NCERT Textbook: Food Security in India Notes | Study Economy and Indian Economy (Prelims) by Shahid Ali - Teaching

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42    Economics
Overview
• Food security means availability,
accessibility and affordability of food to
all people at all times. The poor
households are more vulnerable to food
insecurity whenever there is a problem
of production or distribution of food
crops. Food security depends on the
Public Distribution System (PDS) and
government vigilance and action at
times, when this security is threatened.
What is food security?
Food is as essential for living as air is for
breathing. But food security means
something more than getting two square
meals. Food security has following
dimensions
(a)availability of food means food
production within the country, food
imports and the previous years stock
stored in government granaries.
(b) accessibility means food is within reach
of every person.
(c) affordability implies that an individual
has enough money to buy sufficient,
safe and nutritious food to meet one's
dietary needs.
Thus, 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 on
access to food.
Why food security?
The poorest section of the society might
be food insecure most of the times while
persons above the poverty line might also
be food insecure when the country faces
Food Security in India Chapter
4
Food Security in India
a national disaster/calamity like
earthquake, drought, flood, tsunami,
widespread failure of crops causing
famine, etc. How is food security
affected during a calamity? Due to a
natural calamity, say drought, total
production of foodgrains decreases. It
creates a shortage of food in the affected
areas. Due to shortage of food, the prices
goes 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 a turn
of famine.
A Famine is characterised by wide
spread deaths due to starvation and
In the 1970s, food security was
understood as the “availability at all times
of adequate supply of basic foodstuffs”
(UN, 1975). Amartya Sen added a new
dimension to food security and
emphasised the “access” to food through
what he called ‘entitlements’ — a
combination of what one can produce,
exchange in the market alongwith state
or other socially provided supplies.
Accordingly, there has been a substantial
shift in the understanding of food security.
The 1995 World Food Summit declared,
“Food security at the individual,
household, regional, national and global
levels exists when all people, at all times,
have physical and economic access to
sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet
their dietary needs and food preferences
for an active and healthy life” (FAO, 1996,
p.3). The declaration further recognises
that “poverty eradication is essential to
improve access to food”.
4
2020-21
Page 2


42    Economics
Overview
• Food security means availability,
accessibility and affordability of food to
all people at all times. The poor
households are more vulnerable to food
insecurity whenever there is a problem
of production or distribution of food
crops. Food security depends on the
Public Distribution System (PDS) and
government vigilance and action at
times, when this security is threatened.
What is food security?
Food is as essential for living as air is for
breathing. But food security means
something more than getting two square
meals. Food security has following
dimensions
(a)availability of food means food
production within the country, food
imports and the previous years stock
stored in government granaries.
(b) accessibility means food is within reach
of every person.
(c) affordability implies that an individual
has enough money to buy sufficient,
safe and nutritious food to meet one's
dietary needs.
Thus, 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 on
access to food.
Why food security?
The poorest section of the society might
be food insecure most of the times while
persons above the poverty line might also
be food insecure when the country faces
Food Security in India Chapter
4
Food Security in India
a national disaster/calamity like
earthquake, drought, flood, tsunami,
widespread failure of crops causing
famine, etc. How is food security
affected during a calamity? Due to a
natural calamity, say drought, total
production of foodgrains decreases. It
creates a shortage of food in the affected
areas. Due to shortage of food, the prices
goes 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 a turn
of famine.
A Famine is characterised by wide
spread deaths due to starvation and
In the 1970s, food security was
understood as the “availability at all times
of adequate supply of basic foodstuffs”
(UN, 1975). Amartya Sen added a new
dimension to food security and
emphasised the “access” to food through
what he called ‘entitlements’ — a
combination of what one can produce,
exchange in the market alongwith state
or other socially provided supplies.
Accordingly, there has been a substantial
shift in the understanding of food security.
The 1995 World Food Summit declared,
“Food security at the individual,
household, regional, national and global
levels exists when all people, at all times,
have physical and economic access to
sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet
their dietary needs and food preferences
for an active and healthy life” (FAO, 1996,
p.3). The declaration further recognises
that “poverty eradication is essential to
improve access to food”.
4
2020-21
Food Security in India    43
Picture 4.2 During the Bengal Famine of
1943, a family leaves its village
in Chittagong district in Bengal.
Picture 4.1 Starvation victims arriving at a
relief centre, 1945.
