This article on ‘Food security in India’ is written by Sukriti Chowdhury an intern at Legal Upanishad.
Life is sustained by food. The right to food is a fundamental human right. According to Article 211 of the Indian Constitution of 1950, one of the essential human rights is the right to food, which is intrinsically linked to the right to life.
The deprivation of one right has an irreversible impact on another, as does the intrinsic linkage between the rule of law and the preservation of other human rights, along with the right to food. For a country like India, where 21.92 percent of the population lives in poverty and nearly half of all children are subject to malnutrition, guaranteeing food security in India should be a top priority.
There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.– Mahatma Gandhi
This article deals with the constitutionality regarding the right to food and the object behind National Food Security Act, 2013 and enumerates the challenges which are related to food security in India and concludes with suggestions that could be inculcated for the betterment of the food-security ecosystem.
WHAT IS FOOD SECURITY?
The paradigm of ‘food security in India’ has developed during the past several decades. Food security is explained as “the perpetual availability of sufficient global food supply of necessary nutritional food to maintain a continuous growth of food intake and to balance variations in productivity and pricing,” as stated by the 1974 World Food Summit. Due to the popularity of the Green Revolution, which increased but did not lead to significant eradication of poverty or malnutrition, it was realized that “availability” does not guarantee “access.“
CONSTITUTIONALITY OF THE ‘RIGHT TO FOOD’
The fundamental right to food is addressed under the following:
- As per Article 21 of the Constitution, “No one shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except in accordance to the procedure established by law.” The fundamental notion of deprivation of living, also known as the right to life in some contexts, can be linked to the National Food Security Act(NFSA).
- Article 39(a) guarantees all people of this nation the right to a sufficient means of livelihood.
- Article 47 highlights the state’s responsibility to improve the nutritional and living standards of its citizens.
As a result, these articles and the circumstances they created emphasized the importance of the National Food Security Act.
National Food Security Act, 2013: A milestone
The National Food Security Act strives to ensure that everyone in the country has access to quality food perpetually. It is a collection of basic prerogatives amongst a fundamental right to food and nutrition that can be savored and gradually increased until accessibility to proper nourishment is attained. It covers the human life cycle from conception to death. The bill allows recipients to buy 5 kg of cereals each month per person entitled, for Rs. 3 per kg of rice, Rs. 2 per kg of wheat, and Rs. 1 per kg of coarse grains.
CHALLENGES TO FOOD SECURITY IN INDIA
The following are the issues India encounters in ensuring food security:
- Climate change
Climate change is predicted to have an impact on agricultural land usage productivity as a result of reduced irrigation water resources and other aspects. Climate change, according to many reports, will aggravate temporal and spatial variations in water supply, as well as major flood and drought occurrences. To combat climate-related environmental hazards, it is essential to address alterations in structure and commodity allocation.
- Diversification of Crops
Crop diversification has received a lot of attention from agricultural scientists in recent years. Food grain prices, such as rice and wheat, are not promising, and farmers have received a very poor return. Farmers were encouraged to increase their profits by focusing on different crops.
- The increasing gap between water demand and supply.
Rainfall and availability of water vary greatly across the country, both in terms of time and space. Due to population increase, industrialization, and urbanization, the need for water for diverse uses is rising. Agriculture currently consumes roughly 83 percent of available water, but due to demand from other sectors, accessibility may drop to 68 percent by 2050. As a result, there is an imbalance between water demand and availability.
- Fragmentation of land
Land fragmentation is common in India, and it is thought that the dispersed pattern of landholdings contributes significantly to low agricultural productivity. Over the years, as the world’s population has grown, land availability has decreased. As a result, changes in land usage cropping patterns are required.
- Seeds and agricultural inputs of high quality
The seed industry’s challenge is to make excellent seeds with strong genetic capability available to farmers at a reasonable price and around the nation so that they can reap higher yields in the prevailing agroclimatic situations.
