The World Health Organization regards Food Security to be a significant issue linked to health, environment, trade, and sustainable economic development. It also defines the term as sufficient quantities of food materials that not only is nutritious and healthy but is also accessible to every person consistently. India, having a major population living below the poverty line (BPL), recognises the need for food security among its citizens. The National Food Security Mission under the Agriculture Ministry adopted a resolution to increase production of main crops in 2007 so as to ensure food provision to the country. In 2013, the Indian government passed an ordinance to provide food security to its citizens. In compliance with the Centre, the state of Haryana has also adopted the ordinance since then, which was meant to benefit its population of over 1.26 crores. The ground reality, though, is far from this dream.
According to the state government, the Food and Supplies Department has the responsibility to ensure the implementation of the Food Security Act in Haryana. In this regard, the department is supposed to manage the public distribution of food, which would be maintained using the Antodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) Ration/Smart Cards for people living below poverty line. According to the scheme, the AAY card holders could buy per kilogram of grains of rice and wheat at subsidised rate of Rs. 3 and Rs. 2, respectively. Each BPL family is also entitled for two kilograms of sugar per month at the rate of Rs. 13.5 per kg. In addition to the national scheme, the state government also subsidised the price of pulses at Rs. 20 per kg for 2.5 kg per family. Since the launch of the scheme, the state has seen a rise in agricultural yield of the grains, and Haryana's government has also decided to spend more money to encourage more production. This may give a picture that people are finally getting two square meals a day. However, the truth is far from this beautiful picture.
Challenges that bar the successful implementation of food security scheme in Haryana include issues in the delivery mechanism and problems in identifying the beneficiaries. According to news reports, despite multiple surveys conducted by officials, there are many people who have been left out from the list. Haryana has more than 1.2 crore people living in poverty, but the government recognises only 55 lakh of them. Even those who have smart cards do not have access to any Fair Price Shop that would allow them to buy subsidised food grains. The government blames the inconsistencies on a computer virus and officials ask the ministry to consult the law if there was a problem with the list of beneficiaries. Consequently, it is the people who are facing the brunt.
Hence, despite such ambitious endeavors, welfare is yet to reach the people who deserve it, and somewhere, delivery is being hampered. The need to correct the delivery system is paramount at the moment. The system needs to be more effectively monitored and assessed regularly. In addition, it is imperative to include each and every Haryanvi living in poverty in the system, be it through conducting more surveys and registrations or partnering with local agencies to get help about the same. Only then will Naya Haryana be more inclusive and bright.