Barathkumar K M, III year of B.B.A.,LL.B.(Hons.)
India is a developing country; many industries have been developed during recent years. But the major defect in our society is that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Still, many children are dying every day due to lack of food. Even though we got independence 73 years ago, there is no good development among the nutrition of Indian children. A report says that India is the largest undernourished population in the world with 190 million people (14% of our population) going home hungry every day, 20% of children under 5 are underweight, 51.4% of women between 15 and 49 years are anaemic. In the Global Hunger Index, 2019 India placed 102 out of 117 countries[i].
Legal provisions in Constitution to control starvation
In Chameli Singh vs. State of Uttar Pradesh[ii], the Supreme Court held that the right to have food is the fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. According to Article 39 (a) of the Indian Constitution, the state has to direct its policy towards achieving adequate means of livelihood for all citizens. The state has to raise the nutrition level of the people under Article 47 of the Indian Constitution.
The National Food Security Act
To provide food and nutritional security to everyone, the Government of India has enacted the National Food Security Act. This act makes sure that people get their Right to Food. But this act is implemented all over the country. Section 28 of the National Food Security Act mandates the state government to implement this act in their state. But still, some states have failed to implement this act. Chapter VIII and Chapter IX of the National Food Security Act asked the Central and the State Government to make sure the food security among the people. But it does not lay down any penalties for violation of fulfilling such obligations by the State and Central Government.
Salient features of the act
1. Targeted Public Distribution System
The Targeted Public Distribution System covers 50% of the urban population and 75% of the rural population. Under this system, people can get 5 kg of food grain per person per month. Under Antyodaya Anna Yojana, the poorest people will get 35 kg of food grain per person per month. Under this system, the food grain will be available at subsidized prices. The price of 1 kg of rice is Rs. 1, wheat is Rs. 2 and coarse grain is Rs. 3.
2. Nutritional Support to women and children
Under Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and Mid-Day Meal (MDM), the children between the age group of 6 and 14 years, pregnant women and lactating mothers will be entitled to get the meals.
3. Maternity Benefit
Pregnant women and lactating mothers are entitled to get the maternity benefit of Rs. 6,000.
4. Transparency and Accountability
This act ensures transparency and accountability by disclosing their records
5. Food security allowance
The food security allowance is available for the non-supply of entitled foodgrains or meals.
The penalty will be imposed by the State Food Commission to the authorities who fail to comply with the relief recommended by the District Grievance Redressal Officer.
It was estimated that every year, one-third of the food protection in the world is getting wasted. 40% of the fruits and vegetables and 30% of cereals are getting wasted. The lack of transportation is a major issue for food waste. At harvest and during post-harvest handling, a lot of food is getting wasted due to lack of transport. Some of the food is wasted on the shelves and in the warehouse due to excess production and labelling errors.
Even though we got independence 73 years ago, still now thousands of people have died of hunger so far. Still, many people are wasting their food, they don’t get any awareness of starvation. The National Food Security Act is the landmark act but it was not followed properly. It was said that the maternity benefits to pregnant women are not given properly, some of the pregnant women are getting only Rs. 4000. The steps to monitor the Public Distribution System is not effective, it was estimated that around 40% to 50% of the food grains is wasted while transport. Only rice, wheat and dals are provided under this act. Pulses and cereals have more nutrition than rice and wheat. It was suggested that the pulses and cereals should also be provided. Awareness should be created among the people to stop the wastage of food.
[ii] (1996) 2 SCC 549