy
and a systematic structure could not be formulated.

In the year 1957 Food Grain Enquiry committee (Ashok Mehta

Committee) recommended for flexible, indirect control,
establishing more ration shops, continuation of regional policy in
relation to shortage or excess of availability of food and advocated
for the control of prices in terms of regional scheme.

For the period between 1958 to 66 due to shortage in food supplies, food
was imported from America under PL 480 policy.America exploited the
opportunity of the then prevailing crisis in India and imposed its own
conditions and terms relating to monetary policies, foreign trade and
production, and also for determining and regulation of prices of
chemicals and fertilizers. In the year 1966, India was forced to import
14% of its food required to its total requirement.

It is during this period that Green Revolution began in India. The sole
aim was to increase production of food in whatever possible manner. It is
for this reason that all resources were utilized including machinery and
increased use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in several areas.
After India gained independence, in spite of the fact that adverse situation
persists, self sufficiency was obtained in food production and then began
discussion and debate on the different aspects of food security policy.The
major aspects of this initiative were:
Protecting farmers from anomalies of market and help them to sell food
at the right price so that production could be encouraged
Keeping buffer stock so that challenges arising due to natural calamities,
disasters, war etc could be met
Keeping market price in control
Public distribution of essential commodities

In the year 1965, Food Corporation of India was established with the
object to purchase, distribution, storage, logistics and marketing of
food in an open market.

In the sixth five year plan (1980-85) it was held that public distribution
system (PDS) should be strengthened and developed to make it a per-
manent structure of the strategy to further the object of distribution and
supply of food and essential commodities and for control of prices.

In 1982, when 20 points programme was formulated, the 17th point re-
lates to supply of food under school books and copies were made avail-
able with the ration/fair price shops in order to expand the public distri-
bution system.

Within two years the number of fair price shops increased to 3.02 lakhs
from 2.30 lakhs.

The government took onus of supplying wheat, sugar, kerosene, edible oil
and soft coal.

In 1985PEO conducted an evaluation and it was found that problems exist

not due to coverage or administration but becauseof irregular supply, lack of
quality and issues in delivery. The shopkeepers who run fair price shops
believed that it was a business which incurs losses.

In the year 1984 food and supply ministry was established under which
two separate divisions were made. Citizens supply division took the
responsibility of public distribution system.
Third phase (After the year 1991)

While implementing the new economic policies it was decided that the state
will limit its welfare responsibilities and will cut down and reduce subsidies.
It was decided that the food will be freed from the state control and will be
regulated by market forces.
In the year 1991-92, it was decided that 2.17 crore tonnes wheat will be
distributed through PDS, however only 1.90 crore tonnes was actually given
away through this process
In the year 1994-95, 2.41 crores was earmarked out of which only 1.31 crores
tonnes was actually distributed.
The heaps of food grains began increasing
During the same time, the price of food increased globally and instead of
distributing the wheat among people in India it was exported to other
In 1752 development blocks revamping of PDS was initiated
36% of families were considered as poor in the country and therefore a large
section was deprived and left unprotected. The demand was high and
resources were constrained because of which corruption in food increased to
a dangerous level
The National Human Rights Commission believed that, the right to food is
an indivisible part of right to life with dignity under Article 21 of the
Constitution. This has been judicially interpreted to mean a life with human
dignity and not mere survival or animal existence. In the light of this, the State is
obliged to provide for all those minimum requirements which must be satisfied
in order to enable a person to live with human dignity, such as education, health
care, just and humane conditions of work, protection against exploitation etc.
In the view of the Commission, the Right to Food is inherent to a life with
dignity, and Article 21 should be read with Articles 39(a) and 47 to understand the
nature of the obligations of the State in order to ensure the effective realisation
of this right. Article 39(a) of the Constitution, enunciated as one of the Directive
Principles, fundamental in the governance of the country, requires the State
to direct its policy towards securing that the citizens, men and women equally,
have the right to an adequate means to livelihood. Article 47 spells out
the duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living of
its people as a primary responsibility. The citizens right to be free from hunger
enshrined in Article 21 is to be ensured by the fulfilment of the
obligations of the State set out in Articles 39(a) and 47. The reading of Article 21
together with Articles 39(a) and 47, places the issue of food security in the correct
perspective, thus making the Right to Food a guaranteed Fundamental Right which
is enforceable by virtue of the constitutional remedy provided under Article
32 of the Constitution. It follows, therefore, that there is a fundamental right to
be free from hunger. Starvation constitutes a gross denial and violation of this
right. (National Human Rights Commission; 37-3-97-LD)

With the limitations put on the PDS a new practice began in India; the
fundamental rights were also denied in the process. These basic rights are
guaranteed to every citizen of India irrespective of the fact whether they belong to
BPL (Below Poverty Line) or APL (Above Poverty Line) category.
The impact of change in policies was felt specifically on June 1, 1997 when
extensive public distribution system was restricted to targeted public
distribution system
Under this policy, now cheap ration or food grains (subsidized at the rate half
of its actual economic cost) is not made available to entire population rather
it was made available to only those who fall under the BPL category while
those above poverty line were made to pay the entire cost of food items.
It is from here that the doubtful situation was created relating to
definition of poverty, standards and measures of poverty, total number of
families living in poverty, identity of those living in poverty and their listing.
As per the Government of India, only 36% people falls under the deserving
category and could be provided food grains at low cost, rest 64% were denied
the benefits under the PDS.
During the period 1998-2001, the price of commodities available at the
ration shops was increased (the price of wheat was enhanced to 66% and the
price of rice was increased by 62%)
The intention was to reduce the cost by cutting down the subsidies and on
the other hand to introduce the open market system and attract consumers
toward it. Studies were hinting that aim was to increase the market for the
common food items as well as marketization of processed food while at the
same time the object was to end the food security programmes initiated by
the state.
Fourth Phase Proactive Role played
by the Supreme Court (Since 2001)

In our opinion it is essential that food should be made available to elderly,

differently abled, poor, women and children victimized by hunger, pregnant and
lactating mothers and specifically those who are abandoned by their families.
In the case of famine
the food becomes
scarce. However here
the situation is that
the access to food
is denied to many
amidst abundance.
Plentiful food is avail-
able, yet the poor and
needy are denied and
deprived of the same.
It is because of this
reason that malnutri-
tion, starvation and
other similar situa-
tion arise. (Supreme
Court on 23.07.2001)

The Indian gov-

ernment since 1991
has attempted to
close down the PDS
system gradually. It is
because of this reason
that starvation con-
tinued to increase on
one hand and on the
other the godowns/storehouses were filled blatantly with unused food. At one
point of time there was 6.2 crore tonnes food was available in those godowns/
warehouses where as millions of people were dying outside because of hunger
and unavailability of adequate and plentiful food.
Important directions
The recognition
of those needy or
beneficiary should
be done by January
The benefit of
Antodaya scheme
should be made
available without
categorization into
BPL category
The license of
those shop owners
should be cancelled
who do not open their shops all days during a month, or keep ration card with
themselves, or fill wrong information in the ration card, or sell the ration supply
in the black market, or ask someone else to manage the fair price shop, or do not
provide food grainsas per the proper fixed prices.
A board providing appropriate information must be placed on every fair price
The beneficiaries should be provided ration/food grains on payment in install-
Each BPL household should be provided with 35 kgs of food grains
Social audit must be conducted for all food/employment programmes and ev-
ery matter of corruption should be reported to officers by the gram sabhas
Grievance should be raised before the complaint chief officer/collector who
will further note the complaints in a special register. They will also be empow-
ered and will be responsible implement the orders given by the court
In case, now the negligence is observed while implementing the orders of
court then the Chief secretaries of the state and the administrative officers of the
Union will be held responsible
Below categories will be included in the Antodaya Anna yojana:
Elderly, helpless, differently abled, needy men and women, pregnant and
lactating mothers
Widows and single destitute women who are helpless
Destitute persons above 60 years of age who do not have any livelihood
Those families consisting of differently abled person
Those families where due to old age, physical or mental illness, social
customs, or due to caring of disabled individuals or for any other reasons
people could not work & Tribal communities
Observations made by Justice Wadhwa
There are many loopholes in PDS. The wheat is not picked up on time or at
times, it is picked up in one go
The fair price shops are managed by people associated with political parties.
The ruling political party influence the PDS and control the ration distribution
The monitoring mechanism has been completely collapsed
The quality of wheat made available is bad
People are not informed about different aspects
The shops open only for 4 to 5 days in a week
No mechanism of transparency was formulated
Fake ration cards have been used
(Source: Bhookh.com)

Hunger Facts
1. Hunger remains the No.1 cause of death in the world. Aids, Cancer
etc. follow.
2. There are 820 million chronically hungry people in the world.
3. 1/3rd of the worlds hungry live in India.
4. 836 million Indians survive on less than Rs. 20 (less than half-a-
dollar) a day.
5. Over 20 crore Indians will sleep hungry tonight.
6. 10 million people die every year of chronic hunger and hunger-
related diseases. Only eight percent are the victims of hunger caused
by high-profile earthquakes, floods, droughts and wars.
7. India has 212 million undernourished people only marginally
below the 215 million estimated for 199092.
8. 99% of the 1000 Adivasi households from 40 villages in the two
states, who comprised the total sample, experienced chronic
hunger (unable to get two square meals, or at least one square meal
and one poor/partial meal, on even one day in the week prior to
the survey). Almost as many (24.1 per cent) had lived in conditions
of semi-starvation during the previous month.
9. Over 7000 Indians die of hunger every day.
10. Over 25 lakh Indians die of hunger every year.
11. Despite substantial improvement in health since independence
and a growth rate of 8 percent in recent years, under-nutrition
remains a silent emergency in India, with almost 50 percent of
Indian children underweight and more than 70 percent of the
women and children with serious nutritional deficiencies as
13. During 2006 2007, malnutrition contributed to seven million
Indian children dying, nearly two million before the age of one.
14. 30% of newborn are of low birth weight, 56% of married women
are anaemic and 79% of children age 6-35 months are anaemic.