  Let’s Discuss
1. Some people say that the Bengal famine happened because there was a shortage
of rice. Study the table and find out whether you agree with the statement?
2. Which year shows a drastic decline in food availability?
Do you know who were affected the
most by the famine? The agricultural
labourers, fishermen, transport
workers and other casual labourers
were affected the most by dramatically
increasing price of rice. They were the
ones who died in this famine.
Year Production Imports Exports Total Availability
(Lakh tonnes) (Lakh tonnes) (Lakh tonnes) (Lakh tonnes)
1938 85 – – 85
1939 79 04 – 83
1940 82 03 – 85
1941 68 02 – 70
1942 93 – 01 92
1943 76 03 – 79
Source: Sen, A.K, 1981 Page 61
Table 4.1: Production of Rice in the Province of Bengal
epidemics caused by forced use of
contaminated water or decaying food and
loss of body resistance due to weakening
from starvation.
The most devastating famine that
occurred in India was the FAMINE OF
BENGAL in 1943. This famine killed thirty
lakh people in the province of Bengal.
2020-21
Page 3


42    Economics
Overview
• Food security means availability,
accessibility and affordability of food to
all people at all times. The poor
households are more vulnerable to food
insecurity whenever there is a problem
of production or distribution of food
crops. Food security depends on the
Public Distribution System (PDS) and
government vigilance and action at
times, when this security is threatened.
What is food security?
Food is as essential for living as air is for
breathing. But food security means
something more than getting two square
meals. Food security has following
dimensions
(a)availability of food means food
production within the country, food
imports and the previous years stock
stored in government granaries.
(b) accessibility means food is within reach
of every person.
(c) affordability implies that an individual
has enough money to buy sufficient,
safe and nutritious food to meet one's
dietary needs.
Thus, 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 on
access to food.
Why food security?
The poorest section of the society might
be food insecure most of the times while
persons above the poverty line might also
be food insecure when the country faces
Food Security in India Chapter
4
Food Security in India
a national disaster/calamity like
earthquake, drought, flood, tsunami,
widespread failure of crops causing
famine, etc. How is food security
affected during a calamity? Due to a
natural calamity, say drought, total
production of foodgrains decreases. It
creates a shortage of food in the affected
areas. Due to shortage of food, the prices
goes 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 a turn
of famine.
A Famine is characterised by wide
spread deaths due to starvation and
In the 1970s, food security was
understood as the “availability at all times
of adequate supply of basic foodstuffs”
(UN, 1975). Amartya Sen added a new
dimension to food security and
emphasised the “access” to food through
what he called ‘entitlements’ — a
combination of what one can produce,
exchange in the market alongwith state
or other socially provided supplies.
Accordingly, there has been a substantial
shift in the understanding of food security.
The 1995 World Food Summit declared,
“Food security at the individual,
household, regional, national and global
levels exists when all people, at all times,
have physical and economic access to
sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet
their dietary needs and food preferences
for an active and healthy life” (FAO, 1996,
p.3). The declaration further recognises
that “poverty eradication is essential to
improve access to food”.
4
2020-21
Food Security in India    43
Picture 4.2 During the Bengal Famine of
1943, a family leaves its village
in Chittagong district in Bengal.
Picture 4.1 Starvation victims arriving at a
relief centre, 1945.
  Let’s Discuss
1. Some people say that the Bengal famine happened because there was a shortage
of rice. Study the table and find out whether you agree with the statement?
2. Which year shows a drastic decline in food availability?
Do you know who were affected the
most by the famine? The agricultural
labourers, fishermen, transport
workers and other casual labourers
were affected the most by dramatically
increasing price of rice. They were the
ones who died in this famine.
Year Production Imports Exports Total Availability
(Lakh tonnes) (Lakh tonnes) (Lakh tonnes) (Lakh tonnes)
1938 85 – – 85
1939 79 04 – 83
1940 82 03 – 85
1941 68 02 – 70
1942 93 – 01 92
1943 76 03 – 79
Source: Sen, A.K, 1981 Page 61
Table 4.1: Production of Rice in the Province of Bengal
epidemics caused by forced use of
contaminated water or decaying food and
loss of body resistance due to weakening
from starvation.
The most devastating famine that
occurred in India was the FAMINE OF
BENGAL in 1943. This famine killed thirty
lakh people in the province of Bengal.
