Food security in India

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Table of Contents

Answer the following question:

Q.No. 1) What is food security?

Answer –

Food security means availability, accessibility, and affordability of food to all people at all times, where –

  • availability of food means food production within the country, food imports, and the previous years’ stock stored in government granaries.
  • accessibility means food is within reach of every person.
  • affordability implies that an individual has enough money to buy sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet one’s dietary needs.

Q.No. 2) When can we say that food security in a country is ensured?

Answer –

Food security is ensured in a country only if –

  1. enough food is available for all the persons
  2. all persons have the capacity to buy food of acceptable quality and
  3. there is no barrier to access to food.

Q.No. 3) What is the need for food security?

Answer –

To provide food to the poorest section of the society as they are food insecure most of the time while persons above the poverty line might also be food insecure when the country faces a national disaster or calamity like earthquake, drought, flood, tsunami, widespread failure of crops causing famine, etc.

So to provide food to persons below the poverty line and be prepared to cope with any natural disaster, the food security is needed.

Q.No. 4) How is food security affected during a natural calamity?

Answer –

Due to a natural calamity, say drought, the total production of food grains decreases. It creates a shortage of food in the affected areas. Due to the shortage of food, the prices go up. At the high prices, some people cannot afford to buy food. If such calamity happens in a very wide spread area or is stretched over a longer time period, it may cause a situation of starvation. A massive starvation might take turn into famine.

Q.No. 5) What is famine?

Or,

When does the situation of famine develop?

Answer –

A Famine is characterised by widespread deaths due to starvation and epidemics caused by the forced use of contaminated water or decaying food and loss of body resistance due to weakening from starvation.

Q.No. 6) Who are food insecure?

Answer –

Although a large section of people suffers from food and nutrition insecurity in India, the worst affected groups are landless people with little or no land to depend upon, traditional artisans, providers of traditional services, petty self-employed workers, and destitutes including beggars.

In the urban areas, the food insecure families are those whose working members are generally employed in ill-paid occupations and casual labour market. These workers are largely engaged in seasonal activities and are paid very low wages that just ensure bare survival.

Q.No. 7) What is chronic and seasonal hunger?

Answer –

Chronic hunger is a consequence of diets persistently inadequate in terms of quantity and/or quality. Poor people suffer from chronic hunger because of their very low income and in turn inability to buy food even for survival.

Seasonal hunger is related to cycles of food growing and harvesting. This is prevalent in rural areas because of the seasonal nature of agricultural activities and in urban areas because of casual labourers, e.g., there is less work for casual construction labourers during the rainy season. This type of hunger exists when a person is unable to get work for the entire year.

Q.No. 8) What are the two main components of the food security system in India?

Answer –

The two main components of the food security system in India are –

(a) buffer stock

(b) public distribution system.

Q.No. 9) What is buffer stock?

Answer –

Buffer Stock is the stock of foodgrains, namely wheat and rice, procured by the government through the Food Corporation of India (FCI).

Q.No. 10) What is MSP?

Answer –

The Minimum Support Price (MSP) is a preannounced price for the crops (like wheat, rice, etc.) declared by the government every year before the sowing season to provide incentives to farmers for raising the production of these crops. This price is called Minimum Support Price (MSP).

Q.No. 11) Why the buffer stock is created by the government?

Answer –

The purposes for which buffer stock is created by the government are –

  1. to distribute food grains in the deficit areas and among the poorer strata of the society at a price lower than the market price also known as Issue Price.
  2. this also helps resolve the problem of shortage of food during adverse weather conditions or during the periods of calamity.

Q.No. 12) What is the issue price?

Answer –

To distribute foodgrains in the deficit areas and among the poorer strata of the society, the foodgrains are sold at a price lower than the market price in the ration shop. This price is known as Issue Price.

Q.No. 13) What is the Public Distribution System?