Contribution of PDS in the

Food Security mechanism

When implementation mechanism is made accountable National

Sample Survey organization NSSO conducted a survey on the PDS and
found that in comparison to the year 2004-05 the system improved in the
year 2009-10

In the year 2009-10 in a household in a rural area out of the total

consumption of rice (6 kg) 23.5% (1.41 kg) comes from the fair price shop.
In the urban areas, 0.81 kgs (18% of the total consumption 4.52 kg) comes
from the fair price shop. In the year 2004-05 this ratio was 13% in rural
areas and 11% in urban areas.

In the matters relating to consumption of wheat, in the year 2004-05 in the

villages out of total consumption 7.3% came from fair price shops which
was increased in 2009-10 to 14.7%. In urban areas this ratio was increased
from 3.8% to 9%

In the fair price shops the percentage of those consuming wheat increased
from 11% to 27.6% in rural areas and number of those consuming rice in-
creased from 24.4% to 39.1%

In urban areas those consuming wheat increased from 5.8% to 17.6% and
for rice eaters the consumption increased from 13.1% to 20.5%
Why implementation machinery
be made accountable?
In the year 2009-10, 76% families purchased rice and 71.7% families pur-
chased wheat for their consumption. While in the year 2004-05 21.4% fami-
lies purchased rice and 26.1% families bought wheat for consumption

During the year 2009-10 when this study was conducted it was observed that
just 30 days before when these questions were asked 53.8% families consumed
tuar dal, 17.5% families used sabut chana, 40.5% families consumed moong
dal, 34.9% masoor, 35.4% urad and 76.4% families consumed milk.

Almost 92% people consumed eggs, chicken, and purchased all forms or veg-
etables. Less then 10% produce what they consumed

Role of PDS in domestic food security

Product Rural Urban
Ration Other Total Ration Other Total
From sources From sources
shop shop
Wheat 2-880 16-858 19.738 19.738 15.324 16.86
quantity (100%) (100%) (90.91%) (100%)

Wheat 13.90 207.59 221.50 9.85 231.88 241.73

Price in (4.83 Rs) (12.31 Rs) (11.22 Rs) (6.42 Rs) (15.13 Rs) (14.33 Rs)
Rice 6.549 21.365 27.914 3.367 15.325 18.69
quantity (23.46%) (76.54%) (100%) (18.01%) (81.99%) (100%)

pkoy dher 22.75 357.21 379.96 10.27 349.10 359.36

:i, esa (3.47 Rs) (16.71 Rs) (13.61 Rs) (3.05 Rs) (22.25 Rs) (19.22 Rs)

Source: NSSO Report 545; PDS and Family Consumption and other sources, Report released in January 2013
Fifth Phase Making of employment and Food
Security as a Right under the Law (2005 to 2014)

In the year 2001 after the proactive interventions made by the Supreme
Court it was specifically clarified that without the right to livelihood
and employment the right to food security and freedom from hunger
and starvation could not be achieved. It is then that the peoples
struggle for right to livelihood was initiated. And in the year 2005, the
National Rural Employment Guarantee Act was enacted.
Along with it demands were also raised by the peoples organizations
that when the court has granted the food security as a right then the
state should enact a law regarding the same so that a well organized
programme could be made
In 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the congress party in its manifesto
promised that it will ensure that families living below the poverty line
will be provided with the right to food security. However, this
provision of right was limited to very less number of people who were
at that point of time considered to be living below poverty line (At that
time only 29.7% families were considered to be poor)
It is then that the debate was initiated that why all should not be granted
this fundamental right because in our country the poverty line is quite
impractical, inhuman and disrespectful.
What Does the Law Contain?
In one way the food security law includes all the schemes that have been
initiated earlier. This law provides for nutrition and food security as a right as
per the life cycle :
Mid Day meals in schools All children attending public/government schools
or aided schools should be served hot cooked meal

Integrated Child Development Services (Aanganwadi) Nutritiousmeal to

children upto six years as well as to pregnant women and lactating mothers.
Though the Supreme Court has directed that early childhood or pre-school
education should include health, nutrition, immunization however the law
does not provide so.

Targeted Public Distribution System Through the fair price shops or the
ration shops eligible families (for Priority household and for those under
Antodaya category) will be provided with ration/food grains at low cost (5 kg
wheat per person in priority category and 35 kg wheat for entire household in
the Antodaya category per month)

Maternity Benefits Every pregnant woman and lactating mother is entitled

to a free meal at the local anganwadi (during pregnancy and six months after
child birth) as well as maternity benefits of Rs 6,000, in installments.

What is New in this Law?

Maternity benefits
Emphasis on nutritious quality cereals in meals
Changes in PDS (computerization, social audit, access of wheat at
the ration/fair price shops)
More population is covered than that categorised as Below poverty line
For purposes of issuing ration cards, the eldest woman in the household
(not less than 18 years of age) shall be considered head of the household
Fair price shop management to be given to women or their collectives with
preference to public institutions or bodies in licensing of fair price shops
Grievance Redressal Mechanism (Food Commission and District
Grievance Redressal Officer)
Provision for food security allowance to entitled beneficiaries in case
of non-supply of entitled foodgrains or meals.
Provision for penalty on public servant or authority, to be imposed by
the State Food Commission, in case of failure to comply with the relief
recommended by the District Grievance Redressal Officer.
Provisions have been made for disclosure of records relating to PDS, social
audits and setting up of Vigilance Committees in order to ensure
transparency and accountability
Debate on the National Food Security Act

The demand was that Public Distribution System should be extended to

bring all under the provision of the National Food Security Act. Poverty
line is a danger (67% population has been included)
No commitment for decentralization in production, purchase and storage
The demand was that if malnutrition has to be eradicated in true sense
than along with cereal products, pulses and edible oil needs to included so
as to fulfill the deficiency relating to protein and fat. However, only cereal
has been provided
The demand was also raised relating to decentralization of agricultural
produce, storage and purchase, however this was listed in the Schedule
rather than the main law
No restrictions have been placed on commercial export
Stringent provisions must have been made for act of corruption
The grievance redressal mechanism must have been independent and must
be free from any control
Cash transfers needs to be debated
No provisions have been made to prevent the use of agricultural land for
any other use
This much Wheat how much Wheat?
Generally, it is held that the government purchases a large amount of agricul-
tural produce thus leading to shortage and because of this reason the produce
is not available in the free market easily. The World Trade organization states
that in India wheat is being bought from the farmers and is sold at low cost
to people, this process affect the market negatively. However, this is not true.
The government makes purchase to distribute it through PDS or to keep buf-
fer stock or for any other purposes, however these are less than one fourth of
the produce.
This is evident from the data produced below
Year Total Food To t a l Yearly PDS Per person
Production Purchase produce (million per day
(million per person tonnes) (Kgs)
tonnes) (Kgs)

108-4 8-9 7-8 197-75 0-542
1980&81 129-6
11-2 15-0 189-66 0-520
176-4 24-0 16-0 208-44 0-571

196-8 35-6 13-0 191-62 0-525
2011&12 257-4
47-9 212-7 0-583
2012&13 250-1 52-8 47-16 206-59 0-566
Source: Economic Survey of India (2012-13) and Websites of Food and Civil Supplies
and PDS Ministry
Food Supplies Currently, overall 5.5 crore tonnes food produce is used, under the ex-
tended programme 6.2 crore tonnes of food supply will be required

Economic Resources
In India on PDS extra 27500 crores rupees will be required. (Now overall
1.05 lakhs crore rupees are being utilized)
Maternitybenefit programme will require 16000 crores rupees
For expanding and reforming other programmes an investment of 10000
crore rupees will be required

The critiques held that the government has no resources and funds to spend
on this programme; however in actual practice if we see, we will realize that
the government has resources and that is the reason that it is subsidizing
the corporate sector and is also foregoing revenue of 6 lakhs crores on other
purposes. A lot of money is being spend on various projects however when it
comes to people who are real human resources the government often makes
excuses without realizing the fact that people are the assets in terms of
development of the country
3. The Concept
Meaning of Food Security,
Right to Food and Nutritional Security
Food Security Food security implies that all citizens are entitled to
access to quantity, quality and variety of food which is culturally and
socially relevant at affordable prices to people to live a life with
dignity to provide for food and nutritional security in human life
cycle approach. The unit of food security could be the country, a state
or a village. Increased crop production implies plentiful availability yet
this does not guarantee that each household will have access to food;
till the time a person has access to resources to purchase food (like
livelihood or social security or protection under social welfare
measures). It is essential that along with the growth in agricultural
production there should be equitable and proper distribution system
being formulated

Right to Food
Right to food is a basic right of any individual. Cereal component
does not complete the food requirement of a body, what is required is
variety of products including pulses, vegetables, roots, eggs, milk,
edible oil, fruits, sugar or jaggery, beans besides cereals on daily basis. It is
important to fulfill all requirements relating to carbohydrates, protein,
fat, minerals, vitamins and other micro nutrients to achieve goals of
health. If a person does not get the variety of food his hunger may be
satiated yet his or her nutritional requirements will not be fulfilled.

