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Lockdown and the Food Security Act 2013: The Farrago

Harum-scarum the time looks to be, because India in its territory is vibrant with its population of 135 million, yawning at its every beat of life, and when the situation felts to be gloomy of the being, hue and cry of the colossus strength acknowledged to have tested the potentiality of the country's governance in meeting their basic needs of life. A well move for them with time after time seemed to have endeavoured, where of them, government looks to be with great measures to helm their needs of life. Legislature legislates, what is best for the country, welfare of the nation, is what the legislature determines.

Judiciary works as the guardian to check legislatives action that in an extent to which the social purpose is being met out by the legislatives endeavour.

The year 2020 stood out to be the testing force of time. Nothing of the year could have been predicted earlier prior to which the sovereign could take a caveat against the test of time. The questions of the year 2020 are seemed to be workable out of the syllabus from the book of governance.

In every move in answering the questions the governance looks to have failed in its attempt. Covid 19 and Hurricanes, and we are in the mid of the year 2020, has already in action to make human beings cognizant of the fact that they are nothing but mere human beings only, and in their actions they have the limits to which standing in a contrary force, nature is supreme, indefatigable it is.

Country like India, 94% of the working population works in unorganised sectors, living upon the daily wages they earn. Shattering across the country they are in many working in various unorganised sectors, which are not registered to the government.

Agriculture, dairy and the alike are the sectors where they work. Often they are paid with the fewer wage and of the back they are in lack of any stable employment. 52% of the labour force is in employment in unorganised sector in India.[1] Poverty is the natural consequences to which families clinging with are striving regularly to seek for their basic needs, an attempt to which regularly they fail vigorously and hardly, when certainly in boon of time, few from them sought to have measured the life above the poverty line.

The regular scenario for them rolls like this, where their happiness lies on needs only, with dreams in eyes, which often with hardwork and blessing looked to have prospered, otherwise bright sun shines for them would have also become a fact of floccinaucinihilipilification.

Unfolding Lockdown
The year to begin with witnessing to have traced with some cases of Covid 19, in Wuhan, China, when subsequently other parts of the world are tightening their curtains to keep themselves in veil, because of the disease, insidious, scheming and diabolic in nature and combating to which since then no antibody has hatched to unveil itself in standing against the infernal, to which lockdown therefore calls upon for rest of the countries in the world, especially the European Nations. India in its action working as a warrior prepared before hand, on having its first case being traced in Tamil Naidu, started taking precaution to keep the countrymen in veil.

When with the declaration came from World Health Organisation in the month of March claiming the virus as global pandemic, from 25th of March onwards lockdown unravelled for the whole nation with the Prime Minister allocution.

A permanent halt with that drops in every sector of employment, firing of the employees and shuttering down of the businesses were in actual practice for the owners. Market for the countrymen comes down to have ceased in its operations except that of the essential commodities, shops for which were ordered to keep opened for a particular time period so that insane rush for stocking food for the future could be avoided. The country on facing lockdown has no experience of its past, except that of the emergency in the year 1975.

Lockdown has no history of curing the disease, still when no weapon to fight with left, then it's better to keep oneself in veil. The objectivity was to curb down the spreading of the disease, as the disease carrying highly contagion feature in it.

28th of March, 2020, an order post to lockdown drops to meet the basic needs of time, in keeping the countrymen unhindered in getting the commodities related to farming and agriculture. The exempted categories therefore said to be opened in terms of its businesses, because it is of the fact that the whole society is of the nature run in vicious circle, every production and every industry has a connexion plugged with the other.

Certainly the industries connected with milk, agriculture and horticulture stood closed for the lockdown, consequently therefore the raw materials were found to be in bottleneck situation, factories to which need of those mentioned products rested with, are closed.

Therefore productivity fall aback, wastage of essential commodities were traced, spilling of milk across the streets witnessed and several others perishable products went maggoty of the circumstances, chequered in its sense, anomalous in nature, where every sufferings begotten to have a slow decay because of lackadaisical approach being made in locking down the nation in an unplanned manner.

On 27th of March All India Kishan Sangharash Coordinating Committee (AIKSCC), in a representation addressing the government praying for not preventing the harvesters, peasants and farmers by the local police from continuing the works of farming and harvesting and to keep the markets connecting to such products, like eggs, poultry, meat and milk open otherwise farmers would be with the essential products standing in a horrendous situation to face with. On 1st of April AIKSCC addressing the Punjab Chief Minister stated that because of the workers being resting behind the doors, harvesting and works of farming are in lacunae.

The time as significant for ripening of the fruits, which are on time to pick with, but because of no workers the fruits are in lack of collection, milks are being poured down in the canal as industries connecting to it are closed, perishable the nature of these products, if on time therefore they are not responded, the products would end up with no use of the being.

