Food Security Bill | Why food security bill is important to India - Article by M S Swaminathan

What Mahatma Gandhi said of the role of food in a human being's life in a 1946 speech at Noakhali, now in Bangladesh, remains the most powerful expression of the importance of making access to food a basic human right. Gandhiji also wanted that the pathway to ending hunger should involve opportunities for everyone to earn their daily bread, since the process of ending hunger should not lead to the erosion of human dignity. Unfortunately, this message was forgotten after Independence, and government departments started referring to those being provided any form of social support as “beneficiaries.”

Points in Nutshell
1. India is still home to the largest number of under nourished and malnourished children, women and men in any country. The number of people going to bed partially hungry now is more than the entire population of India in 1947.
2. The Planning Commission's submission before the Supreme Court on the amount of money needed per day per person in urban and rural India to meet needs in the areas of nutrition, education and health care was Rs.35 a day in urban India, and Rs.26 in rural India.
3. The proposed National Food Security Bill, 2011 with Human Life-cycle Approach can erase India's image as the land of the malnourished.
4.  To make food-for-all a legal right, it is necessary to adopt a Universal Public Distribution System (PDS) with common but differentiated entitlements with reference to the cost and quantity of foodgrain. The draft Bill adopts the nomenclature suggested by the National Advisory Council (NAC) and divides the population into priority , that is, those who need adequate social support, and general , that is, those who can afford to pay a higher price for foodgrain.
5. During 2010-11, India's farmers produced 86 million tonnes of wheat, 95 million tonnes of rice and 42 million tonnes of nutri-cereals. The production of nutri-cereals, grown in dry farming areas, will go up if procurement and consumption go up. Thus, the addition of these foodgrain will help strengthen foodgrain availability and nutrition security.
6. The National Food Security Bill, 2011, provides the last chance to launch a frontal attack on poverty-induced hunger and to realise Mahatma Gandhi's desire that the God of Bread should be present in every home and hut in India. We should not miss this opportunity.

Human Life-cycle Approach
The life cycle provides a powerful framework for understanding the vulnerabilities and opportunities for investing in children and youth. Human development during childhood and youth is not a uniform process; critical periods exist during the life cycle. Any significant harm that occurs during these critical periods is likely to produce particularly severe, often irreversible, and intergenerational effects. A life cycle approach to food security will imply attention to the nutritional needs of a human being from conception to cremation. Say for example, the most vulnerable but neglected segment is the first 1,000 days in a child's life — the period from conception to the age of two, when much of the brain development takes place.

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