WORKSHOP ON RIGHT TO FOOD
MATUNGA, JULY 14, 2012: Don Bosco Development Society organized a two-day workshop (July 12-13) on the people’s right to food and nutrition and the National Food Security bill, 2011. The workshop was attended by fifty four people including staff, SHG leaders and community leaders. The workshop focused on creating awareness on the problem of rotting food grains in FCI godowns and hunger prevailing in India. Though the right to food is covered under the article 21 and article 47 and also by international instruments like UDHR and ICESCR, yet we have the highest number of hungry people in our country. Almost half of our children are malnourished and as per global hunger index (GHI) 2011, India’s position is the worst not only in south Asia, but also among some of the sub-Saharan countries. It is strange to understand that a country like India which claims to be a growing economic power has one fourth of world’s hungry people.
India has a large food distribution system called Targeted Public Distribution System. But the sad fact is that about 60% of our wheat and 27% of our rice is pilfered from the system before reaching the ration card holder. Unfortunately, the Food Security bill, 2011 which has recently been tabled in the Lok Sabha doesn’t specifically target making the system more transparent or efficient as far as the delivery of the food grain is concerned. It has suggested reforming the PDS but there is no timeline specified. The definition of food security is too narrow and also the definition of meal has many options including take home ration. In such circumstances, the government will give food grains and not cooked food. It is difficult to imagine how the destitute and homeless would get their benefit when a normal household is unable to access it’s entitlements under PDS.
The second day focused on how the PDS works and how people can access various schemes of PDS and make the system responds to their needs. Practical solutions were suggested to people’s problem related to PDS entitlements and a visit was made to the Matunga Ration Office. Interaction of participants was held with the ration office staff.
Addressing the audience on first day Fr.Savio Silveira brought attention to the fact that malnutrition is a grave challenge and cited the news story that stated that more than 24000 children died of malnutrition in the year 2011 and more than 10 lacs are still affected by various forms of malnutrition. Fr. Savio suggested forming an action plan to work on this issue in the project area. At the end of the workshop an action plan was prepared and people came forward to form a vigilance committee to access their rights under PDS.