Critical Analysis of Food Security Bill
The Food Security Bill is look very admiring on the paper as all legislation of India do but has some critical issues to discuss and fight out.
- Corruption and leakages in Public Distribution System is a major obstacle for successful implementation of this act.
- Calamity – The Act states that there shall be no right to food in case of war or natural calamity such as floods, drought, cyclone, earthquake etc. But floods or droughts are most frequent in many of states such as Maharashtra, Bihar, Odisha etc.
- Quality of Food – The act provides right to food but not guarantees quality food which is most significant issue in country like India where 42% of children are suffering from Malnutrition.
- The spending by states such as on Grievance mechanism etc. can affect implementation of act.
- Small farmers who go grow grains for personal consumption may shift to other crops to make more money and buy subsidised grain. This can affect food grain output.
- Also grievance redressal system features may overlap with citizen charter bill.
- India and WTO – In recent 9th Ministerial conference of WTO, USA and EU put pressure on India to remove huge subsidy on food grains which targets almost 67% of population because this can led to increase in overall prices of food grains around the world. The outcomes of conference are:-
- Peace Clause – it offered 4 yrs immunity from penalties of breaching farm subsidy cap of 10% under Agreement on Agriculture (AoA).
- India opposed it and states that Peace Clause should be in place till the time a permanent solution is found.
- But now WTO members can still drag India in dispute settlement under Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (ASCM).
- Now Govt can’t increase entitlements of food grains guaranteed under this act.
- It may not be possible to introduce other food such as pulses, oil etc. other than rice, wheat or millet in PDS if originally not provided under this act.
- India shall ensure that stocks procured under this act shall not distort trade or adversely affect the food security of other members.
- Quality of Food – The govt shall take special measures to increase quality of food such as abolish food adulteration etc. The Food Safety Police (FSP) concept shall be added in the legislation. The FSP shall be given enough power to ensure good quality of food and health of people. Also state shall create Food safety foundation with necessary testing equipment to abolish food adulteration.
- To ensure Right to Food, the prices of all food commodities shall be regulated as prices of vegetables and other necessary commodities is rising sharply. Because only wheat or rice or millet can’t ensure right to food. Also if prices are not regulated then Farmers can shift to more profitable crops which can affect food grain output and led to degradation of land in case wrong choice.
The Act is still a good start to fight the poverty and ensure food to all. The stand of India in WTO against powerful countries is also admiring towards capturing powerful position in the world.