Madhya Pradesh of the fact witnessed of the complain being made by the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), regarding the mandis at the district level being closed, traders with watermelons, oranges and grapes were told to return with the products, traders to which refused to do so because of the heavy losses they were to face with and of the decaying character of the goods. The tragedy therefore rested with the fact that where the migrant labourers are in short of any food, the foods on the other hand are rottening from reaching its destined appetite.

The next letter on 4th of April being sent upon to the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, where the All India Kisan Masdoor Sabha warned of the fact that the time was of harvesting the mustard crops and workers were prevented from taking part, heavy losses in consequent to such would be an inevitable subject, which might led to heavy food crisis and hunger death. If Orissa to be considered MGNREGA has come to a complete clog, rural farmers were bragged, stopped from being farming. For them a season to lose with would cost them with the year[2].

The lockdown seemed to have not met with the spirit of Food Security Act 2013 while unleashing the lockdown on board. On panic the Anganwadi Centres were closed children of 6 years of age, lactate mothers and pregnant women were in looks for their requirements.

The time certainly looks to be void in exercise; a world of disquietude for them could be felt with. Below the poverty line ten thousands of the people suffered terribly. Mid day meal stopped, the benefit mandated by the Maternity Benefit Act for the pregnant mother and the lactating mother went sour. The situation for the poor looks untrodden with pain and sufferings, for whose death would be a matter of peace than life in a hellish glee.

Rolling of the Food Security Act 2013

2009 mandate of the Congress Party voiced of the fact towards making a law on food security, uniqueness of which would led to prosper the poor from the hunger and malnutrition, the country over the time of its various pockets is suffering from the cry and tears of the paupers.[3] The journey from 2009 to 2014, certainly has masqueraded the time being, since the board of hesitation and suspicion comes to an end to give the bill an effect of law. The intended shot was a fact of approbation, where of the 40% children stand malnourished in a country like India, to whom the fact of starvation was a matter of struggle.

Experts and other people of importance were of the discussion, certainly not of inspiring confidence from the bill. The reasons for which their distress rested were to hover across, was of the public distribution system, which has succumbed to a bizarre any further to stand securely for the people standing on the verge of starvation.

The Food Minister A.K Thomas was of the saying that due to leakages much of the food every year meets the fate of devastation. It was of the debate further capped that the policy intended to cover the objectivity in heads would be in terms of cost higher than what it had been anticipated by the Congress party. Certainly in cheap foods to be provided to the poor grabs much of the larger sentiments but in practice optimistic assessment is what needed to be rendered in giving effect to the purpose.[4] After several of the cleavage of conflicts being addressed, the bill on 2013 got the assent of the president to take the form of law.

Spasmodic in action and sprawling in being, the Act certainly not stood to be apposite of the current scenario. Fatuous it looks to be when it comes to the public distribution system, though rodomontade the Act intended to be. The arcane of the Act stood to meet 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population with subsidized food grains in the brim of Targeted Public Distributive System. The Act in furtherance to state with excludes the folks with no proper ration cards and death caused thereby.

The Allegory

Verdant undulations the surface and India in its spine agriculture is. Early of its times the wan day look used to rest for the nation on importation of the food grains from United States and the story of green revolution to bring for the country self competency, is of the fact inspires the countrymen a lot. Public Distributive System (PDS) stark back to have its impetus in the year 1942, which later by the Seventh Five Year Plan Period brought the populist character to it for the entire population of the nation.

Answering to the question who the owners of the food grains in India, stand decomposed on being saying the Food Corporation of India (FCI) is. The people of this country own it. Accountability, warehousing, distributing and procuring doesn't hack the FCI to be the owner of it, as it claims. Every year on procuring the Ravi and Kharif Crops after harvesting to stock, certainly the endeavour ensures the stability and proper circulation of the food grains thereby.[5]

Plaintive the situation looks to be, amidst the pandemic and in the crux of lockdown, no money no food the allegory founds to be. Starvation, entrenched malnourishment of the children anecdote the print and digital media, where people in consequences found dead, the State Governments are only counting numbers. The irony to trace with, the shops are in no shortages of food grains, still Pubic Distributive System is in lacunae to function with.

Footsore and travel-stained the migrants are, in an estimate of 100 million people stand to be uncovered by the PDS scheme, devoid of the National Food Security Act, doleful and wretched they are, stranded from the family and no food to taste with, death is the course they are to meet, inevitable it is.

Scholars like Meghana Mungikar, Jean Dreze and Reetika Khera, who decades of their life passed off in assessing the poverty and food security, are of the statement that PDS scheme excludes more than 108.4 million people in India, which is 8% population of the country. To those ingenuous and faces of quietude several NGOs and people in general, affable and polite, came forward to take care of food. Life when for them shabby and pale in colour, a situation stands to be abasing for the largest democracy in the world.

