From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : National Food Security Act 2013
Mains level : Paper 3- Food Security
The article takes stock of the food insecurity and malnutrition in India with the aid of two recently published reports.
Reports about food security in India
- Two recent reports — “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020” by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations and the 2020 Hunger report, “Better Nutrition, Better Tomorrow” by the Bread for the World Institute – document staggering facts about Indian food insecurity and malnutrition.
- The reports use two globally recognised indicators, Prevalence of Undernourishment (PoU) and the Prevalence of Moderate or Severe Food Insecurity (PMSFI).
- Using these indicators, the reports indicate India to be one of the most food-insecure countries, with the highest rates of stunting and wasting among other South Asian countries.
Comparing rate of reduction in malnutrition with neighbouring countries
- Malnutrition in India has not declined as much as the decline has occurred in terms of poverty.
- On the contrary, the reduction is found to be much lower than in neighbouring China, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh.
- The decline in China is way higher than that of India, even though it had started with lower levels of PoU in 2000.
Food security during pandemic and National Food Security Act 2013
- Two crucial elements still got left out in the National Food Security Act – 2013.
- These two elements are the non-inclusion of nutritious food items such as pulses and exclusion of potential beneficiaries.
- Because of this, the current COVID-19 pandemic would make the situation worse in general, more so for vulnerable groups.
- Though States have temporarily expanded their coverage in the wake of the crisis, the problem of malnutrition is likely to deepen in the coming years.
- Hence, a major shift in policy has to encompass the immediate universalisation of the Public Distribution System which should definitely not be temporary in nature.
The need of the hour remains the right utilisation and expansion of existing programmes to ensure that we arrest at least some part of this burgeoning malnutrition in the country.