- Marketing of agricultural products
Poor roads, extensive regulation, and a lack of market infrastructure make it difficult for farmers to hit the consumers. As a result, actions must be taken to promote agricultural marketing in India by enabling private enterprise and foreign direct investment to increase agricultural marketing and production.
Globalization has undoubtedly increased dependency and competitiveness across countries on the global market, putting native farmers and manufacturers in a worse position and has led to the creation of special economic zones (SEZs) which have widened the disparity between rich and poor classes.
- Strengthening the Judiciary is Required
The judicial process has a critical duty to safeguard and uphold fundamental rights, especially the right to food.
Only an impartial and competent judiciary can give remedies and prevent rights infringement.
- Poverty-Reduction Initiatives
There is a pressing need to enhance the method for identifying persons who do not have access to food. Hunger is primarily caused by poverty. As a result, the government should work to alleviate poverty, which prevents poor people from purchasing nutritious food. To some point, job programs should be implemented in rural or backward areas to alleviate poverty.
- Economic Development and Sustainable Growth
For the continuous execution of the right to sufficient food in the aegis of national food security, the State Legislature shall pursue wide-ranging economic prosperity that supports food security measures. It is also the function of the state government to set policy objectives and standards depending on the citizenry’s food security requirements.
- Government Accountability
It is a term that refers to the government’s capacity to retain itself accountable.
To gradually achieve food security, the legislation should be designed in such a way that the various functions served by the various government instrumentalities are specified. The fundamental right to food necessitates the active participation of a number of organizations.
- Formation of Special Food Courts
For the constitutionality of the right to food, special food courts should be formed specifically to cater to food matters such as corruption and black marketing, as well as faulty administration.
- Linking MGNREGA and the National Food Security Act
The Food Security Act must be linked to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), which guarantees individuals in rural places 100 days of unskilled work at a basic wage. The fact is that, when combined with MGNREGA, the Food Act has the potential to transform both agriculture and rural India.
- Agricultural Development and Productivity Enhancement
There should be agricultural development and productivity increases that benefit the poor in terms of salaries and employment opportunities.
- Increased Public Funding
For research, expansion, and diversification of rural infrastructures, such as roadways, storage, and organized marketplaces, improved farmer education, effective private sector participation in providing technology, financing, and organizational skill for commercial viability, and alteration of land regulations to accomplish enhanced production utilization, there needs to be more public investment.
- Employment Possibilities
All laws and programs will not be able to deal with the challenges of food security in the long term; rather, the alternative is to guarantee that all individuals (job seekers) have the purchasing potential to maintain their nutritional requirements.
Among the most pressing challenges of our day is food security. It is one of the fundamental rights. It won’t be possible to attain our MDG unless we have food security. Approximately one-third of Indians presently are unable to obtain the food they need. To ensure that everyone has access to basic food, we must enhance our output, increase our sales, and develop a long-term plan in this regard.
Food security is similar to a vehicle with four gears that improve one’s living: availability, approach, allocation, and absorption. The intersection of these four elements could be described as a strategic location for food security. As a result, there is a critical need to enhance these four aspects in every part of India.
- Jain, S. (n.d.). Food Security in India: Problems and Prospects. International Journal of Sustainable Development 09:01 (2016). Retrieved from https://oidaijsd.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/09-01-01.pdf
- Kavita. (2017). Law relating to food security in India challenges and prospects. Retrieved from https://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/208973/13/13_chapter%206.pdf
- Prof. Mamata Sawakar, P. H. (n.d.). CHALLENGES TO INDIA’S NATIONAL FOOD. International Journal of Creative Research Thoughts (IJCRT). Retrieved from https://ijcrt.org/papers/IJCRT1893329.pdf
- Ranjan, O. (2021). Food Security Policy in India: Challenges and Performance. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/349767066_Food_Security_Policy_in_India_Challenges_and_Performance/citation/download.
- Singh, V. V. (n.d.). National Food Security Act: A step towards food security in India? Bihar Economic Journal, 3(1).