2020-21
44    Economics
Nothing like the Bengal Famine has
happened in India again. But it is
disturbing to note that even today, there
are places like Kalahandi and Kashipur
in Orissa where famine-like conditions
have been existing for many years and
where some starvation deaths have also
been reported. Starvation deaths are also
reported in Baran district of Rajasthan,
Palamau district of Jharkhand and many
other remote areas during the recent
years. Therefore, food security is needed
in a country to ensure food at all times.
Who are food-insecure?
Although a large section of people suffer
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
  Suggested Activity
(a) What do you see in Picture 4.1?
(b) Which age group is seen in the first
picture?
(c) Can you say that the family shown in
the Picture 4.2 is a poor family? why?
(d) Can you imagine the source of
livelihood of the people, (shown in two
Pictures) before the occurrence of
famine? (In the context of a village)
(e) Find out what type of help is given to
the victims of a natural calamity at a
relief camp.
(f ) Have you ever helped such victims (in
the form of money, food, clothes,
medicines etc.)
PROJECT WORK: Gather more
information about famines in India.
Story of Ramu
Ramu works as a casual labourer
in agriculture in Raipur village. His
eldest son Somu who is 10 years old
also works as a pali to look after the
cattle of the Sarpanch of the village
Satpal Singh. Somu is employed for
the whole year by the Sarpanch and
is paid a sum of Rs 1,000 for this
work. Ramu has three more sons
and two daughters but they are too
young to work on the field. His wife
Sunhari is also (part time) working
as house cleaner for the livestock,
removing and managing cow dung.
She gets ½ litre milk and some
cooked food along with vegetables
for her daily work. Besides she also
works in the field along with her
husband in the busy season and
supplements his earnings.
Agriculture being a seasonal
activity employs Ramu only during
times of sowing, transplanting and
harvesting. He remains unemployed
for about 4 months during the
period of plant consolidation and
maturing in a year. He looks for
work in other activities. Some times
he gets employment in brick laying
or in construction activities in the
village. By all his efforts, Ramu is
able to earn enough either in cash
or kind for him to buy essentials for
two square meals for his family.
However, during the days when he
is unable to get some work, he and
his family really face difficulties and
sometimes his small kids have to
sleep without food. Milk and
vegetables are not a regular part of
meals in the family. Ramu is food
insecure during 4 months when he
remains unemployed because of the
seasonal nature of agriculture work.
engaged in seasonal activities and are paid
very low wages that just ensure bare
survival.
2020-21
Page 4


42    Economics
Overview
• Food security means availability,
accessibility and affordability of food to
all people at all times. The poor
households are more vulnerable to food
insecurity whenever there is a problem
of production or distribution of food
crops. Food security depends on the
Public Distribution System (PDS) and
government vigilance and action at
times, when this security is threatened.
What is food security?
Food is as essential for living as air is for
breathing. But food security means
something more than getting two square
meals. Food security has following
dimensions
(a)availability of food means food
production within the country, food
imports and the previous years stock
stored in government granaries.
(b) accessibility means food is within reach
of every person.
(c) affordability implies that an individual
has enough money to buy sufficient,
safe and nutritious food to meet one's
dietary needs.
Thus, 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 on
access to food.
Why food security?
The poorest section of the society might
be food insecure most of the times while
persons above the poverty line might also
be food insecure when the country faces
Food Security in India Chapter
4
Food Security in India
a national disaster/calamity like
earthquake, drought, flood, tsunami,
widespread failure of crops causing
famine, etc. How is food security
affected during a calamity? Due to a
natural calamity, say drought, total
production of foodgrains decreases. It
creates a shortage of food in the affected
areas. Due to shortage of food, the prices
goes 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 a turn
of famine.
A Famine is characterised by wide
spread deaths due to starvation and
In the 1970s, food security was
understood as the “availability at all times
of adequate supply of basic foodstuffs”
(UN, 1975). Amartya Sen added a new
dimension to food security and
emphasised the “access” to food through
what he called ‘entitlements’ — a
combination of what one can produce,
exchange in the market alongwith state
or other socially provided supplies.
Accordingly, there has been a substantial
shift in the understanding of food security.
The 1995 World Food Summit declared,
“Food security at the individual,
household, regional, national and global
levels exists when all people, at all times,
have physical and economic access to
sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet
their dietary needs and food preferences
for an active and healthy life” (FAO, 1996,
p.3). The declaration further recognises
that “poverty eradication is essential to
improve access to food”.
