Food Security Bill must be pushed sensibly: Amartya Sen
He said it was “an achievement” of Indians to be able to get the food security legislation on the table of Parliament, and that it must be pushed sensibly, choosing between where cash transfers would work and where they wouldn’t. Sen deplored the fact that children’s entitlements under the Food Security Bill were so weak.
Recent Supreme Court orders on midday meals and the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), he said, have made an important contribution to the health and nutrition of children. The Bill, he felt, should not dilute these entitlements in any way.
Amartya Sen recalled, in particular, three advantages of universal coverage when it comes to basic public services and social facilities. First, it makes these facilities a matter of citizens’ right, and avoids any exclusion.
Second, it ensures that powerful and influential people have a stake in them. Third, universal coverage helps to avoid corruption.
Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia took a slightly different position when he spoke of inadequate data to ascertain of it was the schemes like ICDS or Anganwadi that would help to lower the extent of malnutrition among children.
He said that the latest figures available to the government on this were of the Third National Family Health Survey 2005-6 and there was need to update the statistics.
Ahluwalia said that food security should be made a priority and not be linked to the fiscal deficit. “Money can easily be allocated for
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