Amartya Sen bats for universal food coverage

Questions current growth vision when 40 percent children are malnourished

prasanna

Prasanna Mohanty | February 16, 2013


Nobel laureate Amartya Sen
Nobel laureate Amartya Sen

Batting for universal coverage of food entitlement, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen called for strengthening the draft food security bill, particularly the provisions relating to children’s entitlement. He said the supreme court orders on mid-day meals and integrated child development services (ICDS) had made important contribution to the health and nutrition of children. The bill, he felt, should not dilute these entitlements in any way.

He was speaking at a seminar on ‘hunger and nutrition: time to act’ organised at the Delhi IIT on Friday.

Sen said meeting the needs of malnourishments in children was not only important from the point of social justice but also to generate long-term growth and development. He drew attention to the fact “with one-third illiteracy, one-half without toilets, one-third with no electricity, 40 percent of children being under-nourished” India needed to review if any increase in growth rate was sustainable at all.

In fact, he recalled how at the time of independence the principles of free and universal provision of essential health, education and nutrition were part of the country’s vision and how we need to revive that now.

He counted three benefits of universal coverage of health, education and nutrition. First, it makes these facilities a matter of citizens’ right, and avoids any exclusion. Second, it ensures that powerful and influential people have a stake in them. Third, universal coverage helps to avoid corruption.

Saying that the tabling of food security bill in parliament was an achievement in itself Sen said it must be pushed sensibly, keeping in mind where cash transfers would work and where not. It was in reference to some states demanding cash transfer instead of food supply to the poor and malnourished population.

In the meanwhile, the food security bill has been sent back to the drawing board after several state governments opposed to some of the key elements of the bill. These objections related to uniform criteria of selecting beneficiaries, putting an arbitrary limit on the number of beneficiaries in rural (75 percent) and urban (50 percent) and the financial burden the extended coverage would put on some of the badly performing and poor states.

Comments

 

Other News

On a personal note: DIVINE

An underground rapper who grew up on Mumbai streets, Divine spins his music around his environment and poverty. His breakout single, ‘Meri Gully Mein’, along with fellow rapper Naezy caught Bollywood’s attention. The Hindi film ‘Gully Boy’ is inspired by their lives and gr

The role model for an IAS officer

Anil Swarup, an IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre who retired in 2018, is a model bureaucrat who retained his optimism right till the end of service and exemplified dedication and commitment. His excitement at the opportunities that a job in the IAS provided is evident on every page of his new book publis

Reform of the civil services: At home and away

The question of reform of the civil services has been debated extensively at all levels at least over the last five to six decades after independence. Indeed, it was soon perceived that the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) may not be well equipped to deal with the problems of an emerging developing coun

The greatest challenge for any government

Shouting vengeance at all and sundry while wriggling out of holes of our own making seems to be our very special national characteristic. Some recent instances are illustrative of this attribute. A number of business tycoons with thousands of crores of unresolved debts have fled abroad with the government

The mysterious case of CBI’s legality

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) came into existence, based on a Resolution of the home ministry, dated April 1, 1963 – a sheer coincidence that it also happens to be April Fool’s day. