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What are the salient features of the National Food Security Act, 2013? How has the Food Security Bill helped in eliminating hunger and malnutrition in India? (UPSC GS3 Mains)

The National Food Security Act, 2013 aims to provide subsidized food grains to approximately two-third of the country’s population. The enactment of this landmark legislation, brought a paradigm shift in approach to food security, from welfare to rights-based approach.
The salient features of the act are as: 

  • Coverage and entitlement: Up to 75% of rural and 50% of the urban population will be covered under TPDS, with uniform entitlement of 5kg/person/month ration. 
  • Identification of households: The work of identification of eligible households is to be done by States/UTS. 
  • Maternity benefit: Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers (PWLM) are entitled to receive maternity benefits of not less than 6000 rupees. 
  • Nutritional support: PWLM and children in the age group of 6 months to 14 years will be entitled to meals as per prescribed nutritional norms under ICDS, MDM (PM-Poshan). 
  • Women empowerment: Eldest women of the household of age 18 years or above to be deemed as head of the household for the purpose of issuing ration cards. 
  • Grievance Redressal: Act calls for dedicated mechanism for grievance redressal at district and state level. 
  • Transparency/Accountability: Provisions regarding social audits, setting up of vigilance committees, disclosure of PDS records etc. 
  • Food security allowance: It is entitled to the beneficiaries in case of non-supply of entitled food grains or meals.

Role of NFSA in eliminating hunger and malnutrition:

  • According to a UN report number of undernourished people in India has declined by 60 million between 2006 to 2019. 
  • Improved access to food grains have improved the hunger outcomes amongst the poor and underprivileged. 
  • Wide coverage of the 2/3rd population have increased resilience in the poor against income shocks. 
  • Stunting in children under 5 years of age, according to the UN report have decreased from 47.8% in 2012 to 34.7% in 2019. 
  • Monetary compensation has compensated against wage loss during pregnancy. PWLM can now access to healthier food options like fruits, vegetables etc. 
  • The awareness generated by the Asha workers have increased the number of infants who were exclusively breastfed from 11.2 million in 2012 to 13.9 million in 2019.

However, there is still a long way for India to reach nutritional sufficiency as:

  • Number of women in reproductive age suffering from anaemia grew from 165.6million in 2012 to 175.6 million in 2019. 
  • The CNNS have highlighted prevalence of hunger/malnutrition in India children. 
  • The number of obese adults in India grew from 25.2 million in 2012 to 34.3 million in 2016. 
  • Institutional infrastructure for delivering the provisions of the food bill is poor. 
  • Widespread corruption has siphoned off the benefits to ghost beneficiaries and middlemen. 
  • The food bill has revolutionized the access to food grains; however, the need is to move towards nutritional security and not just food security. Further the structural bottlenecks in the implementation food bill should be corrected by leverage of technology.

Topics Covered - National Food Security Act 2013

The document GS3 PYQ (Mains Answer Writing): National Food Security Act 2013 | Indian Economy for UPSC CSE is a part of the UPSC Course Indian Economy for UPSC CSE.
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FAQs on GS3 PYQ (Mains Answer Writing): National Food Security Act 2013 - Indian Economy for UPSC CSE

1. What is the National Food Security Act 2013?
Ans. The National Food Security Act 2013 is a legislation enacted by the Government of India to provide food and nutritional security to the nation's population. It aims to ensure access to adequate quantity and quality of food at affordable prices to all citizens, particularly those who are economically disadvantaged.
2. What are the key features of the National Food Security Act 2013?
Ans. The key features of the National Food Security Act 2013 include the provision of subsidized food grains through the Public Distribution System (PDS), the identification of priority households and eligible beneficiaries, the establishment of grievance redressal mechanisms, and the creation of State Food Commissions to monitor the implementation of the Act.
3. Who are the eligible beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act 2013?
Ans. The eligible beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act 2013 include households belonging to priority groups such as households headed by a widow, single women, or disabled persons, households with no adult member between the ages of 16 and 59, and households belonging to certain occupational categories like manual scavengers and sanitation workers.
4. What is the role of State Food Commissions under the National Food Security Act 2013?
Ans. State Food Commissions play a crucial role in the implementation of the National Food Security Act 2013. They are responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Act, reviewing the functioning of the PDS, conducting inquiries into complaints and violations, and recommending measures to improve the delivery of food security benefits.
5. How does the National Food Security Act 2013 contribute to food and nutritional security in India?
Ans. The National Food Security Act 2013 contributes to food and nutritional security in India by ensuring the availability of subsidized food grains to eligible beneficiaries, improving access to food through the PDS, and addressing issues of hunger, malnutrition, and food insecurity. It also promotes the well-being and overall development of individuals by addressing their nutritional needs.
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