4
2020-21
Food Security in India    43
Picture 4.2 During the Bengal Famine of
1943, a family leaves its village
in Chittagong district in Bengal.
Picture 4.1 Starvation victims arriving at a
relief centre, 1945.
  Let’s Discuss
1. Some people say that the Bengal famine happened because there was a shortage
of rice. Study the table and find out whether you agree with the statement?
2. Which year shows a drastic decline in food availability?
Do you know who were affected the
most by the famine? The agricultural
labourers, fishermen, transport
workers and other casual labourers
were affected the most by dramatically
increasing price of rice. They were the
ones who died in this famine.
Year Production Imports Exports Total Availability
(Lakh tonnes) (Lakh tonnes) (Lakh tonnes) (Lakh tonnes)
1938 85 – – 85
1939 79 04 – 83
1940 82 03 – 85
1941 68 02 – 70
1942 93 – 01 92
1943 76 03 – 79
Source: Sen, A.K, 1981 Page 61
Table 4.1: Production of Rice in the Province of Bengal
epidemics caused by forced use of
contaminated water or decaying food and
loss of body resistance due to weakening
from starvation.
The most devastating famine that
occurred in India was the FAMINE OF
BENGAL in 1943. This famine killed thirty
lakh people in the province of Bengal.
2020-21
44    Economics
Nothing like the Bengal Famine has
happened in India again. But it is
disturbing to note that even today, there
are places like Kalahandi and Kashipur
in Orissa where famine-like conditions
have been existing for many years and
where some starvation deaths have also
been reported. Starvation deaths are also
reported in Baran district of Rajasthan,
Palamau district of Jharkhand and many
other remote areas during the recent
years. Therefore, food security is needed
in a country to ensure food at all times.
Who are food-insecure?
Although a large section of people suffer
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
  Suggested Activity
(a) What do you see in Picture 4.1?
(b) Which age group is seen in the first
picture?
(c) Can you say that the family shown in
the Picture 4.2 is a poor family? why?
(d) Can you imagine the source of
livelihood of the people, (shown in two
Pictures) before the occurrence of
famine? (In the context of a village)
(e) Find out what type of help is given to
the victims of a natural calamity at a
relief camp.
(f ) Have you ever helped such victims (in
the form of money, food, clothes,
medicines etc.)
PROJECT WORK: Gather more
information about famines in India.
Story of Ramu
Ramu works as a casual labourer
in agriculture in Raipur village. His
eldest son Somu who is 10 years old
also works as a pali to look after the
cattle of the Sarpanch of the village
Satpal Singh. Somu is employed for
the whole year by the Sarpanch and
is paid a sum of Rs 1,000 for this
work. Ramu has three more sons
and two daughters but they are too
young to work on the field. His wife
Sunhari is also (part time) working
as house cleaner for the livestock,
removing and managing cow dung.
She gets ½ litre milk and some
cooked food along with vegetables
for her daily work. Besides she also
works in the field along with her
husband in the busy season and
supplements his earnings.
Agriculture being a seasonal
activity employs Ramu only during
times of sowing, transplanting and
harvesting. He remains unemployed
for about 4 months during the
period of plant consolidation and
maturing in a year. He looks for
work in other activities. Some times
he gets employment in brick laying
or in construction activities in the
village. By all his efforts, Ramu is
able to earn enough either in cash
or kind for him to buy essentials for
two square meals for his family.
However, during the days when he
is unable to get some work, he and
his family really face difficulties and
sometimes his small kids have to
sleep without food. Milk and
vegetables are not a regular part of
meals in the family. Ramu is food
insecure during 4 months when he
remains unemployed because of the
seasonal nature of agriculture work.
engaged in seasonal activities and are paid
very low wages that just ensure bare
survival.
2020-21
Food Security in India    45
Let’s Discuss
• Does Ahmad have a regular income
from rickshaw-pulling?
• How does the yellow card help Ahmad
Story of Ahmad
Ahmad is a rickshaw puller in
Bangalore. He has shifted from
Jhumri Taliah along with his 3
brothers, 2 sisters and old parents.
