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 food subsidy” but he said, “if the diesel subsidy, of about Rs 91,000 crore, was done away with”.
Shanta Sinha, chairperson of the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights criticised the National Food Security Bill.
She took up the Parliamentary Standing Committee report on the Bill, which suggests replacing children’s entitlements with an additional allocation of 5 kg of food grains per month for pregnant women under the Public Distribution System.