Guest Lecture on National Food Security Bill, 23 September 2013


A Report

A guest lecture by Dr. Nalini Bahuguna on the National Food Security Bill, (recently passed by the Parliament in the monsoon session) was organized on 23 September 2013 in the AV Hall. The lecture began with an insight into the causes of the food crisis. Although increased demand due to rise in per capita income is an important factor behind the rise in food prices, the actual reason behind this is the supply side constraints, which include, reduction in acreage under food grains (as farmers are shifting to cultivation of cash crops), reduction in input subsidy, climate change, neglect of the agricultural sector, etc.

The nutritional scenario gives a dismal picture of India, as majority of its population is malnourished, especially women and children.  Thus there arises need for ‘food security’, which includes availability, accessibility (both physical and economical) and absorption of food. The “National Food Security Bill” is a legal approach to food security, it implies a shift from the welfare approach to legal or ‘right based’ approach. The bill aims to provide subsidized food grains to approximately two thirds of India's 1.2 billion people.

However, there are certain contentious issues related to the bill, like exemption from providing food at time of crisis, high centralization, procurement, transportation costs to eastern states, decision of allowance, negligence of diversified demand, and so on. Moreover, certain operational challenges are also related to the bill like lack of warehouses, low yield and productivity, volatility of production and leakages from Public Distribution System (PDS).

Besides this, the bill is expected to induce severe imbalances in the production of oilseeds and pulses and create demand pressures, which will inevitably reflect over the market prices of food grains. Furthermore, the higher food subsidy burden on the budget will raise the fiscal deficit, restrict private initiative in agriculture, reduce competition due to government domination in the grain market, shift funds from investment to subsidies in agriculture, and continue to concentrate on cereal production when shifts in consumer demand patterns indicate an urgent need to focus more on protein, fruits and vegetables.

It can thus be concluded that strong political will and administrative commitment for efficient implementation, greater monitoring, evaluation and regular reforms are essential to enable the fundamental right to food.


Yashasvi Pandey

B.Sc (H) Sem VI