Right to safe and clean drinking water, cleanliness and sanitation and
dignity are also part of right to food. It is the responsibility of the state
to ensure the right to food for all citizens because state is duty bound to
protect the rights by making appropriate policies and is empowered to
ensure that these policies are implemented. It is for this reason that the
government purchase food from farmers at the minimum support
value and make it available to common citizens at low cost through
public distribution system or through fair price shop. Generally, it is
not the poverty that restricts the right to food other factors like gender
discrimination, social status, hierarchy also violate citizens rights to
Women and Childrens Right to Food
Equality and dignity are basic conditions to lead a fulfilling meaningful human
life. Nutritional security measures should not be constricted to merely inside
the four walls of the anganwadi centers rather efforts must be made to include
youth, adolescent girls and men in the programmes. For ensuring the rights of
the children and women coming to anganwadi we should focus on these five
points essentially:
1. Every pregnant woman should be given something to eat after short
intervals. It is better to provide cereals, pulses, fruits, coconut, peanuts, and
similar healthy options. This is essential component of the right to food
2. Immediately after birth, the newborn should be breast fed by the mother.
This is their right to food
3. A six month old child must be fed soft mashed pulses, khichdi and soft
mashed fruits besides breast milk. This is their right to food
4. A two years old child is entitled to full meal. This is his or her right to food.
5. When we say full or complete meal it implies that everyday a person should
get cereals, pulses, vegetables, locally available fruit, milk or milk product,
edible oil, jaggery or sugar in his or her food basket. If we as a country are
able to do this much we will be able to ensure nutritional security for citizens
of India.

Nutritional Security Nutritional Security implies a situation where adequate

quality food is available to every citizen in sufficient quantity and s/he is able
to consume the same that will contribute to his or her health. For an active and
healthy life it is essential that the food available should have variety and should
consist of mix of different items which should be able to provide different
nutritional elements and also provide nutritional security. This must be
accompanied by
clean environment,
better quality of health
facilities and
services and safe settings
(According to Food
and Agriculture
Organization of United
Nation Organization)

For the purpose of

making appropriate
policies and to
ensure that they are
implemented properly
at the international level food and nutritional security are contextualized as one
component. The purpose to put these two together is that food security and the
nutritional needsare interlinkedand cannot be seen separately.
Meaning of Food Security

Food security is a comprehensive concept according to which everyone has a

right to lead a dignified life with access to adequate nutritious food, clean and
safe drinking water, proper production, and to enhance purchasing power all
are included.

Every citizen in the country should have access all time to food and
nutritional security in human life cycle approach, by ensuring access to
adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people to live a life with
dignity. Every citizen must have access to variety of food which should fulfill
all nutritional requirements relating to carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins,
minerals and other micro nutrients. These elements are available in different
kind of cereals, pulses, oil, milk, eggs, vegetables, and fruits, therefore these
must not only be made available but also situations should be created to that
these items are easily available to all. In the similar context, the availability of
clean drinking water is also essential.

In other words, food security involves: that in a community everyone at every

time should have physical, economic, social and cultural access to appropriate
quantity of balanced diet. Food security can be understood in the context of
three aspects: availability of food, access to food and consumption of food.
Availability of Food

The availability of food implies that all citizens in the country

should have nutritious food with all of its important elements
like cereals, pulses, oil, vegetables, milk etc. and all these are
produced in sufficient quantity. Different factors like storage, export,
misuse etc all adversely affect the availability of food.

Whether the cereals are decaying in the storage houses or

vegetables and fruits are rotting or the food is being
imported or the food is spoiled as done by the rich sections of the
society, all these factors affect availability of food. The food can be
made available to all including those needy in the remotest part of
the country only if food distribution system is strengthened.
Access to Food
This implies that what is required is to ensure that all people should have
access to food and this could only be made possible that when all the aspects
discussed above are fully met.
a) Food to All Every individual before his or her birth, in the womb, and
after that till he or she dies should be provided with adequate nutritious food.
b) Food Should be Made Available Everywhere and at All the TimeIn all
situations, everywhere, and at all the time in every city, village, town, street,
footpath, all people should have access and availability to food in a respectful
c) Adequate Food Must be Made AvailableEach person to survive requires
at least 1500 calories on every day basis. For healthy living, the Indian Council
of Medical Research recommends that an adult person requires 1875 to 3800
calories therefore each person should be provided with the same.
d) Balanced DietBalanced Diet has three source for energy and calories
Protein One gram of protein provides 4 calories of energy. Therefore pro-
tein should constitute 25 to 30 percent of the total food. Protein is available
mainly in pulses, egg and meat
Carbohydrates One gram of carbohydrate provides 4 calories of energy.
Therefore carbohydrates should constitute 40 to 45 percent of total food.
Carbohydrate is available mainly from cereals.
Fat One gram of fat provides nine calories of energy. Fat should
constitute 30 to 35 percent of total food. The main source of fat are edible
oil, For the nutritious food besides above three sources of calories what is
required is including vitamins, minerals, fiber, iron, sodium, and potassium
in the diet. The deficiency of these items may cause different diseases. These
elements are available in milk, curd, vegetables and fruits.
e) Safe Food The food should be safe and hygienic. In case hygiene is not
maintained it may lead to various diseases and may lead to death. Safe food
also implies that there should not be any kind of adulteration in the food.
Presently, emphasis has been laid on production of Genetically Modified
(GM) food, however these type of food are not safe for human consumption.
Utilization of Food(In terms of Absorption)

Utilization of food implies that the food that is consumed should be easily
digested by the body. In case a person is not able to digest the food then the food
has no utility. That person could be affected by malnutrition. Hence, the health
of the person should be such that he or she should be able to digest the food.
Therefore, it is essential that everyone should have access to at least basic health
services, clean and safe drinking water, minimum cleanliness and hygiene.
4. Food Security and
Institutional Responsibilities
Food Security and Duties of State
In the current trend of human history at the national, international and
other levels, the role of state is generally visualized as that of a welfare state. In a
democratic system, it is the people who select representatives of the state
and therefore establish the state. The state is duty bound to take care of the
welfare of its citizens. The Constitution of India describes the roles and the
responsibilities of the state. The fundamental rights of citizens provided in
the Constitution constitute the basic premise of the society.

In this part of the booklet we will look at the constitutional responsibilities of

the state. It has been established that the state is duty bound and is committed
through the national and international provisions to guarantee food security
to its citizens

Duties of the State In our country, the duties of the state are defined and
determined by the provisions made in the Constitution.

From the Constitutional Perspectives

The right to
life with dig-
nity includes
the right to food
security. There-
fore as per the
provisions laid
down in the
every state is
duty bound to
ascertain the
right to food

Article 21 of the Indian Constitution provides for the Right to life with dig-
nity for every citizen. It includes right to food too.

Article 47 of the Constitution affirms that it is the duty of the State to raise
the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health.
From the Perspective of Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of India has held that the Article 21 of the Constitution is
broad enough to include the Right of food and right to food security and there-
fore food security must be considered as a fundamental right of the citizens.

In this context, a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed before the
Supreme Court in April 2001 which elaborately deals with the right
to food and is still pending there. For over 13 years, in this matter, the
Supreme Court through its different orders and decisions held that food
security is a basic responsibility of both the central as well as the state
governments. The court has clarified that it will not tolerate any negligence, delay or
corruption in the matter relating to the right to food security. Through
its decisions the Court has ordered or formulated an effective forum for
monitoring and supervision of the implementation of this right and has
also directed to create a grievance redressal mechanism with the provi-
sion for penalty in case the stakeholders default in denying the right to food
security to the citizens of the country.