Answer –

The Public Distribution System (PDS) is the arrangement by which the government of India distributes the food procured by the FCI through government-regulated ration shops among the poorer section of the society.

Q.No. 14) What are Fair Price Shops?

Answer –

Ration shops also, known as Fair Price Shops are the shops through which the government of India distributes the food procured by the FCI among the poorer section of the society.

Fair Price Shops, keep stock of foodgrains, sugar, and kerosene for cooking. These items are sold to people at a price lower than the market price.

Q.No. 15) What are the types of ration cards?

Answer –

There are three kinds of ration cards:

  1.   Antyodaya cards for the poorest of the poor
  2.   BPL cards for those below the poverty line
  3.   APL cards for all others.

Q.No. 16) What steps were taken by the government of India to reduce the high incidence of poverty levels, as reported by the NSSO in the mid-1970s?

Answer –

The Government of India introduced three important food intervention programmes.

They were –

  1. Strengthening the existing Public Distribution System (PDS) for food grains
  2. Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) (introduced in 1975 on an experimental basis)
  3. and Food-for-Work (introduced in 1977–78).

Q.No. 17) What is the importance of the National Food Security Act, 2013?

Answer –

This Act provides for food and nutritional security life at affordable prices and enables people to live a life with dignity. Under this act, 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population have been categorised as eligible households for food security.

Q.No. 18) How the policy related to Public Distribution System (PDS) made more efficient and targeted?

Answer –

  • In the beginning, the coverage of PDS was universal with no discrimination between the poor and the non-poor.
  • In 1992, Revamped Public Distribution System (RPDS) was introduced in 1,700 blocks in the country. The target was to provide the benefits of PDS to remote and backward areas.
  • From June 1997, in a renewed attempt, Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) was introduced to adopt the principle of targeting the ‘poor in all areas’. It was for the first time that a differential price policy was adopted for the poor and non-poor.
  • Further, in 2000, two special schemes were launched viz., Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and Annapurna Scheme (APS) with special target groups of ‘poorest of the poor’ and ‘indigent senior citizens’, respectively. The functioning of these two schemes was linked with the existing network of the PDS.

Q.No. 19) Why the Public Distribution System has to face criticism?

Answer –

The reasons for which the Public Distribution System has to face criticism have to face on several grounds. Like –

  • Instances of hunger are prevalent despite overflowing granaries.
  • FCI godowns are overflowing with grains, with some rotting away and some being eaten by rats.
  • the difference in foodgrain stocks in Central pool and its stocking norms.

Q.No. 20) Write a short note on Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY).

Answer –

Some of the features of AAY –

  • AAY was launched in December 2000.
  • Under this scheme, one crore of the poorest among the BPL families covered under the targeted public distribution system were identified.
  • Poor families were identified by the respective state rural development departments through a Below Poverty Line (BPL) survey.
  • Twenty-five kilograms of foodgrains were made available to each eligible family at a highly subsidised rate of Rs. 2 per kg for wheat and `Rs. 3 per kg for rice.
  • This quantity has been enhanced from 25 to 35 kg with effect from April 2002.

Q.No. 21) What is a subsidy?

Answer –

Subsidy is a payment that a government makes to a producer to supplement the market price of a commodity. Subsidies can keep consumer prices low while maintaining a higher income for domestic producers.

Q.No. 22) ‘High level of buffer stocks of foodgrains is very undesirable and can be wasteful.’ Explain why?

Answer –

High level of buffer stock responsible for –

  • high carrying costs
  • more wastage of food
  • deterioration in grain quality.

Q.No. 23) What are the disadvantages of increased MSP?

Answer –

Problems that arise due to the increase in MSP are the followings –

  • It induced farmers, particularly in surplus states, to divert land from the production of coarse grains, which is the staple food of the poor, to the production of rice and wheat.
  • The intensive utilisation of water in the cultivation of rice has also led to environmental degradation,
  • fall in the water level,
  • threatening the sustainability of agricultural development in these states.

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