He stays in a jhuggi. The survival of
all members of his family depends on
his daily earnings from pulling
rickshaw. However, he does not have
a secured employment and his
earnings fluctuate every day. During
some days he gets enough earning for
him to save some amount after buying
all his day-to-day necessities. On
other days, he barely earns enough
to buy his daily necessities. However,
fortunately, Ahmad has a yellow card,
which is PDS Card for below poverty
line people. With this card, Ahmad
gets sufficient quantity of wheat, rice,
sugar and kerosene oil for his daily
use. He gets these essentials at half
of the market price. He purchases his
monthly stock during a particular day
when the ration shop is opened for
below poverty people. In this way,
Ahmad is able to eke out his survival
with less than sufficient earnings for
his big family where he is the only
earning member.
Let’s Discuss
• Why is agriculture a seasonal activity?
• Why is Ramu unemployed for about
four months in a year?
• What does Ramu do when he is
unemployed?
• Who are supplementing income in
Ramu’s family?
• Why does Ramu face difficulty when
he is unable to have work?
• When is Ramu food insecure?
run his family even with small
earnings from rickshaw-pulling?
The social composition along with the
inability to buy food also plays a role in
food insecurity. The SCs, STs and some
sections of the OBCs (lower castes among
them) who have either poor land-base or
very low land productivity are prone to
food insecurity. The people affected by
natural disasters, who have to migrate to
other areas in search of work, are also
among the most food insecure people. A
high incidence of malnutrition prevails
among women. This is a matter of serious
concern as it puts even the unborn baby
at the risk of malnutrition. A large
proportion of pregnant and nursing
mothers and children under the age of 5
years constitute an important segment of
the food insecure population.
According to the National Health and
Family Survey (NHFS) 1998–99, the
number of such women and children is
approximately 11 crore.
The food insecure people are
disproportionately large in some regions
of the country, such as economically
backward states with high incidence of
poverty, tribal and remote areas, regions
more prone to natural disasters etc. In
fact, the states of Uttar Pradesh (eastern
and south-eastern parts), Bihar,
Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal,
Chattisgarh, parts of Madhya Pradesh and
Maharasthra account for largest number
of food insecure people in the country.
Hunger is another aspect indicating
food insecurity. Hunger is not just an
expression of poverty, it brings about
poverty. The attainment of food security
therefore involves eliminating current
hunger and reducing the risks of future
hunger. Hunger has chronic and seasonal
dimensions. Chronic hunger is a
consequence of diets persistently
inadequate in terms of quantity and/or
2020-21
Page 5


42    Economics
Overview
• Food security means availability,
accessibility and affordability of food to
all people at all times. The poor
households are more vulnerable to food
insecurity whenever there is a problem
of production or distribution of food
crops. Food security depends on the
Public Distribution System (PDS) and
government vigilance and action at
times, when this security is threatened.
What is food security?
Food is as essential for living as air is for
breathing. But food security means
something more than getting two square
meals. Food security has following
dimensions
(a)availability of food means food
production within the country, food
imports and the previous years stock
stored in government granaries.
(b) accessibility means food is within reach
of every person.
(c) affordability implies that an individual
has enough money to buy sufficient,
safe and nutritious food to meet one's
dietary needs.
Thus, 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 on
access to food.
Why food security?
The poorest section of the society might
be food insecure most of the times while
persons above the poverty line might also
be food insecure when the country faces
Food Security in India Chapter
4
Food Security in India
a national disaster/calamity like
earthquake, drought, flood, tsunami,
widespread failure of crops causing
famine, etc. How is food security
affected during a calamity? Due to a
natural calamity, say drought, total
production of foodgrains decreases. It
creates a shortage of food in the affected
areas. Due to shortage of food, the prices
goes 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 a turn
of famine.
A Famine is characterised by wide
spread deaths due to starvation and
In the 1970s, food security was
understood as the “availability at all times
of adequate supply of basic foodstuffs”
(UN, 1975). Amartya Sen added a new
dimension to food security and
emphasised the “access” to food through
what he called ‘entitlements’ — a
combination of what one can produce,
exchange in the market alongwith state
or other socially provided supplies.
Accordingly, there has been a substantial
shift in the understanding of food security.
The 1995 World Food Summit declared,
“Food security at the individual,
household, regional, national and global
levels exists when all people, at all times,
have physical and economic access to
sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet
their dietary needs and food preferences
for an active and healthy life” (FAO, 1996,
p.3). The declaration further recognises
that “poverty eradication is essential to
improve access to food”.