The Supreme Court has also comprehensively established the provisions

for giving the right to food security a shape to include various aspects like
employment, pension, maternity benefits, household benefits, (in case
the earning member of the household dies) special provisions for poor
and marginalized sections of the society, fair price distribution system,
complete nutrition and shelter for homeless among other aspects. The right
to food as elaborated by the Supreme Court through its various orders
has been given here in the box in the next page which clarifies the above

Orders given by the Supreme Court in the Context of Right to Food

The state should provide for a system where the food should be provided
free of cost to a person who is unable to purchase food even if it is available
at low cost
In all government and aided schools children should be provided with
fresh cooked Mid Day Meal
National Old Age pension scheme should be implemented fully by January
2002 under which all elderly persons must be provided pension
continuously every month by the 7th day of the month
The benefits must be made available to poor, women and dalits specifically.
The contractors should be completely banned from providing services
under the complete nutritious food programme
Gram sabhas are empowered to conduct the social audit of all schemes
and programmes relating to food and livelihood and to report
corruption in such programmes. These are also held responsible to ensure
that all schemes and programmes are implemented and to monitor the
process through which beneficiaries are selected and the way they are
Officers are held responsible to address the grievances. In case the orders
of the Supreme Court are neglected, complaint could be made to chief
officer/collector. Finally, the principal secretary of the state should be held
The court has appointed officers to ensure that the schemes are being
implemented effectively and the that these should be continuously
To identify household below poverty line the state should issue effective
The apex court has directed that all the fair price shops must open all the
days in a month and instructions have been issued that these shops will put
a notice board outside on which details must be mentioned about the
availability of food items
It has been held that it is the primary duty of the state to prevent hunger and
starvation specifically among poor, homeless and weaker sections of society
The state should ensure that the food rotting in the godowns of the Food
Corporation of India should be stopped immediately and should not be
thrown into the sea of fed to the rats and rodents, It should be distributed
free among poor
All Central government schemes and programmes including Employment
Guarantee Scheme, Mid Day Meal Scheme, Integrated Child Development
Services Scheme, Maternity Benefit Scheme, Scheme for women Below
poverty Line, National Pension Scheme, Old Age pension Scheme for
elderly above 65 years of age, Annapoorna yojana, Antodaya Anna Yojana,
National Family benefit Scheme and PDS for BPL and APL households
should necessarily be implemented by the state governments
International provisions
The international provisions relating to food security are:

1. Universal Declaration of Human Rights Universal Declaration of Human

Rights is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10th
December 1948 at Paris. It provides for basic human rights of all persons and
has been adopted by all the member nations. In Article 25 of this Declaration, it
has been stated that every one has the right to a standard of living adequate for
the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing,
housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security
in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other
lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

2. International Declaration on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights

This is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General
Assembly on 16 December 1966, and in force from 3 January 1976. Article 11 of this
Declaration states that The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the
right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family,
including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous
improvement of living conditions. It further reiterates that The States
Parties to the present Covenant, recognizing the fundamental right of everyone
to be free from hunger and suggests that the governments should take the steps
either individually and through international co-operation to improve
methods of production, conservation and distribution of food by making full use of
technical and scientific knowledge, and should ensure an equitable distribution
of food supplies in relation to need.

3. United Nations Charter is the foundational treaty of the United Nations

which binds the UN to create conditions that promote stability and welfare and
urge nations to maintain international peace and security, while maintaining
social progress based on the principles of justice and respect while reaffirming
faith in human rights and to employ international machinery for promotion of
economic and social advancement of all people

Social and Economic Progress to raise standard of living, provide employment

and create situation for true development
Cooperation at international level for promoting culture, peace and education.
Achieving the goal of equality and non discrimination above the parameters
of race, gender, language or religion thus creating conditions for enjoyment of
human rights and basic freedom
Article 55 of the Charter states that with a view to the creation of
conditions of stability and well- being which are necessary for peaceful and friendly
relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and
self-determination of peoples, the United Nations shall promote: a) higher
standards of living, full employment, and conditions of economic and social
progress and development; b) solutions of international economic, social, health,
and related problems; and international cultural and educational co- operation;
and c) universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental
freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.

4. In November 2004 Food and Agriculture Organization in its 127th session

adopted that Food Security will only be ensured when every person in the world
will have access adequate, safe and nutritious food on daily basis in physical and
economic aspects. It highlighted four pillars for food security availability, sta-
bility in supplies, access and utilization (Part 1 para 15)

5. Other provisions

In this context, section 27.1 and 27.3 of the UNICEF Declaration on Child
Rights and Article 12 of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of
Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) put the onus on the state to provide
for food security to women and children.
India is signatory to Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International
Declaration on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, Declaration on Child
Rights as well as CEDAW
Now the Indian government is accountable at international level too

Now the Indian government is accountable at

international level too
Main Reasons behind Increasing Hunger and Malnutrition
Illegal control of industry over agriculture and agricultural crisis caused
due to apathy by the state
Development which is leading to destruction by widening inequalities
and causing social problems like increasing unemployment, economic
inequalities and corruption
In the name of development restricting opportunities for employment
and creating conditions where people are forced to work as a cheap
migrant labour
In the name of welfare and development the state is running schemes
and programmes that are ineffective, half baked and limited
Giving doles in the name of protecting the rights of poor
5. Legal Struggle for Right to Food
and the Food Security Act 2013
Background of making of Food Security Act 2013

The day of 26th August 2013 hold special place in the history of India. The
Food Security Bill was passed on this day by the Lok Sabha. And after few
days it was passed by the Rajya Sabha too.

After the law was enacted, it provided security to 67% of the population in
the country. To make this law effective, 318 amendments were suggested.
For nine and a half hours, the debate continued on a particular day indicates
the reluctance of those in power to grant security to those at the receiving
end. Economic compulsions and lack of resources were highlighted as major
reasons to reject the enactment.

This day is also important because it has been proved that for 22 years Indian
economy has been corporatized and that the loot of economic resources has
not benefitted the country in any way rather even on this day we have been
struggling to fight against hunger and starvation. The trickledown theory as
proposed by various economists as well as the state has failed to yield any
results at ground level.
As per the new law, the state governments have to work under the central
government as their major role is to implement the provisions of law at the
ground level. The right to take decisions at policy and institutional level
remains with the central government. 250 out of 359 members voted in
favour of the limiting the powers of the state governments. In Rajya Sabha the
opposition was more powerful yet it only registered a strategic resistance
against the provisions of the law. In case if it truly wish, it could have played an
important role in shaping the law.

More amendments are required in the law to make it more strong and
strategies may be developed at the ground level to implement this law
effectively and efficiently, yet it could not be dismissed. This law is an outcome
of long struggle carried out by the common people, therefore to dismiss it as a
perfunctory initiative taken to gain political advantage is not correct.

The parliament of India has played a significant role in the history of

India by recognizing food security as a right. Enactment of the National Food
Security Act 2013 implies that government can now be held accountable for
hunger, starvation, malnutrition and food insecurity. Though we should be
clear that food security or freedom from hunger has not been yet recognized as a
fundamental right in the Constitution of India, hence, apprehensions that this
law could be made redundant any time, remains.

Food security is a legal right and not a constitutional right. It implies that
politically it could be taken away at any point of time.

The discourse initiated on this law could be

categorized into three aspects

one category which believes that after a long time, people have been
granted the right to food and this could play a significant role in eradicating
hunger. Second category of people considers that this law is a crucial step yet the
provisions of this Act are weak to fight against root cause of hunger and food
insecurity. This implies that the law does not truly address the issues relating
to real concerns of farmers, plundering of natural resources, critical analysis
of factors leading to widening inequalities in the society among others. This
group of people also holds that the concept of the food security dealt in the law
has failed to address the issue of nutritional security.
The third category of people argues that government is wasting public money
of Rs 1.25 crores in concessions and subsidies for vested political interest. They
stated that with this step the process of economic reforms and growth under
which state is rolling back on all welfare measures will be adversely affected. They
are not willing to see that if the issues relating to prevalent malnutrition and food
insecurity are not addressed the so called economic growth will become
meaningless and futile.

It is irrelevant to state that the money spend on implementation of law will not
have any constructive benefit. To distribute the food, the state has to purchase
the same from the farmers. Therefore, the farmers will gain 80 thousand crores
per year which they will receive as a minimum support price. We need to
understand many such realities like this. At present, whatever minimum
support price a farmer receives, is less that the cost incurred and therefore they
could not earn respectable income.

Thousands of organizations and peoples groups since the year 2009 have
protested and campaigned for this law. More than 50 protests were held,
dialogue was held with Members of Parliaments several times and the
parliamentary committee made on this law received more than 1.5 lakhs of
letters and suggestions where it was reaffirmed and reiterated that the right to
nutritious food is a indivisible part of the right to life with dignity and that this
right should be granted to each and every citizen in the country. Those who do
not wish to claim their entitlement could go to the market to get the food of his
or her choice. Thus the discrepancies of choice available remain. In all states
within India, at par, 67 percent population will be considered as poor.

Fortification of the food is an issue that has been overlooked in the debate.
However, it is through this process that chemicals are mixed in the food meant
for children and this could adversely affect the situation of malnutrition.
The Basis of the Food Security Act
The preamble of the Act states that An Act to provide for food and nutrition-
al security in human life cycle approach,by ensuring access to adequate quantity
of quality food at affordable pricesto people to live a life with dignity and for
matters connected therewith orincidental thereto.

Main Provisions of the National Food Security Act 2013

As a result of drought and famine in various parts of the country many peo-
ple were dying due to hunger and starvation. This created uproar among
those who are sensitive to such issues. Therefore many of such individu-
als, organizations, and peoples organization came together and initiated a
campaign against such tragic situation created by the years of institutional
neglect. After a long drawn struggle, lobbying and campaign, finally, on
10th September, 2013, the National Food Security Act was enacted. The
main provisions of this law are discussed below.

Scope of the National Food Security Act

The major points of this law are:
1. It will be implemented in the entire country.
2. As per the census 2011, 67 percent of the population will be covered under the
Act. This will include 75 percent rural population and 50 percent urban
population. This percentage will vary for each
state depending on the poverty in rural and Meaning of Meal
urban areas under the Law
3. The scope of Act include provision of food Meal implies hot cooked
grains under the Targeted public Distribution fresh food or food that is pre-
System (TDPS) and hot cooked fresh cooked and can be re-heated
nutritious meal through the Aanganwadis and to serve it hot or the material
under the Mid Day meal Scheme that can be taken at home as
4. Maternity Benefits have also been brought take home ration.
under the scope of the law
5. Eligible beneficiaries of this scheme are categorized as those who are Priority
one and Antodaya households
6. Identification of priority beneficiaries need to be done within 365 days of Act
coming into force. Section 1 subsection 3 of the Act says that the Act shall have
deemed to come into force since 5th day of July 2013
Rights provided under the
National Food Security Act

Under the National Food Security Act four types of

rights are provided. These are:
1. Food grains from the fair price shop
Each person from the priority households is entitled to 5 kgs of foodgrains
per month, (at the price of rice Rs 3 per kg, wheat Rs 2 per kg and Millet
Rs 1 per kg)
Antyodaya households to 35 kgs per household per month at the rates
mentioned above.

