Unlike other governments in the past, UPA and Congress President are working in tandem to implement various schemes for the welfare of the people. It has been the philosophy of the Congress Party that while industrial and technological development of the country is must, the economic position of poor and marginalized persons should not lost sight of.
While India is fast developing the lot of poor people also need to be taken care of. With this object in view the Congress President has taken an initiative for providing Right to Food to the poor masses. It will be one of the biggest welfare scheme ever launched. Even the country like China does not have such a scheme.
The scheme will cover 68% of population who will get legal right to subsidised food. It is proposed to provide subsidised food grain on ‘individual basis’ instead of the current practice of allocating 35kg of wheat or rice to per family, according to sources.
At present India’s population is over 1.2 billion. The salient feature of the Bill is that a legal right to an “individual” family member would enlarge the scope of food security in the country.
In effect, it means that each individual will possess a ration card and will be entitled to a minimum 7kg of foodgrains under the law as against the prevailing system, wherein, the head of the family has a ration card.
A priority household is likely to get entitlement over 35kg rice/wheat under the law, while a general category may be for only 10-15kg.
The cost of subsidising food grain under the proposed law is expected to touch Rs1 lakh crores annually, as against the current Rs 80,000 crore, Food Ministry explained.
At present, the government supplies 35kg of rice/wheat to 6.52 crore Below Poverty Line families and at least 15kg of food grains to 11.5 crore Above Poverty Line families.
Under the Bill rural as well as urban poor have been included, 46% of the poor in rural and 28% in urban areas. The proposed Bill will create legal entitlement for the poor rather than by an executive order.
This would require requires a colossal system to be put in place in the first place all over India. Recruitment in Food Corporation of India has risen by 10%. FCI godowns are being modernised through computerisation. Now sitting in my office, one can know the quantity, quality and distribution of grain from each godown. CCTV cameras are being installed to watch operations. E-transactions will be enabled so that every payment above 1 lakh will be e-transacted. To complement all this, PDS will be improved through Aadhar.
Initially there will be a pilot project in 50 districts after which, it will be slowly expanded.
It is going to be one of the biggest programme in the world. No country has it. China has a MSP at which grain is available in the market. It goes to the credit of credit of Sonia Gandhi for piloting such a lofty welfare scheme.