4
2020-21
Food Security in India    43
Picture 4.2 During the Bengal Famine of
1943, a family leaves its village
in Chittagong district in Bengal.
Picture 4.1 Starvation victims arriving at a
relief centre, 1945.
  Let’s Discuss
1. Some people say that the Bengal famine happened because there was a shortage
of rice. Study the table and find out whether you agree with the statement?
2. Which year shows a drastic decline in food availability?
Do you know who were affected the
most by the famine? The agricultural
labourers, fishermen, transport
workers and other casual labourers
were affected the most by dramatically
increasing price of rice. They were the
ones who died in this famine.
Year Production Imports Exports Total Availability
(Lakh tonnes) (Lakh tonnes) (Lakh tonnes) (Lakh tonnes)
1938 85 – – 85
1939 79 04 – 83
1940 82 03 – 85
1941 68 02 – 70
1942 93 – 01 92
1943 76 03 – 79
Source: Sen, A.K, 1981 Page 61
Table 4.1: Production of Rice in the Province of Bengal
epidemics caused by forced use of
contaminated water or decaying food and
loss of body resistance due to weakening
from starvation.
The most devastating famine that
occurred in India was the FAMINE OF
BENGAL in 1943. This famine killed thirty
lakh people in the province of Bengal.
2020-21
44    Economics
Nothing like the Bengal Famine has
happened in India again. But it is
disturbing to note that even today, there
are places like Kalahandi and Kashipur
in Orissa where famine-like conditions
have been existing for many years and
where some starvation deaths have also
been reported. Starvation deaths are also
reported in Baran district of Rajasthan,
Palamau district of Jharkhand and many
other remote areas during the recent
years. Therefore, food security is needed
in a country to ensure food at all times.
Who are food-insecure?
Although a large section of people suffer
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
  Suggested Activity
(a) What do you see in Picture 4.1?
(b) Which age group is seen in the first
picture?
(c) Can you say that the family shown in
the Picture 4.2 is a poor family? why?
(d) Can you imagine the source of
livelihood of the people, (shown in two
Pictures) before the occurrence of
famine? (In the context of a village)
(e) Find out what type of help is given to
the victims of a natural calamity at a
relief camp.
(f ) Have you ever helped such victims (in
the form of money, food, clothes,
medicines etc.)
PROJECT WORK: Gather more
information about famines in India.
Story of Ramu
Ramu works as a casual labourer
in agriculture in Raipur village. His
eldest son Somu who is 10 years old
also works as a pali to look after the
cattle of the Sarpanch of the village
Satpal Singh. Somu is employed for
the whole year by the Sarpanch and
is paid a sum of Rs 1,000 for this
work. Ramu has three more sons
and two daughters but they are too
young to work on the field. His wife
Sunhari is also (part time) working
as house cleaner for the livestock,
removing and managing cow dung.
She gets ½ litre milk and some
cooked food along with vegetables
for her daily work. Besides she also
works in the field along with her
husband in the busy season and
supplements his earnings.
Agriculture being a seasonal
activity employs Ramu only during
times of sowing, transplanting and
harvesting. He remains unemployed
for about 4 months during the
period of plant consolidation and
maturing in a year. He looks for
work in other activities. Some times
he gets employment in brick laying
or in construction activities in the
village. By all his efforts, Ramu is
able to earn enough either in cash
or kind for him to buy essentials for
two square meals for his family.
However, during the days when he
is unable to get some work, he and
his family really face difficulties and
sometimes his small kids have to
sleep without food. Milk and
vegetables are not a regular part of
meals in the family. Ramu is food
insecure during 4 months when he
remains unemployed because of the
seasonal nature of agriculture work.
engaged in seasonal activities and are paid
very low wages that just ensure bare
survival.
2020-21
Food Security in India    45
Let’s Discuss
• Does Ahmad have a regular income
from rickshaw-pulling?
• How does the yellow card help Ahmad
Story of Ahmad
Ahmad is a rickshaw puller in
Bangalore. He has shifted from
Jhumri Taliah along with his 3
brothers, 2 sisters and old parents.