2. Complete Nutritious Meal from Anganwadi

Every pregnant and lactating mother is entitled to a free meal at the local
anganwadi (during pregnancy and six months after child birth)
consisting of 600 calories and 18-20 gram proteins nutritious food.
For children below six months, exclusive breastfeeding shall be
For children in the age group of 6 months to 3 years will receive
nutritious meal consisting of 500 calories and 12 to 15 grams of protein.
Children in the age group of 3 to 6 years will get hot cooked fresh
nutritious meals consisting of 500 calories and 12 to 15 grams of protein
at the anganwadi center.
Through Anganwadi identification of malnourished children will be
done in the local area
Malnourished children will be allowed to carry 800 calories and 20 to 25
grams protein nutritious meal free to home
Every school and anganwadi is to have facilities for cooking meals,
drinking water and sanitation.
Mid Day meals in Schools

For children aged 6-14 years, one free mid-day meal shall be provided every
day (except on school holidays) in all schools run by local bodies, government
and government aided schools, up to Class VIII. This will behot cooked fresh
meal consisting of 450 calories, 12 grams proteins for children in class I to V
and 700 calories and 20 grams proteins for children in class VI to VIII.
Every school is to have facilities for cooking meals, drinking water and
Social Audit will be conducted to monitor if the children are getting the meals in
the prescribed quantity and quality. It must be ensured that the children should
receive the food in the manner prescribed by the state.

In this context the Ministry of Human Resource Development has prescribed

the following measures on 1st December 2009
S.No. Ingredients Quantity per child Quantity per child per
per day Primary day Secondary
1. Cereals 100 grams 150 grams
2. Pulses 20 grams 30 grams
3. Vegetables 50 grams 75 grams
4. Edible oil 5 grams 7.5 grams
and fats
5. Salt and As required As required
Maternity Benefits to Pregnant and
Lactating mothers

Every pregnant and lactating mother is entitled to maternity

benefits of Rs 6,000, in installments by the scheme formulated by the central

Mechanisms and Systems Built in under

the National Food Security Act

National Food Security Act and Women Empowerment

For purposes of issuing ration cards, the eldest woman in the household
(not less than 18 years of age) shall be considered head of the household
This Act provides for maternity benefits as well as right to food an
nutritional security
Every pregnant and lactating mother is entitled to a free meal at the local
anganwadi (during pregnancy and six months after child birth) as well as
maternity benefits of Rs 6,000, in instalments.
Grievance Redressal Mechanism
States will have the responsibility to set up separate mechanism under the Act.
The law provides for a two-tier grievance redressal structure, involving the
District Grievance Redressal Officer (DGRO) at the district level and State
Food Commission at the state level.
DGROs shall be appointed by state governments for each district to hear
complaints and take necessary action according to norms to be prescribed by
state governments. If a complainant (or the officer or authority against whom
an order has been passed by the DGRO) is not satisfied, he or she may file an
appeal before the State Food Commission.
To monitor and evaluate the implementation of the Act, to give advice to
the states governments and their agencies, and to inquire into violations of
entitlements, the Act
provides for the creation
of State Food
Commissions. Each
Commission shall
consist of a
chairperson, five
other members and a
memb er-s ecretar y
(including at least
two women and one
member each from
Scheduled Castes
and Scheduled Tribes). Maximum age of members will be 65 years. Their
appointment and conditions for the appointment will be decided by the State
government. The term of appointment will be for five years.
The main function of the State Commission is to monitor and evaluate the
implementation of the Act, to give advice to the states governments, and to
inquire into violations of entitlements, either suo motu or on receipt of a
complaint, and with all the powers of a civil court while trying a suit under
the Code of Civil Procedure 1908.
State Commissions also have to hear appeals against orders of the District
Grievance Redressal Officer and prepare annual reports to be laid before the
state legislature.
State government if wishes may empower any current working constitutional
body to take up additional responsibility of the Food Commission.
Transparency and Monitoring Provisions
Provisions have been made for disclosure of records relating to PDS,
conducting social audits and evaluation of food security schemes under the
Act and setting up of Vigilance Committees at local level in order to ensure
transparency and accountability.
Responsibility to Implement
the National Food Security Act
The responsibility to implement the National Food Security Act is
placed on the central government, the state government and all the
local bodies.

Central Government
1. The central government will buy food grains from the farmers at the
minimum support price. These grains procured will be made available to
the states to distribute through the Public Distribution System. In every
state these grains will be delivered at the identified godowns/storehouses
2. The Central Government will provide assistance to States in meeting the
expenditure incurred by them on transportation of food grains within the
State, its handling and Fair Price Shop dealers margin as per norms to be
devised for this purpose.
3. Will establish and maintain the latest modern and scientific storage at
various levels

State Government
1. Every state government will implement and monitor the implementation
of different Food Security schemes as per the guidelines issued through
different ministries and departments
2. Will arrange to pick up the food grains from godowns/warehouses to the
fair price shops and beneficiaries
3. In case due to any reason, if the beneficiary is not receiving food grains
or meals then the state government will provide for food security
4. The state government will ensure that PDS is effectively working and for
the purpose will create suitable arrangements for storage at various levels
within the state. It will also develop capacity of the different
stakeholders involved in the process and will also issue licence to the fair
price shop dealers.
Local Bodies

1. Local bodies are responsible to effectively implement the law in the

locality as per the guidelines and directions issued by the state
2. The state government could give them any additional responsibility
3. They will play a crucial role as representatives in local vigilance and
Transparency and Accountability in the
National Food Security Act
The state government will make the rules and ensure that the system is in place
for ascertaining transparency and accountability. As per the directions issued
by the state government all targeted PDS-related records will be placed in the
public domain and will be kept open for inspection by the public.
1. Local bodies authorized by the state government will conduct periodic
social audits of the PDS and other welfare schemes and will also make
necessary intervention wherever required
2. In case the central government thinks it is necessary it can get the social
audit done by the expert independent bodies
3. To ensure transparency in the targeted PDS and its proper functioning,
vigilance committees could be set up at the state, district, block and fair price
shop levels to supervise all schemes under the act. The purpose is to ensure
the implementation of law and to monitor in order to prevent corruption,
theft, control violation of law and to make complaint in writing to District
Grievance Redressal Officer

Price of Food Grain

Under the National Food Security Act the price of the food grains (at the price
of rice Rs 3 per kg, wheat Rs 2 per kg and Millet Rs 1 per kg) was fixed for
initial three years. These may be revised after three years as per the minimum
support price or as per the actual cost.

What can be done if there is a Default?

In case the beneficiary is not getting any entitlement from the central or the
state government then the law provides for redress. In case of default, the
provision for penalty on public servant or authority may be imposed by the
State Food Commission. If an order of the DGRO is not complied with, the
concerned authority or officer can be fined up to Rs. 5,000. The Commission
can authorise any of its members to act as an adjudicating officer for this
Food Security For People Living In Remote,
Hilly And Tribal Areas
The Central Government and the State Governments shall, while implementing
the provisions of this Act and the schemes for meeting specified entitlements,
give special focus to the needs of the vulnerable groups especially in remote ar-
eas and other areas which are difficult to access, hilly and tribal areas for ensur-
ing their food security.

National Food Security Act and

Other Schemes- Programmes

The provisions of this Act shall not preclude the Central Government or the State
Government from continuing or formulating other food based welfare schemes.
The State Government may, continue with or formulate food or nutrition based
plans or schemes providing for benefits higher than the benefits provided under
this Act, from its own resources.

The Process of payment Under

the Maternity Benefit Scheme
The central government in consultation with the state governments will notify
as per the rules for determining the process of payment under the maternity
benefit scheme. The Rules will be placed before both the houses.

Institutional Aspects Under the

National Food Security Act
In order to implement the provisions of this law, a huge amount of fund
is required. Mainly, the Central government will raise such expenses. This
expense will also include storing the food grains in the depots and
transferring it to states. The expenses incurred in providing maternity benefits,
transportation of food grains within states, shopkeepers commissions, providing
mid day and other meals will be divided as per the rules prescribed by the central
government. The expenses of grievance redressal mechanism will be raised by
the state government.
Implementing the provisions of the law in
special circumstances like war, flood, drought etc
In case there is a hindrance in the supply of food grains or meals due to war
or natural calamities like flood, drought, fire, storm, earthquake, etc then the
central or the state governments will not be held accountable towards
beneficiaries. The central government in consultation with the planning
commission, can in the context of a particular area, may declare, if it is feasible
to reach out to beneficiaries there.

