Why in news?
- Over 10 crore people have been excluded from the Public Distribution System because outdated 2011 census data is being used to calculate State-wise National Food Security Act coverage.
- The disastrous impact of this gap is being seen in the midst of a crippling lockdown, as people who have lost their livelihoods depend on PDS for daily survival.
- Under the NFSA, the PDS is supposed to cover 75% of the population in rural areas and 50% of the population in urban areas, which works out to 67% of the total population, using the rural-urban population ratio in 2011. India’s population was about 121 crores in 2011 and so PDS covered approximately 80 crore people. However, applying the 67% ratio to a projected population of 137 crore for 2020, PDS coverage today should be around 92 crores.
- Even taking into account growing urbanisation, the shortfall would be around 10 crore people who have slipped through the cracks.
- The National Food Security Act, 2013 (also Right to Food Act) 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 on 12 September 2013, retroactive to 5 July 2013.
- The National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA 2013) converts into legal entitlements for existing food security programmes of the Government of India.
- It includes the Midday Meal Scheme, Integrated Child Development Services scheme and the Public Distribution System. Further, the NFSA 2013 recognizes maternity entitlements.
- The Midday Meal Scheme and the Integrated Child Development Services Scheme are universal in nature whereas the PDS will reach about two-thirds of the population (75% in rural areas and 50% in urban areas).
- Pregnant women, lactating mothers, and certain categories of children are eligible for daily free cereals.