The much debated Food Security Bill seeks to ensure food and nutritional security by enabling majority of the country’s population to purchase food grains at subsidised rates. The Bill recently got cleared by the Union Cabinet, who also assured the clearance of the Lokpal Bill sometime soon. This Food Security Bill seeks to uplift the poor and the underprivileged of the country, a stunning 62.5% of the population, by at least ensuring them a regular meal. If implemented properly, this Bill can check ‘starvation’ off the list of the country, as food will be available to the masses in as cheap as Rs 3 for rice and Rs 2 for wheat.
Many critics view this Bill as the ‘pet-project’ taken up by Sonia Gandhi to taint Anna’s anti-graft campaign, all the while restoring Congress’ ‘pro-poor’ image. This seemingly innocent Bill of goodwill has turned into a national debate with the critics, politicians, economists and journalists inspecting every single aspect of the Bill, and its true intentions, with a magnifying glass. There has been a lot of speculation regarding where the money for the actual implementation of the bill will come from, as the country’s financial graph is already facing a slowdown. Making food a ‘right’ will demand the government to invest billions of rupees in the farm sector. The total amount of money is an intimidating figure and one can’t help but wonder how the government plans to conjure the sum.
And this is where the activists and the critics, who are apprehensive about the Bill, jump in. They say the main reason behind UPA-II’s enthusiasm for this Bill is to regain their lost credibility and dignity after the tsunami of the Anna movement, the ever increasing oil prices, the 2G scam and the Commonwealth Games rocked them to their very core. Though the Bill envelopes a noble cause, the working of the PDS (Public Distribution System) further raises grave concerns. The PDS is a haven of corruption and adultery, and is in complete control of the local leaders for earning black money. The Supreme Court itself scarred the PDS further, by confirming the fact that it is an institution of corruption.
The Food Security Bill would not help the tense fiscal situation of the country. Shekhar Gupta, the Indian Express Editor-in-chief, considers that the economic growth of the country will follow the snail-trail of about 5% through the fiscal year 2013. Just like Sharad Pawar and activist Devinder Sharma consider that the Food Security Bill is not for the benefits of the poor alone. Well, what finally happens will be proven soon…and hopefully the bill justifies the food and nutritional security of the poor and the underprivileged.