(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
December 25, 2011
Food Security Bill is Unacceptable
Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of
THE current version of the Food Security Bill, which is scheduled to be finalised by the cabinet, is a travesty of food security. Not only does it continue the flawed system of targeting into APL and BPL sections, though under a new nomenclature of priority and general sections, the latest version links rights and entitlements of general sections to so-called reforms in the PDS. These reforms which have now been brought in as a separate chapter in the bill include highly contested policy measures such as cash transfers instead of foodgrains, food coupons and even the use of “aadhar.”
The Polit Bureau strongly objects to these new provisions which will reduce the entire bill to a platform to push through neo-liberal reforms with legal sanction, which are against the interests of the people and which will lead to further exclusions. In a blatant violation of federal norms, the central government reserves the right to notify the date of the PDS reforms which will be mandatory for all state governments.
Equally violative of the federal structure, while under provisions of the bill the central government alone can decide the percentage of people below BPL, the state governments will have to pay a substantial share of the funds required for other schemes included in the bill without any indication of what the centre-state ratio of expenditure will be.
It appears that the central government wants to utilise the widespread demand for a strong Food Security Bill to push through narrow agendas of those agribusinesses and corporates who want dismantling of the PDS and a truncated Food Security Bill.
The CPI(M) demands removal of the linking of entitlements to so-called reform. The bill must include the universal right to at least 35 kg of foodgrains at two rupees a kilo.