From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : NFSA, PMGKAY
Mains level : Schemes related to food security
The government discontinued the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) and has decided to provide free foodgrains to all 81 crore beneficiaries covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) for one year.
- PMGKAY is a food security welfare scheme announced by the GoI in March 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic in India.
- The program is operated by the Department of Food and Public Distribution under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
- The scale of this welfare scheme makes it the largest food security program in the world.
Targets of the scheme
- To feed the poorest citizens of India by providing grain through the Public Distribution System to all the priority households (ration card holders and those identified by the Antyodaya Anna Yojana scheme).
- PMGKAY provides 5 kg of rice or wheat (according to regional dietary preferences) per person/month and 1 kg of dal to each family holding a ration card.
Success of the scheme
- Pandemic mitigation: It was the first step by the government when pandemic affected India.
- Wide section of beneficiaries: The scheme reached its targeted population feeding almost 80Cr people.
- Support to migrants: It has proven to be more of a safety net to migrant people who had job and livelihood losses.
- Food and Nutrition security: This has also ensured nutrition security to children of the migrant workers.
Limitations of the scheme
- Corruption: The scheme has been affected by widespread corruption, leakages and failure to distribute grain to the intended recipients.
- Leakages: Out of the 79.25 crore beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), only 55 crore have so far received their 5 kg.
- Inaccessibility: Many people were denied their share due to inability to access ration cards.
- Low consumption: Livelihood losses led to decline in aggregate demand and resulted into lowest ever consumption expenditure by the people owing to scarcity of cash.
- Resale of subsidized grains: This in turn led to selling of the free grains obtained in the local markets for cash.
Back2Basics: National Food Security (NFS) Act
- The NFS Act, 2013 aims to provide subsidized food grains to approximately two-thirds of India’s 1.2 billion people.
- It was signed into law on 12 September 2013, retroactive to 5 July 2013.
- It converts into legal entitlements for existing food security programmes of the GoI.
- It includes the Midday Meal Scheme, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme and the Public Distribution System (PDS).
- Further, the NFSA 2013 recognizes maternity entitlements.
- The Midday Meal Scheme and the ICDS are universal in nature whereas the PDS will reach about two-thirds of the population (75% in rural areas and 50% in urban areas).
- Pregnant women, lactating mothers, and certain categories of children are eligible for daily free cereals.
Key provisions of NFSA
- The NFSA provides a legal right to persons belonging to “eligible households” to receive foodgrains at a subsidised price.
- It includes rice at Rs 3/kg, wheat at Rs 2/kg and coarse grain at Rs 1/kg — under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).
- These are called central issue prices (CIPs).
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