Food Security in India is still a major issue in India. India attained food self-sufficiency by the late 1980s. It means the availability, accessibility, and affordability of eatable commodities to all people at all times. Whenever there is a problem in food production or distribution of food, the poor people are the most vulnerable.
Food security depends on the government actions and vigilance and the Public Distribution System.It has three dimensions they are availability, accessibility, and affordability.
The availability of food means that there are enough edible commodities in government hands such as grains such as rice, wheat, etc stored in government granaries, agriculture production within the country is self-sufficient and food imports are good enough.
The accessibility to food, everyone has reached to food easily or within his reach.
The edibles should be available at cheap, affordable prices so that every individual has enough finance to buy them.
Importance of food security in India
India has a huge ratio of poor population in the world. This section of the society is always food insecure while the person above the poverty line might face food insecurity at times, during calamity, drought, flood, failure of crops, famine, etc.
Due to such incidents, agriculture production decreases and creates a shortage of agricultural commodities, and the prices also go up. Due to high prices, one might be able to afford it. If such a situation is stretched over a longer time period it might cause starvation and in turn, lead to famine.
These famines in turn cause the spread of disease and even epidemics or pandemics may occur to a decrease in the intake of nutrients. India has had such experiences in the past such Famine of Bengal in 1943 which killed 30 lakh people in the Province of Bengal.
The people who died the most in such famine are poor people such as labourers, fishermen, farmers, etc.
Famines also existed in Kalahandi, Kashipur in Orissa, starvation deaths were reported in Baran Districts of Rajasthan, Palamau district of Jharkhand during recent times.
Therefore food security is important in India.
Schemes for food security in India
Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS)
It covers all children under six, pregnant women, and lactating mothers. Targeted Public Distribution System such as ‘free rice scheme in Tamilnadu by Antyodaya Anna Yojana family cards.
Free 10kg of free grains such as rice, wheat, etc for the destitute poor. In employment schemes such as Mgnrega(Mahatma Gandhi National. Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005) by this act, a job is guaranteed for 100 days a year with minimum wages.
National Food Security Act
It is an act of Parliament that has an objective to provide subsidized food grains to almost two-thirds of countries with 1.2 billion people. This law was signed on 12 September 2013. This is to ensure that all people should get access to food all the time.
Also to ensure food and nutritional security in human life by ensuring adequate access to quality food and reasonable place.
Role of public distribution system in food security in India
It plays an important role in increasing food security and also distributing other rations such as Kerosene, Relief compensation, etc to the poor people. The major commodities are distributed such as rice, wheat, sugar, etc through a chain of shops at a fair price or subsidized price.
It also acts as a key instrument to make the availability of essential commodities at affordable prices throughout the year. The central and state government share the prices of the commodities. Mostly centre procures the commodities from the farmer at MSP(Minimum Support Price) and sells them to the states.
In some states like Tamil Nadu, etc, the state itself procures and sells it to the beneficiaries at subsidized prices.
Issues in food security in India
Due to inflation, the government has to spend more money on PDS. Also, MSP is increasing every year, the government has to spend additional resources to ensure food security. The Public distribution system in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and other southern states performs significantly better than in the Northern states. This gap needs to be addressed.
High storage cost, storing grains in granaries above the specified level deteriorates the quality and also long the storage time, more damage is done to grains in terms of quality. There are enough storage granaries in the country which leads to huge wastage of grains to pests, rains, and to the Sun.
Indian government must ensure that the essential commodities such as rice, wheat, etc reach everyone should ensure Food security which is a part of Social Justice.