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National Food Security Bill

The National Food Security Bill, 2013 is an Act of the Parliament of India which aims to provide subsidized food grains to approximately two-thirds of India’s 1.2 billion people. It was signed into law September 12, 2013, retroactive to July 5, 2013.

The bill has been highly controversial. It was introduced into India’s parliament in December 2012, promulgated as a presidential ordinance on July 5, 2013, and enacted into law in August 2013.

Read Also: National Food Security Bill Cleared By Cabinet Via Ordinance

The National Food Security Bill, which states, “Food security means availability of sufficient food grains to meet the domestic demand as well as access, at the individual level, to adequate quantities of food at affordable prices.

The proposed legislation marks a paradigm shift in addressing the problem of food security – from the current welfare approach to a right based approach. About two-thirds of the population will be entitled to receive subsidized food grains under Targeted Public Distribution System.

The National Food Security Bill has four schedules. Schedule I prescribe issue prices for the PDS. Schedule II prescribes “nutritional standards” for midday meals, take-home rations, and related entitlements. Schedule III lists various “provisions for advancing food security”. Schedule IV specifies a minimum food grain allocation for each state; in the case of states that might lose otherwise under the Act, this essentially means a continuing of existing allocations.

For children in the age group of 6 months to 6 years: an age-appropriate meal, free of charge, through the local Anganwadi. For children aged 6-14 years, one free mid-day meal every day (except on school holidays) in all government and government-aided schools, up to Class VIII.

Must Read: National Food Security Act: Work in Progress

The identification of eligible households is left to state governments, subject to the scheme’s guidelines for Antyodaya, and subject to guidelines to be “specified” by the state government for Priority households. The identification of eligible households is to be completed within 365 days. The lists of eligible households are to be placed in the public domain and “displayed prominently”.

The Bill provides for a two-tier grievance redressal structure, involving the District Grievance Redressal Officer (DGRO) and State Food Commission. State governments must also put in place an internal grievance redressal mechanism which may include call centers, helplines, etc.

The Bill provides for the creation of State Food Commissions. The main function of the State Commission is to monitor the implementation of the Act, give advice to the states governments and their agencies, and inquire into violations of entitlements. State Commissions also have to hear appeals against orders of the District Grievance Redressal Officer and prepare annual reports.

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