Poverty and Food Security

According to the data of the 66th round of the National Sample Survey (2009-10), the average dietary energy intake per person per day was 2147 Kcal for rural India and 2123 Kcal for urban India. As per the Report of Nutritional Intake in India, 2011-12 (NSSO, 68th round), among the bottom 5 per cent of rural population ranked by Monthly Per Capita Expenditure (MPCE), 57 per cent of households had calorie intake below 2160 Kcal/consumer unit/day. The average protein intake per capita per day rises steadily with MPCE level in rural India from 43 gm for the bottom 5 per cent of population ranked by MPCE to 91 gm for the top 5 per cent, and in urban India from 44 gm for the bottom 5 per cent to about 87 gm for the top 5 per cent.

Economic Survey 2015-16 states that India has the second highest number of undernourished people at 194.6 million person (FAO, State of Food Insecurity in the World, 2015) which warrants immediate attention. Moreover, with 27 per cent of the population below the poverty line, the rise in prices of food impacts the poor adversely, with a greater proportion of their household incomes being spent on food. Therefore, along with provision of food subsidy, stability in agricultural commodity prices is essential for making poorer sections food secure.

There is a strong correlation between stability in agricultural production and food security. Volatility in agricultural production impacts food supplies and can result in spikes in food prices, which adversely affect the lowest income of the population.

With a large number of people who remain undernourished and the issues of volatility in agricultural prices, Economic Survey 2015-16 states that India has one of the largest scheme of food schemes in the World to ensure food security. There is entitlement feeding programs like the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) (All Children under six, pregnant and lactating mothers) and MDMS (Mid Day Meal Schemes), food subsidy programmes like the Targeted Public Distribution System, Annapurna (10 Kgs of free food grain for destitute poor) and the Employment Programmes like Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (100 days of employment at minimum wages) to ensure food security.

Inclusion and Social Justice

Introduction

The strategy for inclusive growth in the Eleventh Plan is not just a conventional strategy for growth to which some elements aimed at inclusion have been added. On the contrary, it is a strategy which aims at achieving a particular type of growth process which will meet the objectives of inclusiveness and sustainability. Meaning of Inclusiveness 'Inclusiveness' has different meanings.

These are:

Inclusiveness as Poverty Reduction

Ensuring an adequate flow of benefits to the poor and the most marginalized is part of distributional concerns under Twelfth Plan. Even though percentage of the population below the poverty line has been falling, the numbers below the poverty line still remain large. The percentage of the population in poverty has been falling consistently but the rate of decline was too slow. The rate of decline in poverty in the period 2004'05 to 2009'10 was 1.5 percentage points per year, which is twice the rate of decline of 0.74 percentage points per year observed between 1993'94 and 2004'05. According to some non-social estimates, the rate of decline in poverty between 2004'05 and 2011'12 will be close to 2 per cent per year, which was the Eleventh Plan target. If this turns out to be the case, it can be claimed that the Eleventh Plan has indeed delivered on inclusiveness.

Inclusiveness as Group Equality

Inclusiveness is not just about bringing below poverty line to a level above it. It is also about a growth process which is seen to be 'fair' by different socio-economic groups that constitute our society. The poor are certainly one target group, but inclusiveness must also embrace the concern of other groups such as the Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), Other Backward Classes (OBCs), Minorities, the differently abled and other marginalised groups. Women can also be viewed as a disadvantaged group for this purpose. Inclusiveness from a group perspective goes beyond a poverty reduction perspective and includes consideration of the status of the group as a whole relative to the general population.

Inclusiveness as Regional Balance

Another aspect of inclusiveness relates to whether all States, and indeed all regions, are benefitting from the growth process. The regional dimension has grown in importance in recent years. On the positive side, many of the erstwhile backward States have begun to show significant improvement in growth performance and the variation in growth rates across States has narrowed. However, both the better performing and other States are increasingly concerned about their backward regions, or districts, which may not share the general improvement in living standards experienced in other parts of the state.

Twelfth Plan would pay special attention to the scope for accelerating growth in the States that are lagging behind. An important constraint on the growth of backward regions in the country is the poor state of infrastructure, especially road connectivity, schools and health facilities and the availability of electricity, all of which combine to hold back development. Improvement in infrastructure must therefore be an important component of any regionally inclusive development strategy.

Inclusiveness and Inequality

Inclusiveness also means greater attention to income inequality. e extent of inequality is measured by indices such as the Gini coefficient, or by measures that focus on particular segments such as the ratio of consumption of the top 10 per cent or 20 per cent of the population to that of the bottom 10 per cent or 20 per cent of the population, or in terms of rural'urban, such as the ratio of mean consumption in urban versus rural areas. Although, perfect equality is not found anywhere, inequality must be kept within tolerable limits. An increase in inequality with little or no improvement in the living standards of the poor is a recipe for social tensions. We therefore need to move as rapidly as possible to the ideal of giving every child in India a fair opportunity in life, which means assuring every child access to good health and quality education. Twelfth Plan aims at making substantial progress in this dimension.

Inclusiveness as Empowerment

Finally, inclusiveness is also about empowerment and participation. We have already achieved some success in building a participatory democracy. People are slowly beginning to demand these benefits and support unities as rights. They also want good governance. us, the issues like governance, accountability and people's participation have become more important. e growing concern with governance has also focused attention on corruption.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply