Food poverty, characterized by insufficient income or expenditures to consistently afford a nutritionally adequate food basket, is a critical concern affecting numerous individuals in India.
Situation of Food Poverty in India:
Approximately 195 million undernourished individuals reside in India, accounting for a significant portion of the global hunger burden (UN-India).
Constitutional commitment: Article 47 of the Indian Constitution obliges the State to elevate nutrition levels, living standards, and public health.
Government Measures to Address Food Poverty:
- National Food Security Act: Aims to provide subsidized food grains to a large number of vulnerable individuals.
- Mid-day Meal Programme: Offers daily meals to school-going children to enhance their nutritional intake.
- Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS): Focuses on improving the health and nutrition status of pregnant women, lactating mothers, and children under 6.
- Kishori Shakti Yojana: Empowers adolescent girls through nutrition and health education.
- Nutrition Programme for Adolescent Girls: Enhances the nutritional status of adolescent girls through education and supplementary nutrition.
- Pradhan Mantri Gramodaya Yojana: Concentrates on enhancing basic amenities in rural areas, including nutrition.
- Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY): Targets the poorest families by providing food grains at subsidized rates.
- Hidden Hunger: Nutritional security is inadequately addressed by current programs.
- Public Distribution Mechanisms (PDS): Uneven food distribution and subpar quality of grains.
- Quality Issues: Low-grade grains and substandard service at PDS outlets.
- Inefficient Implementation: Poor execution of government schemes.
- Lack of Coordination: Absence of coherent food and nutrition policies among relevant ministries.
- Enhancing Agricultural Productivity: Strengthening farming methods and storage facilities.
- Ensuring Food Accessibility: Providing accessible food options for below poverty line (BPL) individuals.
- Transparent PDS: Making the Public Distribution System more reliable and transparent.
- Boosting Purchasing Power: Introducing employment-oriented initiatives like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).
- Promoting Diversification: Encouraging crop diversity and establishing food grain banks.
- Community Awareness: Utilizing Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) activities for public awareness.
- Monitoring and Evaluation: Regularly assessing and evaluating nutritional programs.
India must adopt a comprehensive approach that addresses a range of issues, including inequality, food diversity, indigenous rights, and environmental justice, to establish sustainable food security for its population. By combining these efforts, the country can effectively combat food poverty and create a more nourished and prosperous society.