The National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013 provides food and nutritional security by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices. Thus, it strengthens Article 21 enshrined in the Constitution.
NFSA Act, 2013: Salient Features:
- Coverage: Up to 75% of rural population and 50% of urban population (67% of total population)
- Priority households: 5 kg/person/month
- Antyodaya households: 35 kg/household/month
- Subsidized prices of Rs. 3/2/1 per kg for rice, wheat and coarse grains.
- Nutritional Support: Meals for Pregnant women and lactating mothers (PWLM) and children (6 months-14 years).
- Maternity Benefit of Rs 6000 for PMLM.
- Women Empowerment : Eldest woman (18 years and above) considered as head of household for issuing ration cards.
- Grievance redressal at the District and State levels.
- Accountability through social audits and Vigilance Committees.
- Food Security Allowance in case of non-supply of food.
Role of NFSA in eliminating hunger and Malnutrition
- Improved Coverage (67%) in comparison to TPDS. Out of maximum coverage of 81.34 crores, 80 crore people covered so far.
- Undernourishment reduced from 22% to 15% in last decade (FAO’s “State of Food Security and Nutritional 2021”)
- Percentage of stunted children reduced from 38% (NFHS-4) to 35% (NFHS-5)
Paradigm Shift from welfare to rights-based approach.
- Life-cycle approach by guaranteeing access throughout the life cycle beginning from pregnancy to old age.
Addresses 3 dimensions of Food security- Availability, Accessibility and Affordability.
- However, NFSA still faces number of challenges as evident in India’s lower ranking (101) on GHI, Global Food Security Index:
The NFSA has the potential to be a game changer. However, the Government must implement recommendations of committees such as Shanta Kumar, Nandan Nilekani etc. to streamline distribution and make it more efficient.