Page No. 53
Ques 1: How is food security ensured in India?
Ans: Food security is ensured in a country when the three dimensions of food security are taken care of. The three dimensions are:
Availability of food − Presence of enough food for all the persons
Accessibility of food − Absence of barrier on access to food
Affordability of food − Capability of all persons to buy food of acceptable quality
Food security has been ensured in India because of the following factors.
(i) Self-sufficiency of food grains − India has become self-sufficient in food grains (as was its aim since Independence) during the last thirty years. This has been because of a variety of crops grown all over the country.
(ii) Food-security system − The availability of food grains has been ensured by the government with the help of a carefully designed food-security system. This system involves the maintenance of a buffer stock of food grains and the distribution of this food among the poorer sections of the society with the help of a public distribution system.
(iii) Implementation of several poverty-alleviation programmes having an explicit food security component − Apart from the distribution of food through fair-price shops, the government has come up with several poverty-alleviation programmes that enhance food security; for example, mid-day meals and food-for-work.
(iv) Involvement of cooperatives and NGOs − In addition to the role of the government in ensuring food security, various cooperatives and NGOs are also working intensively towards this direction. Mother Dairy and Amul are two examples of cooperatives involved in ensuring food security.
Ques 2: Which are the people more prone to food insecurity?
Ans: A large section of people suffer from food and nutrition insecurity in India. However, the worst affected groups are as follows:
(i) Landless and land-poor households, traditional artisans, providers of traditional services, petty self-employed workers and destitute including beggars (in the rural areas)
(ii) People employed in ill-paid occupations and casual labourers engaged in seasonal activities (in the urban areas)
(iii) People belonging to the backward sections of society, namely SCs, STs and OBCs
(iv) People belonging to economically-backwards states with high incidence of poverty, tribal and remote areas and regions more prone to natural disasters
(v) People affected by natural disasters who have to migrate to other areas in search of work
(vi) Large proportion of pregnant and nursing mothers, and children under the age of 5 years
Ques 3: Which states are more food insecure in India?
Ans: The economically-backwards states with a high incidence of poverty are more food insecure in India. The states of Uttar Pradesh (eastern and south-eastern parts), Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal, Chattisgarh, parts of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra account for the largest number of food insecure people in the country.
Ques 4: Do you believe that Green Revolution has made India self-sufficient in food grains? How?
Ans: In the late 1960s, the Green Revolution introduced the Indian farmer to the cultivation of high-yielding varieties (HYVs) of seeds. The HYVs (coupled with chemical fertilisers and pesticides) led to a growth in the productivity of food grains (especially wheat and rice), thereby helping India attain self-sufficiency in food grains. Since the advent of the Green Revolution, the country has avoided famine even during adverse weather conditions.
Ques 5: “A section of people in India are still without food”. Explain.
Ans: Despite achieving self-sufficiency in food grains, as a result of Green Revolution, a section of people in India are still without food because of poverty. Thus, the landless labourers, casual urban workers, SCs and STs who are below the poverty line find it impossible to get two square meals a day. The Public Distribution System is not functioning properly because the ration shops owners are diverting the grains to the open market. Low quality grains are available at ration shops which often remain unsold. Corruption in the Public Distribution System and extreme poverty are the two basic reasons of why some people are still without food in India.
Ques 6: What happens to the supply of food when there is a disaster or a calamity?
Ans: When there is a disaster or a calamity, the production of food grains decreases in the affected area. This in turn creates a shortage of food in the area. Due to the food shortage, the prices go up. The raised prices of food materials affect the capacity of many people to buy the same. When the calamity occurs in a very wide spread area or is stretched over a long period of time, it may cause a situation of starvation. A massive starvation can take the form of famine.
Ques 7: Differentiate between seasonal hunger and chronic hunger.
Ans: 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 the casual labour (e.g., there is less work for casual construction labour during the rainy season). This type of hunger exists when a person is unable to get work for the entire year. Chronic hunger is a consequence of diets persistently inadequate in terms of quantity or quality. Poor people suffer from chronic hunger because of their very low income and in turn, inability to buy food even for survival.
