Time for Universal Public Distribution System: Food Mountains and Pandemic Hunger in India

Publication Type:

Journal Articles

Authors:

Swati Narayan

Source:

Indian Journal of Human Development, Volume 15, Issue 3 (2021)

URL:

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/09737030211049007

Keywords:

food corporation of India, hunger, malnutrition, Pandemic, public distribution system, universalisation

Abstract:

<p>The latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS 5) indicates that child stunting in India was severe and has been deteriorating since 2015. This trend could have worsened since the pandemic and the stringent lockdowns meant to contain it. There has been an acute increase in impoverishment as governmental food policies have further exacerbated rather than mitigated inequalities. Families eligible under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013, have been provided with double food grain rations during two waves of the pandemic. However, nearly 45% of India’s population without these ration cards have been largely excluded from additional food relief from the central government. Simultaneously, India’s food grain stocks in government granaries have accumulated to their all-time peak with 2 years of bumper harvests. Therefore, in light of the acute distress faced by marginalised communities due to the pandemic, this article analyses the availability of adequate food grain stocks and contends that the time is opportune for the universal expansion of the public distribution system.</p>