Comprehensive Aspects of the Law

We all know that only organizing PDS or providing meals or food grains
will not help to achieve complete food security situation. Eradicating hunger
requires dealing with corruption besides also working in several areas
simultaneously. Revitalization of agriculture is essential and therefore what
is required is agrarian reforms, land reforms to protect the rights of small
and marginal farmers, research and development, provision of remunerative
prices to the farmers, access to inputs, improvement in irrigation facilities,
investment in agriculture and other provisions are being made. There is a need
to provide livelihood security to small farmers for which it is essential that
their basic needs like appropriate price policy needs to be formulated besides
providing them with facilities for irrigation, crop insurance, loans at minimal or no
interest, fertilizers and seed etc are provided. To grow crop necessary is
availability of land and water and no compromise could be done regarding
the same.
Procurement, Storage and
Movement related interventions

(a) Incentivising decentralised procurement including procurement of

coarse grains;
(b) Geographical diversification of procurement operations;
(c) Augmentation of adequate decentralised modern and scientific storage;
(d) Giving top priority to movement of food grains and providing sufficient
number of rakes for this purpose, including expanding the line
capacity of railways to facilitate food grain movement from surplus to
consuming regions.
Other Provisions:
This include access to
(a) safe and adequate drinking water and sanitation;
(b) health care services and facilities;
(c) nutritional, health and education support to adolescent girls;
(d) adequate pensions for senior citizens, persons with disability and single

State-Wise Allocation Of Foodgrains As per the Law

Schedule 4 of the Act provides for information regarding state wise alloca-
tion of food grains by the central government. Initially, a total of 549.26 lakhs
tonnes would be allocated per year. For every state allocation has been done as
per population census 2011 as well as poverty status. There is no provision in
law to make amendments to this. In case any particular state is being allocated
more than what is given here than that enhanced allocation will continue.
Food Security Act and Cash payment
As per the law, the provision of cash payment has been made at two places.
Firstly, provision for food security allowance to entitled beneficiaries in case
of non-supply of entitled foodgrains or meals is provided under the Act.
Secondly, cash transfer provision has been made in the provisions relating to
reform of ration distribution. This implies that as per the law the government
prefers cash payment essential for effective targeted public distribution system.

Reforms In the Targeted Public Distribution System

Provisions have been made under the law to bring changes and reform the PDS.
It has been stated that the Central and State Governments shall endeavour to
progressively undertake necessary reforms in the Targeted Public Distribution
System. Steps have been taken to bring full transparency within the system
to end corruption in all forms and that peoples right should not be violated.
End-to-end computerisation has been suggested in order to ensure transparent
recording of transactions at all levels, and to prevent diversion.
The reforms include doorstep delivery of foodgrains to the Targeted Public
Distribution System outlets by the government.
The law suggests for diversification of commodities distributed under the
Public Distribution System over a period of time.
The Act also provides for support to local public distribution models and grains
The arrangements have been made to store the food grains at the block
level. It has also been promulgated that the food grains must be stored in safe
conditions in a scientific manner.

The Central and the State governments will take steps on regular
basis to improve the performance of the system.
1. The food grains will be transferred from the storehouse to the fair price
shop and to introduce the concept of transparency computerization will be
done for the end to end delivery
2. Aadhar card system has been leveraged for unique identification, with
biometric information of entitled beneficiaries for proper targeting of
benefits under this Act.
3. The Act provides for preference to public institutions or public bodies such
as Panchayats, self help groups, co-operatives, in licensing of fair price shops
and management of fair price shops by women or their collectives
4. The Act also provides for support to local public distribution models and
grains banks.
5. New schemes have been introduced like cash transfer, food coupons, or
other schemes, to the targeted beneficiaries in order to ensure their food
grain entitlements.
Some important Aspects of
the National Food Security Act
The major points of this law are:
1. The National Food Security Act was enacted on 10th September 2013. It
extends to the entire country.
2. As per the provisions of this law food security is a legal right now.
3. It provides for the right to food security to 75% of the rural population and up
to 50% of the urban population.
4. Through this law the fine trap of poverty line has been almost shattered.
Earlier, the effort was made to address only those sections through this law
who fall in the BPL category. If this has been done then only 22% population
would have received the benefits under this Act. However, now after the law
has been passed, 67 percent population is entitled to obtain the benefits of
food security law. The law states that the children less than six years of age are
entitled to claim meals from anaganwadi. And those between 6 to 14 years age
group and are studying in the government or aided schools are entitled to
enjoy Mid day meals and claim their right to food
5. Provision for food security allowance to entitled beneficiaries in case of
non-supply of entitled foodgrains or meals has been made where allowance
will be made available by the state government.
6. The Central government will allocate the food grains
7. The Act provides for preference to public institutions or public bodies such as
Panchayats, self help groups, co-operatives, in licensing of fair price shops and
management of fair price shops by women or their collectives
8. Priority households are entitled to 5 kgs of foodgrains per person per month,
and Antyodaya households to 35 kgs per household per month.
9. To make fundamental institutional changes in the PDS efforts have been made
to bring transparency through coumputerization and peoples involvement.
10. As per the law, eldest woman of the household of age 18 years or above to be
the head of the hou sehold for the purpose of issuing of ration cards.
11. Provisions have been made for disclosure of records relating to PDS, social
audits and setting up of Vigilance Committees in order to ensure
transparency and accountability.
12. Grievance redressal mechanism at the District and State levels. States will
have the flexibility to use the existing machinery or set up separate
13. The Act provides for creation of State Food Commissions which will be
empowered to impose penalty and take actions against the erring public of
14. Till now under the PDS provisions were made to supply rice and wheat,
however, with the enactment of new law, now millets or coarse wheat will
also be made available.
15. The scope of Act also has been expanded to include hot cooked fresh
nutritious meal through the Aanganwadis and under the Mid Day meal
16. Maternity Benefits have also been brought under the scope of the law
17. Eligible beneficiaries of this scheme are categorized as those who are
priority one and Antodaya households
18. Identification of priority beneficiaries need to be done within 365 days of
Act coming into force. Section 1 subsection 3 of the Act says that the Act
shall have deemed to come into force since 5th day of July 2013
19. The provision of providing meals under the Integrated Child Development
Scheme (ICDS) is legally recognized and in a way implies that receiving
nutritious meal is a right of children.
20. The law provides for revitalization of agriculture though this has been
mentioned in Schedule 3 of the Act rather than in the main Act
21. The rights of adolescent girls to nutrition, health and education has also
not been mentioned under the main legal provisions rather these are given
in the Schedule List

Public Distribution System (PDS)

Household Category Food grains per Price per Kg

Antodaya 35 kg per house- Rs 1

MilletsPriority 5 kg per per- Rs 3 Rice

son Rs 2 Wheat
Social Audit

Now, the National Food Security Act, 2013 has been operationalized.
This law provide for food and nutritional security in human life cycle
approach, by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at
affordable prices to people to live a life with dignity and for matters
connected therewith or incidental thereto.

This law is important to us from two different angles.
1. Along with the reform of the Public Distribution System, the law also
ensures providing mid day meal, maternity benefits, besides providing
quality meals under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS)

2. The National Food Security Act, 2013 also provides for conducting
social audits of the PDS and other welfare schemes besides setting up
vigilance committees at state, district, block and fair price shop levels
to supervise all schemes under the Act.
In the context of social audit, this law
highlights two significant aspects:
1. social audit means the process in which people collectively monitor
and evaluate the planning and implementation of a programme or scheme.
(See Chapter 1, Section 1 subsection 20)
2. Every local authority, or any other authority or body, as may be
authorised by the State Government, shall conduct or cause to be
conducted, periodic social audits on the functioning of fair price shops, Targeted
Public Distribution System and other welfare schemes, and cause to publicise its
findings and take necessary action, in such manner as may be prescribed by the
State Government. (Chapter XI, Section 28 (1)) It further says that the Central
Government may, if it considers necessary, conduct or cause to be conducted
social audit through independent agencies having experience in conduct of
such audits.

When these two points are read together it may be concluded that meal
programmes run and managed through anganwadi, the work related to
identification of malnourished children, and schemes related to maternity
benefits all are subjected to social audit.

This will be done by local bodies. Now we need to see and ensure that the
eligible women and children should receive their legal entitlement.

Vigilance Committee
The National Food Security Act, 2013 provides that the vigilance committees
should be set up at four different levels State, District, Block and at the level
of Fair Price Shop (Almost at the Panchayat level)
It will also include representatives from dalit community, tribal
community, women, differently abled and
marginalized, those who are beneficiaries
under the law.