Ques 8: What has our government done to provide food security to the poor? Discuss any two schemes launched by the government?
Ans: The two schemes launched by government are:
(i) Public Distribution System: It is a system that distributes subsidised basic commodities to poor households through fair price shops nationwide.
(ii) Antyodaya Anna Yojana: 1 crore of the poorest among those who are below the poverty line families are covered under the targeted public distribution system. 35kg of food grains were made available to each eligible family at a highly subsidised rate.
Ques 9: Why is a buffer stock created by the government?
Ans: A buffer stock of food grains is created by the government so as to distribute the procured food grains in the food-deficit areas and among the poorer strata of society at a price lower than the market price. A buffer stock helps resolve the problem of shortage of food during adverse weather conditions or during periods of calamity.
Ques 10: Write notes on:
(a) Minimum support price
(b) Buffer stock
(c) Issue price
(d) Fair-price shops
Ans: (a) Minimum support price − It is the pre-announced price at which the government purchases food grains from the farmers in order to create a buffer stock. The minimum support price is declared by the government every year before the growing season. This provides incentives to the farmers for raising the production of the crops.
The rising minimum support prices of rice and wheat have induced farmers to divert land from the production of coarse grains—the staple food of the poor—to the production of these crops. The rising minimum support prices have raised the maintenance cost of procuring food grains.
(b) Buffer stock − It is the stock of food grains (usually wheat and rice) procured by the government through the Food Corporation of India. The purchased food grains are stored in granaries.
A buffer stock of food grains is created by the government so as to distribute the procured food grains in the food-deficit areas and among the poorer strata of society at a price lower than the market price. A buffer stock helps resolve the problem of shortage of food during adverse weather conditions or during periods of calamity.
(c) Issue Price − The food grains procured and stored by the government are distributed in food-deficit areas and among the poorer strata of society at a price lower than the market price. This price is known as issue price.
(d) Fair-price shops − The food procured by the Food Corporation of India is distributed through government-regulated ration shops. The prices at which food materials are sold at these ration shops are lower than the market prices. The low pricing is to benefit the poorer strata of society. This is why these shops are called fair-price shops.
Fair-price shops keep stock of food grains, sugar and kerosene oil. Any family with a ration card can buy a stipulated amount of these items every month from the nearby ration shop.
Ques 11: What are the problems of the functioning of ration shops?
Ans: The public distribution system (PDS) is the most important step taken by the Indian government towards ensuring food security. However, there have been several problems related to the functioning of ration shops. The food grains supplied by the ration shops are not enough to meet the consumption needs of the poor. As a result, they have to depend on markets instead. The average all-India level of consumption of PDS grains is only 1 kg per person per month. Most public-distribution-system dealers resort to malpractices like diverting food grains to open market to make profits, selling poor quality grains at ration shops, irregular opening of the shops, etc. Such actions make safe and nutritious food inaccessible and unaffordable for many of the poor.
Under the targeted public distribution system, there are three kinds of ration cards: Antyodaya cards (for the poorest of the poor), BPL cards (for those below poverty line) and APL cards (for all others). Prices of the food materials are fixed accordingly. Under this system, any family above the poverty line gets very little discount at the ration shop. The price of food items for an APL family is almost as high as in the open market, so there is little incentive for them to buy the items from the ration shop.
Ques 12: Write a note on the role of cooperatives in providing food and related items.
Ans: Along with the government, cooperatives are also playing an important role in ensuring food security in India, especially in the southern and western parts of the country. The cooperative societies set up shops to sell low-priced goods to the poor. Out of all fair-price shops running in Tamil Nadu, around 94 per cent are being run by cooperatives. Mother Dairy, in Delhi, is involved in providing milk and vegetables at controlled rates decided by the government. Amul, responsible for the White Revolution in India, is a cooperative involved in providing milk and milk products. The Academy of Development Science (ADS) in Maharashtra has been involved in the setting up of Grain Banks in different regions. It organises training and capacity-building programmes on food security for NGOs. Its efforts are also directed towards influencing the government’s policy on food security. Thus, through these examples, it can be seen that cooperative are playing an active role in the distribution of food and related items.