People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 01

January 01, 2012


AIDWA Flays Fraudulent Food Security Bill


THE All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) has urged the parliament of India to reject the draft food security bill which the UPA-2 government introduced in Lok Sabha on December 22. According to the association, the bill is in fact a more dangerous and rehashed version of the existing targeted public distribution system (TPDS) that has proved to be an utter failure in view of the manner in which it has eroded the food security of a large majority of the poor, dalits, tribals and women by excluding them from its ambit.


Through a statement issued from New Delhi on December 23, the AIDWA said the latest draft proposes to make available subsidised foodgrains to only certain “priority” households which is the same as the former BPL (below poverty line) category. The number of the beneficiaries will be predetermined by the central government and they are to be identified by a flawed survey based on fraudulent criteria that will exclude a majority of the poor. The remaining “general” --- formerly the above poverty line (APL) --- households will be given foodgrains priced at not less than half the MSP paid for procuring these grains. Moreover, their entitlements will be linked to certain “reforms in the PDS” that will be prescribed by the central government from time to time. These reforms include cash transfers that have been euphemistically called “food security allowance,” the use of food coupons and introduction of the highly controversial Aadhaar cards that do not even have parliamentary sanction. It also reduces the current household entitlement of 35 kg to a per capita entitlement of 7 kg for "priority" (BPL) and only 3 kg for “general” (APL) households, as against the WHO prescribed norm of at least 11 kg per person. The bill proposes to provide wheat at Rs 2 and rice at Rs 3 per kg at a time when several state governments have on their own accord increased the number of households entitled to BPL status and are providing them with foodgrains at Re 1 or Rs 2 per kg.  


In view of these facts, the AIDWA has described the bill as a cruel joke upon the people and especially the women of this country who are suffering from a constant erosion of the public distribution system (PDS) and an incessant increase in the prices of essential commodities, which has led to widespread hunger and malnutrition. The AIDWA has also recalled that the India: Human Development Report 2011, brought out by the Planning Commission, shows that 64.3 per cent women of the lowest income groups, 56 per cent women of the middle income groups and 46.1 per cent women of the highest income groups suffer from anaemia. 


The AIDWA has therefore demanded that the bill must be rejected in its present form since in its present form it is bound to further erode the food security system in accordance with the neo-liberal agenda of the agribusiness corporates.


Nothing less than a universal public distribution system would suffice for addressing this nutritional crisis, the organisation has said, demanding in its place a food security act that guarantees the Indian citizens universal right to food and ensures at least 35 kg of foodgrains per month for every household at Rs.2 per kg.