The Vigilance Committees shall

regularly supervise the
implementation of all schemes under this
Act and if required will inform the District
Grievance Redressal Officer, in writing,
of any violation of the provisions of this
Act or can complain about malpractice
or misappropriation of funds found
by it.
6. National Food Security Act
and Social Audit
When we talk about community solidarity and participation then it becomes
important that we should also know that what schemes, programmes and laws
are being implemented at the ground level. When a community is considered
as a passive recipient of services under any law, scheme or a programme then
the accountability within the system disappears. In contemporary society, it is
essential that the system should be questioned. It is essential that people should
realize that the system must be accountable towards them and the community
and if the community fails to raise the questions or monitor the progress of
programmes meant for their welfare then their rights will be restricted further
by the state. The National Food Security Act does not provide for superficial
level of accountability rather it is a tool to stir people conscience by enabling
them to question the existence of levels of hunger and fight against starvation
and malnutrition. It will be best that we should use these provisions for the
benefit of all

The Meaning of Social Audit

1. Actually, social audit is a way of measuring, understanding, analyzing
reporting based process where the goal is to improve the performance in
terms of social and ethical parameters. Social audit helps to narrow gaps
between vision or goal and reality, between efficiency and effectiveness. Several
activities are taken up under this process like building rapport and trust
among people and convince them that their participation is crucial and will
improve the outcome of the programme and pressurize the government and
the local panchayats to follow the open door policy. Creating awareness among
beneficiaries and providers of local social and productive services is a crucial
task. It involve techniques like engagement of people in public programmes,
maintaining transparency, keeping the accounts and the number clear,
measuring the programme performance as per the standards set while
monitoring and implementing the same through collective decision making

Here, complete information is shared about a scheme or programme like

National Food Security Act, PDS, ICDS, Mid Day meal, maternity
benefits, food produce under agriculture related policies and system etc with
people so that they know what rights are granted to them under such schemes,
whether the objectives of such programmes are fulfilled, who is responsible to do
different tasks to implement such scheme and whether that person is doing
his or her job properly or not. It increases efficacy and effectiveness of local
development programmes.
Once the scheme is implemented on the ground, an evaluation is done to
ensure if the task is done as per the objective laid down. The basic object
is to assess the physical and financial gaps between needs and resources
available for local development. Social auditing creates a positive impact
upon local governance while strengthening the concept of democracy,
accountability and transparency at the local level. It values the voice of stakeholders,
including marginalized/poor groups whose voices are rarely heard. It helps to
trains the community on participatory local planning and encourages local
democracy. The purpose of the National Food Security Act is to bring change in the
situation of hunger and food insecurity in the country.

Whether the situation changes on the ground with the implementation of this
law or not that can only be decided by the people. Social audit encourages
community participation and benefits disadvantaged groups. It promotes
collective decision making and sharing responsibilities and makes state
accountable to people. Social audit helps us to grasp the true impact of changes
while focusing on ground realities. We can make out if in an anganwadi efforts
were made to provide services in an equitable manner or not. One can know
the feedback of beneficiaries immediately, and if caste, sex, religion or other
grounds are impeding the operation of the programme at the ground level.
Creating Institutional Changes
through Social Audit

Social audit could prove to be a very useful tool provided that the
beneficiaries decide that they will monitor every scheme and programme,
will question everything happening aroundthem, will collect information
on relevant issues, and will utilize the law to ultimately change the process
of governance. To conduct social audit we need to develop a comprehensive
understanding about the law and the scheme besides we also need to create
a group of trained people who will participate actively and contribute fully
while conducting the social audit at the level of gram sabha/ward sabha.
And once malpractices or corruption is found during the process, we need
to fight and struggle against this system of mismanagement.

Social audit is a democratic process through which people participate

equally and effectively along with the state and the government officials to create a
system where the desired object is achieved through participatory
governance. It is a powerful medium to empower those who are
Importance of Social Audit

We need to understand that audit can be done to implement the legal

provisions at societal level besides the audit usually done by the
commercial organizations to regulate finances as per rules and standards
described in commerce or accounting books. The commercial audit is done
by the experts in accounting or economics where ordinary people have no
role to play. Commercial audit is more about numbers in the books.
However, social audit involves active participation of people who are the
right holders or the beneficiaries of a particular scheme. Here, people provide
basic information on whether they have received the benefits they are entitled
to or not. Therefore beneficiaries here are trust worthy sources of information.
Social audit is more about the evaluation of scheme, the manner in which people
receive benefits and rights they are entitled to.

Secondly, when the state or its representatives present documents and

information before the gram sabha or the ward sabha under the scheme of
social audit, then the community will also be empowered in the process to
raise questions. This is a forum where the government and the community
conduct dialogue on equal terms. The state or the government cannot merely
consideras a provider of servicesdolingout the resourcesto thosein needs. Rather,
community plays an important role.

State will be bound to take cognizance on individual complaints, issues

raised by the communities and the problems that persist in the villages or
towns. This will help to resolve complications in implementing policies
and programmes efficiently and effectively and those who frame laws and
policies will come to know of the way these are implemented at the ground

Social audit can be used to evaluate and validate prevailing values and beliefs.
It is commonly said that nothing is happening on the ground or that nobody
is getting any relief or that everything is going as per the plan and that no
problems exist without any proof, data or justification. However, now these
beliefs can be evaluated.
National Food Security Act and Relevance of
Social Audit of Schemes Under It

The major relevance of social audit is

1. To ensure participation of right holders/community in process of

implementation of law/scheme
2. To ascertain whether the implementation is done as per the objectives
decided under the law
3. To determine whether the machinery or the structure required under the
Act/programme to manage it has been established or not
4. To assure the rightful dignified participation of socially and economically
marginalized and deprived sections of the community
5. To verify whether women, homeless, nomads, tribals, dalits, differently
abled, excluded, sick and vulnerable people are availing their rights and
that their situation is improving upon.
6. To confirm that the process under the law is carried out in an effective
manner with no corruption or malpractice in the system
7. To identify the best practices and the recognize the manner in which
programmes could be made more effective and efficient and to understand
the ground realities
8. To rectify any deficiency in the policy on the basis of experiences and
ground realities
9. To make sure that the process is fair and transparent
10. To corroborate that the grievance redressal mechanism is working
responsibly and effectively
Steps in Social Audit
To conduct the social audit under the National Food Security Act following
six steps are necessary:

1. To get the relevant documents from the concerned department at least 15

days in advance. To do this it is essential that at every level of panchayat
social audit worker/committee is established

2. The social audit worker (who is nominated by the gram sabha) will create
awareness among households, families and communities about the
provisions of this law and the grievance redressal mechanism created under
the Act. The social audit worker will not only inform rather s/he will explain
in detail about the provisions of law

3. To conduct the process of social audit a group should be made at the

community level which must be ready and informed about details of the
law/programme as well as the process of audit. This group must include
right holders, women, representative of dalit and tribal communities, and
other marginalized sections of community)

4. To work on the details and collect relevant information to conduct audit

which include working on sources of information, documents, to find out
about the persons/officers responsible for implementing the programme,
testing and certifying the information, collecting relevant details about right
holders, households, community, organizations involved in implementation.

5. Certified valid information, its analysis and dialogue on the same The in
formation collected must be analysed and the outcomes must be shared with
community/rightholders, households. The information must be explained in
details. This process must also include representative of the organizations and
officers responsible or involved in implementing the law/programme/scheme.
In the scheme of social audit, all those involved in or are responsible for
implementing the scheme must be given an opportunity to explain their side
of the story, their issues, problems etc.

6. To ensure accountability it is essential that the outcomes or results along

with proof must be made public and must be discussed in open. It is
necessary that in every village or town, meetings are conducted on the basis
of results obtained and these meetings should be done in the presence of the
officers responsible for implementing the scheme/ members of vigilance
committee/ District Grievance Redressal Officer.

7. Follow up to find out what action has been taken

Preparing for Social Audit
Basically, the following documents/ material will be inspected :
Documents pertaining to the Scheme
Generally, directions issued by the concerned department/ copy of the
allocation order
Information pertaining to the Bank Account
Bills of purchase of material
Documents pertaining to payment in any manner/cashbook
Samples of food/food grains kept in the fair price shop
Action taken or proceeding conducted by the Vigilance department
Stock register
Supplies record
Inspection of place (fair price shop, anganwadi center, school etc) where the
programme/scheme has to be implemented
Quality inspection of food distributed through mid day meal or any such

If we discuss in detail we will need to collect information from the following

sources for the purpose of social audit:

In order to conduct social audit of a particular scheme or programme, the
relevant documents or certified copies pertaining to that scheme must be made
available at least 15 days in advance to the group or the community for which
social audit is to be conducted. For example:

From the Department of Food and Civil Supplies (About PDS)

Register of list of eligible beneficiaries under the fair price shop

List of ration card holders
Register of food grains received and its storage
Register of food grain distribution
Information pertaining to the activities taken up by the Vigilance committee
Details about the action taken by the Grievance Redressal Officer
Samples of food grain/ration
Copies of Material available for dissemination of information to the
community, its use and attempts made by the department to create
awareness among community about the provisions of the law
From Women and Child Development Department (Meals
for Children, Pregnant women and Lactating Mothers)
Register giving details of children, pregnant women and lactating mothers
recorded and kept at anganwadi
Attendance Record/Register
Survey Register for survey of village done by anaganwadi
Register for Meals Distribution
Growth Monitoring Register
List of women eligible for maternity benefits
Documents and List of organizations involved in and responsible for making
mid day meal available (Self help groups/ Voluntary organizations/
Centralised kitchen etc)
Record pertaining to Ration/Raw food made available to prepare cooked
meals to be served through anganwadi center
Copies of Material available for dissemination of information to the
community, its use and attempts made by the department to create awareness
among community about the provisions of the law
From the Local Bodies/Schools (Mid Day meals)

Attendance Register for Children from the School

Mid Day meal Register
Food Item/Material Register giving details of receipt/consumption
Details and list of groups involved in and responsible for making Mid day Meal
available (Self help groups/ Voluntary organizations/ Centralised kitchen etc)
Information pertaining to audit/review conducted by children receiving the
food/bal sabha
Record of School management Committee and discussion with them
Copies of Material available for dissemination of information to the
community, its use and attempts made by the department to create awareness
among community about the provisions of the law

These documents must be analysed and a report must be prepared which

must provide details of number of eligible recipients, number of beneficiaries
receiving the benefits, those deprived, any anomalies, is the grievance redressal
mechanism working properly etc.
Also a creative and a constructive dialogue needs to be initiated with those
involved in implementation of the scheme

These may involve

Administrators and managers of fair price shops
Anganwadi worker/Supervisor/ Child Development Project Officer (Block)
School management committee/ self help groups/cooks/guardians of
children/Chief executive Officer (janpad panchayat)
District grievance redressal officer and dialogue with the members of district
vigilance committee

Dialogue with Right holders and their experiences

Recording facts/statements
Priority Households/ Antodaya families
Dialogue with children, pregnant women/ lactating mothers
Dialogue with school children
Dialogue with women under Maternity benefit scheme

Making the Analysis of Information Public

With reference to observations, discussions, and documents, the conclusion
that emerges must be presented along with all details and facts before the
social audit platform/local bodies meetings. Discussions will be held on the
same and whatever recommendations that emerges out of such discussion
must be placed before the concerned officer for clear action.