He stays in a jhuggi. The survival of
all members of his family depends on
his daily earnings from pulling
rickshaw. However, he does not have
a secured employment and his
earnings fluctuate every day. During
some days he gets enough earning for
him to save some amount after buying
all his day-to-day necessities. On
other days, he barely earns enough
to buy his daily necessities. However,
fortunately, Ahmad has a yellow card,
which is PDS Card for below poverty
line people. With this card, Ahmad
gets sufficient quantity of wheat, rice,
sugar and kerosene oil for his daily
use. He gets these essentials at half
of the market price. He purchases his
monthly stock during a particular day
when the ration shop is opened for
below poverty people. In this way,
Ahmad is able to eke out his survival
with less than sufficient earnings for
his big family where he is the only
earning member.
Let’s Discuss
• Why is agriculture a seasonal activity?
• Why is Ramu unemployed for about
four months in a year?
• What does Ramu do when he is
unemployed?
• Who are supplementing income in
Ramu’s family?
• Why does Ramu face difficulty when
he is unable to have work?
• When is Ramu food insecure?
run his family even with small
earnings from rickshaw-pulling?
The social composition along with the
inability to buy food also plays a role in
food insecurity. The SCs, STs and some
sections of the OBCs (lower castes among
them) who have either poor land-base or
very low land productivity are prone to
food insecurity. The people affected by
natural disasters, who have to migrate to
other areas in search of work, are also
among the most food insecure people. A
high incidence of malnutrition prevails
among women. This is a matter of serious
concern as it puts even the unborn baby
at the risk of malnutrition. A large
proportion of pregnant and nursing
mothers and children under the age of 5
years constitute an important segment of
the food insecure population.
According to the National Health and
Family Survey (NHFS) 1998–99, the
number of such women and children is
approximately 11 crore.
The food insecure people are
disproportionately large in some regions
of the country, such as economically
backward states with high incidence of
poverty, tribal and remote areas, regions
more prone to natural disasters etc. In
fact, the states of Uttar Pradesh (eastern
and south-eastern parts), Bihar,
Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal,
Chattisgarh, parts of Madhya Pradesh and
Maharasthra account for largest number
of food insecure people in the country.
Hunger is another aspect indicating
food insecurity. Hunger is not just an
expression of poverty, it brings about
poverty. The attainment of food security
therefore involves eliminating current
hunger and reducing the risks of future
hunger. Hunger has chronic and seasonal
dimensions. Chronic hunger is a
consequence of diets persistently
inadequate in terms of quantity and/or
2020-21
46    Economics
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.
The percentage of seasonal, as well as,
chronic hunger has declined in India as
shown in the above table.
India is aiming at Self-sufficiency in
Foodgrains since Independence.
After Independence, Indian policy-
makers adopted all measures to achieve
self-sufficiency in food grains. India
adopted a new strategy in agriculture,
which resulted in ‘Green Revolution’,
especially in the production of wheat
and rice.
Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister
of India, officially recorded the impressive
strides of Green Revolution in agriculture
by releasing a special stamp entitled
‘Wheat Revolution’ in July 1968. The
Table 4.2:  Percentage of Households with
‘Hunger’ in India
Type of hunger
Year Seasonal Chronic Total
Rural
1983 16.2 2.3 18.5
1993–94 4.2 0.9 5.1
1999–2000 2.6 0.7 3.3
Urban
1983 5.6 0.8 6.4
1993–94 1.1 0.5 1.6
1999–2000 0.6 0.3 0.9
Source: Sagar (2004)
success of wheat was later replicated in
rice. The increase in foodgrains was,
however , disproportionate. The highest rate
of growth was achieved in Uttar Pradesh
and Madhya Pradesh, which was 44.01 and
30.21 million tonnes in 2015–16. The total
foodgrain production was 252.22 Million
tonnes in 2015–16 and it has changed to
275.68 million tonnes in 2016–17.
Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh
recorded a significant production in field
of wheat which was 26.87 and 17.69
million tonnes in 2015–16, respectively.
West Bengal and UP , on the other hand,
recorded significant production of rice 15.75
and 12.51 Million tonnes  in 2015–16
respectively.
Suggested Activity
Visit some farms in a nearby village and
collect the details of food crops cultivated
by the farmers.
Food Security in India
Since the advent of the Green Revolution
in the early-1970s, the country has
avoided famine even during adverse
weather conditions.
India has become self-sufficient in
foodgrains during the last 30 years
because of a variety of crops grown all
over the country. The availability of
foodgrains (even in adverse weather
conditions or otherwise) at the country
Picture 4.3  A farmer from Punjab standing in
a field of one of the High Yielding
Varieties of wheat on which the
Green Revolution is based
2020-21
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