Food security act to make people weaker

The reconstituted National Advisory Council will bring the focus back on welfare policies, Magsaysay awardee and member of the council ARUNA ROY told ANKUR PALIWAL  

By Ankur Paliwal
Published: Thursday 15 July 2010

imageWhat is the agenda of the newly constituted Council?

The National Advisory Council (NAC 2) will focus on the United Progressive Alliance government’s social sector programmes, which so far have been neglected. Bringing the focus back on laws and policy, with stress on social policy and the rights of the disadvantaged groups is important. All decisions of our meetings will be posted on the website after members approve the draft minutes.

The road map?

The council will review the implementation of the government’s two flagship programmes: Right To Information (RTI) and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA). It will give suggestions to overcome the constraints in their implementation and delivery. The council will also take up food security, communal violence bill, tribal development, rural renewal and revitalization of agriculture, poverty alleviation, employment generation, urban poverty, education and health and policy and laws that impact the social sector.

What is priority for the July 1 meet?

We will discuss Food Security Bill first. The anti-communal bill is also on the priority list.

What is NAC’s position on food security? What measures need to be taken to ensure food security and curb food inflation?

The government is not creating platforms for consultation and dialogue with the campaigns held earlier in a sustained manner to reflect on the policy. The last decade has brought in the possibility of a more participatory system of policy making. You do not ensure food security merely by calling something a food security act. The draft food security act will do little to ensure food security. In fact, it might make some people more vulnerable. All vulnerable groups, like children, elderly, homeless, disabled and other marginalized communities, must get special entitlements. In addition, universal entitlement over subsidized foodgrain in the public distribution system with a concentration on improving its delivery are some of the issues that need to be reflected in the framework for a food security act.

What is the status of implementation of tribal rights and development in Naxal areas?

We need to evaluate development outreach, which cannot be only in the context of the Maoist presence. We need to accept the fact that the system to deliver basic necessities to the tribals has failed. An atmosphere conducive to development and democracy has to be built in areas under Naxalites’ influence.

What are the major challenges before the council?

The challenge is to institutionalize a democratic consultative process, so that the priorities and views of the people are reflected in policies.

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