In certain vigour, universalising PDS is the call, where notwithstanding the fact of possessing or not possessing the ration cards, would not be a matter of consideration in meeting the appetite of the starved. Leading economics of the world including Amartya Sen and Raguramrajan, were of the statement in providing temporary ration cards for the months being kept in lockdown.

The food stock for the FCI is 77 million tonnes of rice and wheat, more than a buffered stock, which in the present year would further get collected. Therefore storages of food is of no question to respond with, in connexion an addition proposal being kept, that cooking is not an exercise to be done unavoidably in a dire-straits, and in regard to which government should provide cooked food to the migrants and poor people.[6]

National Food Security Act 2013 is jaded with the fact of its short-sightedness, depending solely on the shoulder of Targeted Productive Distribution System (TDPS). If of the past be acknowledged with, Public Distribution System (PDS) with the World War II had an introduction. Prior to 1960, the system based on importation of the food grains and its distribution. Later on with shortages of food being felt, Agriculture Prices Commission fostered the system to distribute the foods among the poor, which further in 1970 revamped to meet the poor in terms of their satisfaction in food and in 1990 the system soared high in maturity.

The system involved the targeted measure to meet with, for which proper identification being made to meet the poor who are in actual and shrill need of food only. The gross amount of food is procured by the Central Govt from the farmers and then through the state governments the subsidized food to be given through the retail shop owners to the persons who are in identification stands qualified.[7]

Point of analogy lies with the question being unravelled, does with the emergency every piece of legislation fails or does with an emergency kind situation new set rules to be followed for the citizens of the country? Answer to this stands debatable. The situation presently hovering is of a kind emergency though not specifically proclaimed. In a federal set up flittering and chattering of persons are rampant; a sudden lockdown from an unprecedented inevitable disease puts everything in hoax to be felt with, chequered anonymity it is, when for government real test of time arise.

Analytically to be answered with, a definite piece of legislation should have the flexibility in approach, meeting the changing situation of the society, so that the objectivity to be met with never gets failed and futile. Assessment in this regards should have been done when of the past public distributive system was a distress to function, experts from the corners suggested that, but of the democratic vigour, while tasting the vibrancy of the election mandate everything turns out to be a farrago.

Conclusion
Journey for seeking food as a right started in the year 2001, in the month of April. Public Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), in a petition to address the Supreme Court, two significant points accrued to meet with, complete failure of the Public Distributive System and Relief program for the drought prone areas. Embarking on the fact that nonentities are also the Indian citizens, the petition claims for the right to food, Art 21 ensures that predominantly.

Art 47 further reckoned of the fact of obligation being rested upon the State to ensure improvement in the health standards and nutrition of its people. Supreme Court considered of the fact and accentuate right to food to be predominantly prevailed within the sense of Art 21 of the constitution. Right to food therefore for the citizens of the country and to that the right stands to be their entitlement.[8]

Practically does judicial supervision enabled that right for the nation at large? Whack-a-mole the answer is. On 15th of June, 2016, Supreme reiterated, denial in accessing food should not be welcomed because of not having any ration card, on the basis of any identification or proof of residence the objectivity of the NFS Act be secured where drought had made a mark of its existence. The situation then could be assessed to be of emergency, droughts and famines claims to be of such character, which in today's spectrum much of the resemblance draw, when notwithstanding the identifications food to be provided to the needy and poor.

No law can be said to be beyond the natural law, where humanity persists and utilitarianism practised, and if of that NFS Act be tested, it would then seemed to have lacked in its optimistic cacophony.

End-Notes:
  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labour_in_India
  2. End the harassment of farmers now, Colin Gonsalves, The Hindu, 16th April 2020, Coronavirus Opeds and editorials https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/end-the harassment-of-farmers-now/article31349670.ece
  3. Congress Manifesto, Your Voice Our Pledge, The Hindu, pg no 6, https://www.thehindu.com/multimedia/archive/01813/Congress_Manifesto_1813003a.pdf
  4. Timeline: India's Food Security Bill, By WSJ Staff, 26th August 2013 10:57 pm IST, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL https://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2013/08/26/timeline-indias-food-security-bill/
  5. Hoarding government, starving people, by P. Chidambaram Indian Express, 26th of April,2020 10:25:05 amhttps://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/p-chidambaram-food-distribution-hunger-coronavirus-lockdown-6379259/
  6. Coronavirus Lockdown: As Hunger Grows, the Fear of Starvation Is Real, by Kabir Agarwal, 16th April, 2020 https://thewire.in/rights/covid-19-100-million-hunger-pds-universal
  7. Function of the Public Distribution System, An Analytical Report, PRS LEGISLATIVE RESEARCH, Sakshi Balani, December 2013, https://www.prsindia.org/administrator/uploads/general/1388728622~~TPDS%20Thematic%20Note.pdf
  8. Right to Food Campaign, Legal Action: An Introduction, http://www.righttofoodindia.org/case/case.html

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