20 Mar 2017 | GS 2 | Placing conditions on access to food entitlements is not a marker of a welfare state. Comment on the statement with respect to the recent step of mandating the possession of an Aadhaar number for receiving benefits under the Mid-Day Meal Scheme.

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  • GS2 (Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population)

     

    Placing conditions on access to food entitlements is not a marker of a welfare state. Comment on the statement with respect to the recent step of mandating the possession of an Aadhaar number for receiving benefits under the Mid-Day Meal Scheme.

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  • Profile photo of Rishi ranjan Rishi ranjan @rishiranjan04

    A welfare state is the one that is guided by the economic and societal well being of its citizens. It aims at ensuring that its citizens are not deprived of their rights and therefore acts in accordance with adherence to this principle.
    India has continuously striven to be a welfare state constitutionally as well through its own legislation. Food security has remained a perennial issue since Independence and India’s TPDS scheme and NFSM have done relatively well in ensuring food security. However, hunger, poverty, malnutrition are still India’s problems and so the food security guarantee has its own shortcomings. Though these schemes had the noble intentions of ensuring Food for all, there have been leakages in these schemes. The mid-day meal scheme, which is a part of the SSA, under NFSA, 2013, is aimed at improving the nutritional uptake of the school going children that mandates intake of min 300 calories per day and 12 gms of protein by the children.
    The recent step of mandating the possession of an Aadhaar card for receiving benefits under Mid-day meal scheme might be a step to track the success of this scheme but this might well prove to be detrimental. Denying anybody food on any ground cannot be a prerequisite of a welfare state. So irrespective of whether one holds a Aadhar card or not, the mid-day meal cannot be taken away. While the enrolment of Aadhaar has increased, it is still not 100 percent and therefore anybody missing out on his/her food because of not having Aadhaar is not justified.
    While the intention behind mandating Aadhaar is definitely not malafide but it should not be made the criterion for making food available. In order to track its reach and the quality of food, Govt. can partner with NGOs or PPPs and ensure regular monitoring of the disbursements under the scheme.
    Food for All is one of the foundation stones of a welfare state. To limit it through possession of an identity proof is undermining the motive behind it. A person who is not able to avail food for himself won’t fancy getting an ID card first and then getting the food. Providing food and then enrolling for aadhaar can be the other way around.

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