Skip to main content

Whither right to food? Social security scheme allocation for woman, child 'reduced'

Counterview Desk

Pointing out that women and children have been ignored in the Union Budget 2021-22, the advocacy group Right to Food Campaign (RtFC) has said that the Government of India should have taken into account the fact that even after the lockdown was lifted, distress among marginalized communities continues, with people having lower incomes and reduced food consumption.
“Even before the lockdown, nutrition levels had stopped improving for some time now, judging from the initial results of the fifth National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5)”, RtFC said in a statement, regretting, “It is disappointing to see that there is no announcement in the budget to expand the Public Distribution System (PDS) to include those who are excluded from the National Food Security Act (NFSA).”

Text:

The Right to Food Campaign is dismayed to see that, at a time of growing hunger and malnutrition, the Union Budget 2021 has actually reduced allocations for crucial social security schemes such as the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), midday meals, maternity entitlements, and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA).
The revised budget estimates for 2020-21 show that ICDS and Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) suffered greatly because of the lockdown and closing of anganwadi centres. The revised estimate for PMMVY (Rs 1,300 crore) is barely half of what was allocated for the programme for 2020-21. That itself was low as the scheme covers only the first child, with a reduced benefit of Rs 5000, while the National Food Security Act entitles all pregnant women to a maternity benefit of at least Rs 6000 per child.
In the 2021-22 budget, ICDS and PMMVY have been clubbed with other schemes, but comparing like with like, it is clear that both programmes have been undermined. The budget allocation for midday meals is pretty much the same in 2021-22 as in 2020-21, and if anything, lower in real terms. The 2021-22 budget for the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) was copy-pasted from the 2020-21 budget, and is also lower in real terms. The budget includes an allocation of Rs 1,000 crore for the women and children of Assam and Bengal’s tea gardens, but no details are provided on how this money is to be utilized.
It is also disappointing to see that there is no announcement in the budget to expand the Public Distribution System (PDS) to include those who are excluded from the NFSA, to update the population estimates to calculate NFSA coverage, or to include items such as edible oil and pulses. While it seems like the food subsidy has increased, this is only a reflection of the central government finally paying the Food Corporation of India (FCI) for the grains distributed over the last few years.
As the recent Hunger Watch survey indicates, even after the lockdown was lifted, distress among marginalized communities continues, with people having lower incomes and reduced food consumption. Even before the lockdown, nutrition levels had stopped improving for some time now, judging from the initial results of the fifth National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5).
Pulses and edible oil should also become legal entitlements under PDS, and should be procured at the Minimum Support Price
The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) was crucial in providing some wage employment in rural areas. There is an urgent need to increase the guarantee of work of 200 days per year and also to increase the wage rates. But the 2021-22 allocation for NREGA is only Rs 73,000 crores (as compared to the revised estimate of Rs 1,15,000 for 2020-21).
In this context, what is required are much higher allocations for all these schemes to meet the following demands:
  1. The PDS should be universalized. Pulses and edible oil should also become legal entitlements under the PDS, and should be procured at the Minimum Support Price (MSP).
  2. Provision of additional food rations under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) should continue for another year.
  3. Hot cooked meals under ICDS and midday meals should be revived immediately. The budgets for these programmes should make adequate provisions for inclusion of eggs in the meals.
  4. Hot cooked meals should extend to children under three years of age through crèches and to pregnant and lactating women through community kitchens.
  5. Maternity entitlements should be universalized and made unconditional. The amount of benefit should be increased to at least Rs 6,000 per child, as per the provisions of NFSA.
  6. Central government contribution for social security pensions should increase at least to Rs 2,000.
  7. Allocation for NREGA should be increased to provide at least 200 days of work per year to all rural households seeking employment, at least at the statutory minimum wage.
  8. All workers providing care work, such as Anganwadi Workers and Helpers, ASHAs, should be provided with at least the minimum wage and decent working conditions.

Comments

TRENDING

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

'Wedding of the century': What does Mukesh Ambani want to prove by such extravaganza?

By NS Venkataraman*  Mukesh  Ambani,   a renowned Indian industrialist who is said to be the richest person in India and  one of the richest persons in the world,   has just now conducted the wedding celebration of  his son in Mumbai,   with unheard level of lavishness in India.

'28% rise in sedition cases': Top global NGO alliance rates India's civil space 'repressed'

By Rajiv Shah Rating India's civic space as repressed , Civicus, a global civil society alliance, in its new report submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) on the state of civic space in the country has said that the use of sedition law against the Modi government’s critics continues. "Under the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sedition cases have increased by 28 per cent with over 500 cases against more than 7,000 people", it says.

'Anti-poor stand': Even British wouldn't reduce Railways' sleeper and general coaches

By Anandi Pandey, Sandeep Pandey*  Probably even the British, who introduced railways in India, would not have done what the Bhartiya Janata Party government is doing. The number of Sleeper and General class coaches in various trains are surreptitiously and ominously disappearing accompanied by a simultaneous increase in Air Conditioned coaches. In the characteristic style of BJP government there was no discussion or debate on this move by the Indian Railways either in the Parliament or outside of it. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

How embracing diversity enriched my life, brought profound sense of joy

By Mike Ghouse*  If you can shed the bias towards others, you'll love the connections with every human that God or his systems have created. This gives a sense of freedom and brings meaning and joy to life. Embracing and respecting how people dress, eat, and practice their beliefs becomes an enriching experience.

Banned Maoist party protests in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, claims support across globe

By Harsh Thakor*  Despite being a banned and designated as terrorist organisation under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act since 2009, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) is said to have successfully implemented a one-day bandh across Kolhan division in Jharkhand on July 10th, with repurcussions in the neighbouring Chhattisgarh. The bandh was called to protest against alleged police brutality in the Kolhan-Saranda region.

Post-poll mob lynching spree, bulldozer justice: NAPM seeks united resistance

Counterview Desk  Condemning what it calls "the horrific spree of mob lynchings across the country after the Lok Sabha election results", India's premier civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), has called for "united resistance" against "hateful communal politics, mob lynching of religious minorities and caste-based oppression".

Hindutva economics? 12% decline in manufacturing enterprises, 22.5% fall in employment

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The messiah of Hindutva politics, Narendra Modi, assumed office as the Prime Minister of India on May 26, 2014. He pledged to transform the Indian economy and deliver a developed nation with prosperous citizens. However, despite Modi's continued tenure as the Prime Minister, his ambitious electoral promises seem increasingly elusive.