PDS and Food Security: A Study on Household Non-Food Expenditure of BPL Families in Karnataka
The outbreak of Second World War and famine were marked as the beginning of an era of an uncertain price rise and food supply. Having suffered from this, for instance, India had to depend on U. S to import wheat under PL 480 Agreement. This led to the inculcation of an idea of institutional approach which was then complemented by green revolution in India. In an addition to this, India along with other UN member states have made three major commitments to eradicate world hunger: Rome Declaration on world food security at World Food Summit in 1996, Millennium Development Goal 1(MDG 1) 2001 and Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG 2) 2015. Though the countries are committed, latest estimates of FAO reveal the fact that about 795 million people in the world – just over one in nine were undernourished. Ever since the green revolution of 1960s in India, there was an output uptrend which is in fact sustained by introduction of yield enhancing technology, supportive services and infrastructure. Consequently, the country’s total output of food grains has increased to 277.49 million tonnes from 51 million tonne in 1951 according to the advance estimates of Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare for 2017-18. Although the net availability of food grains has declined by 11 percent since 1991, government has been trying to bridge the gap by entering into various international agreements. However, food sufficiency does not automatically reflect food security for the entire population at all the times though it makes country to be secured of food supply at micro level. According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates 2015 shows that India accounts for overall low performance in ensuring food security- it has the second-highest estimated number of undernourished people in the world. In fact, the real issue is not only the availability of food but also of its affordability by the poor. From this point of view, the concept of food security has encompassed livelihood security and poverty alleviation as means to ensure economic capacity to afford food. Significantly, Indian policy makers have treated food security as a national priority and, therefore, central point of the food policy. The food security system, thus, went beyond the food self-sufficiency to buffer stocking and distribution as well. For this purpose, an extensive food management system has been evolved which primarily take care of three elements: procurement of food grains at MSP, storage of food grains at warehouses and distribution of food grains through public distribution system (PDS). To tackle the problem of poverty and inequality, different approaches have been adopted from time to time. On the one hand employment generation programme as a means of alleviating poverty is going on, on the other hand, policy initiatives like Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) and National Food Security Act (NFSA) for providing subsidised food to targeted groups are being implemented to guard against hunger and malnutrition.
Public Distribution System (PDS)
The Public Distribution System was formed to manage food supplies during scarcity has evolved as a distribution system of food grains at affordable prices. The main emphasis was to stabilize price till the end of the year 1970 and it was covered only urban areas and food deficit states. However, when the welfare dimension of PDS gained momentum, its coverage has been extended to rural areas in some states and to the area having high incidence of poverty as well. Over the years, PDS has become important factor of government’s policy of food economy management in the country. The primary responsibility of the central government was to intervene in the market for food grains by announcing minimum support price as well as procuring surplus food grains. The government later, changed its attitude towards it as a part of economic reforms. Thus, Revamped PDS was modified and renamed it as Targeted PDS in 1997. Accordingly, 652.03 lakh BPL households including Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) families were covered at the period of formation and remained 1151.75 lakh households were under APL category. Under TPDS, food grains were allocated to states based on ‘below the poverty line population’. As such, the allocation was 10 kgs of cereals per family per month. In addition to this, excess demand could meet by state at higher price. The intention of new system to limit subsidised food grains to the poor and phase it out to the above poverty line beneficiaries. PDS is operates under the joint responsibility of the central and state governments. The responsibility of procurement, storage, transportation and bulk allocation of food grains to the states through Food Corporation of India (FCI) is vested with central government. State government has the operational responsibility including allocation within state, identification of eligible families, issue of ration cards, distribution of food grains through Fair Price shops (FPS) and supervision of the functioning of FPS. Under PDS, commodities, namely, wheat, rice and coarse grains are being allocated to the some of the states/UTs for the distribution. Along with this, states/UTs distribute additional items of mass consumption through PDS outlets such as sugar, pulses, edible oil, iodized salt, spices, etc. as per their requirement.
Objectives of the Study
To find adequacy of quantity of commodities from the fair price shops among BPL beneficiaries
To analyse how access to PDS enables BPL families to spend subsidised income on non- food items.
To investigate rural-urban food and non-food consumption inequality.
To examine the factors affecting offtake of commodities from fair price shops.
Hypothesis of the Study
H1: The quantity of commodities from fair price shop is adequate for targeted group.
H2: There is direct relationship between subsidised income and non- food consumption.
H3: Income elasticity for non-food consumption is less among rural BPL households than urban BPL households.