Hunger is not an issue of charity it is a matter of justice

Hunger is not an issue of charity it is a matter of justice
Parties involved in the Social Audit of
National Food Security Act (Schemes Under It)
Making Basic Rights Available - The National Food Security Act
clearly defines the rights of priority households, antodaya households, maternity
benefits, benefits made available to pregnant and lactating mothers through
anganwadi and children. While conducting the social audit, the local bodies
will investigate whether all these right holders are receiving the timely and
qualitative benefits and services without any discrimination, as prescribed
under the law. The provisions in law ascertain that if the government fails to
provide food in the prescribed quantity to any of the right holders, then it
will provide for food allowance in lieu of the same. It should be investigated
if such allowance is provided to the right holder.

How should Investigation be started? Investigation must begin with

individual/ beneficiary household. Then it should be implemented at the
community level. This is a known fact that the threads of implementation at
the ground level are connected with decisions taken or activities conducted
at the Block level and at District level (In context with District Grievance
Redressal Officer). Therefore, attempts must be taken to ensure that the
issues that evolve during the social audit must be taken to the platforms
available at the district level.

At the level of Bodies involved in Implementation - It is essential

to find out the systems and mechanisms available at the local level (fair price
shop, anganwadi center, school, places where food grains are stored etc) Is
the facility used at fair price shop to store the food grain is scientific, safe and
secure or is the shopkeeper using right instrument to measure the food
grains correctly? It is also necessary to ascertain if the board is kept at the
shop which provides correct information and all the registers are available
with complete and accurate record.

Similarly, what are the facilities available at the anganwadi center for children?
Is the place to cook food clean and hygienic? Is the facility of drinking water,
sanitation and toilets avaiable at the anganwadi center? Are the children get-
ting quality food which is healthy and nutritious? Is it regularly served? It is
essential to check the quality of food available for the mid day meal, facility
for children to sit, facilities to cook such food, ingredients used to cook food,
quality of raw items like spices, vegetables, cereals etc
Grievance Redressal Mechanism - It is essential to ensure that if people
are being informed that for redressal of their complaints and grievances under
the food security law a system is established and working at the state and the
district level. Experiences reveal that if complaints and grievances of people
are honestly and sincerely recorded and action is taken on the same then the
system would have changed and that there would be no scope for exploitation and
oppression. It is therefore important to see that the under the provisions
of law that establish the office of grievance redressal officer and vigilance
committee, each and every complaint is recorded, heard and dealt with. Each
complainant must get the receipt of complaint and the complaint must be
resolved adequately and properly within 30 days.

Mutual Coordination among Different Departments - This law

cannot be implemented by one person, one organization or one department
rather it requires coordination among different organizations, government
departments and ministries. Though the Food and Civil Supplies
Department plays a major role, yet it also requires that Women and Child
Development Department, Panchayat and Rural Development Department, City
Administration Section, Social Welfare Department, and Finance Department
all are important. Therefore, coordination among all such departments and
sections (from household level to state level) becomes essential. In case there is
no effective coordination or seamless linkage between these government units
then surely the violation of provisions of law cannot be prevented. Therefore
while conducting social audit these different aspects need to be evaluated in
order to comprehensively understand the process and bring forth the strength
and weaknesses involved

Quality - While conducting the social audit, it is essential to see if the

qualitative process is deployed while implementing the scheme/programme. It
is necessary to ensure that the quality of food grains providedby the fair price
shopis satisfactory. It is important to ascertain the quality of food children and
pregnant or lactating mothers are getting through anganwadi center or through
mid day meal scheme in the school.

Social Inequality and Discrimination- One of the major reasons

for food insecurity and malnourishment is growing social inequality. It is
important to ensure that the benefits available under the National Food
Security Act are not only limited food or food grains but these rights are made
available to the right holders without any discrimination. While conducting
social audit it is essential to confirm and ensure that while making the list of
eligible households or while issuing the ration card, or during the process
of disbursing food grains through fair price shops, or while giving food to
children and women in the anganwadi center or while implementing the
midday meal programme in schools or while disbursing maternity benefits, no
discrimination is done. It is important to investigate any such act of
discrimination on the basis of sex, caste, class, religion, social or economic

Exclusion - There are certain sections within the community which are
deprived of their rights due to various reasons. These people should be
provided their right to food security in a dignified manner and for this rea-
son it is essential to formulate standards and build in system which could
take care of such anomalies. For example the differently abled people should
not be left out of such process of implementing food security law. We need to
ensure that in an anganwadi center the differently abled children should
not be left out. There could be a possibility that these children affected by
disability of any form are not coming to anganwadi center, or even if they wish to
attend, their names is not registered, or even if their name is registered yet they
are not coming on regular basis and those implementing the programme have
neglected to see this fact. If this is happening then it means situation needs to
be rectified because it entails exclusion.

Similarly, an elderly person or a seriously ill person could not make it to fair
price shop to demand his or her rights and nobody else may bother to ensure
that such person should receive his or her part of food under the provision of
law. The object of this law is to ensure constitutional rights of each and every
deprived and marginalized person should be protected and if such instances
continue to exclude people on the basis of inequality and discrimination then
it may be interpreted that the law has failed to serve its purpose. This law was
enacted with the purpose to protect the rights of deprived and marginalized
sections of the community.

Infrastructure -To implement the provisions of this law structural facilities

play crucial role. Storage houses to safely preserve the food grains, ventilated
clean building to run an anganwadi center, facilities to cook meals in schools
and anganwadi, availability of clean drinking water, sanitation, clean toilets, all
these are part of the package of the right to food security.

Evolve Systems as per the provisions of the Law - During the

social audit there is a need to check the facts like setting up a vigilance
committee at the level of fair price shop who are the people who are the part of
such committee? What is the process of creating such committee? Is this comm
ittee playing an effective role? Is there any committee that exists at the Block
level? Who are the members of such committee? Is an extensive campaign being
conducted about these committee and are people actually aware of existence of
such committees?
Collecting Information
In conducting social audit there is a need to collect information on the
quality of services and these are not available on papers. To bring forth such
information the system of preparing community report card or citizens
report card could be utilized. For preparing such report card, information is
obtained from the beneficiaries or the right holders within the community about
different aspects of a scheme including the information pertaining to the
services they are receiving, their feedback on the scheme etc For example one
of the question could be if they are receiving food grains under the PDS? Is
it available regularly? What is the quality of food grains being given by the
fair price shop? We may ask people about their feedback and views regarding
various schemes and may request them to give points and their suggestions
to improvise the programme. However, these questions should be simple
and clear

Process of Social Audit

State government is responsible to make rules to conduct social audit of the
Schemes and programmes under the Food Security Act. We need to ask the
state government about the information relating to social audit.

Departmental Coordination
Under the National Food Security Act, ration system, anganwadi programme,
Mid day Meal Scheme, maternity benefits and agriculture department all are
interconnected and inter-related. Therefore this law cannot be operationalized
or managed by any one department. In such situation it is essential to ensure
that coordination must be established between all concerned departments and
accountability of each one is well defined.

We can see the role of each department as-

Food and Civil Supplies Department

Under the provisions of law, this department is centrally placed, coordinates
and manage the PDS

Women and Child Development Department

This department is responsible for making and implementing scheme of
providing meals and food to women and children. Maternity benefit scheme is
also managed by this department
Public Health and Family Welfare Division
This unit plays an important role in promoting Breastfeeding, identifying
malnourished children and providing maternity benefits.

Rural Development and

City Administration Department
This section is responsible for implementing the Scheme of Mid Day Meal and
onus is placed to ensure that all the Schemes are properly implemented

Social Welfare Department

It plays a crucial role in identification of marginalized, deprived and
vulnerable sections of society

Agriculture Department
Onus is placed to improve the situation of agriculture to ensure food security

National Food Security Act 2013

Transparency and Accountability

1. Transparency : Placing all PDS records in public domain and

keeping them open for public inspection.
2. Social Audits: Conducting periodic social audits of PDS and
other schemes
3. End to end : Using Information and communication technology
(including end to end Computerization computerization
of the PDS to ensure transparent recording of all
transactions at all levels
4. Committees: Vigilance Setting up Vigilance committees at state,
district, block and fair price shop levels to supervise
all schemes under the Act
5. Participation: Peoples Provisions have been made to ensure
peoples participation at all levels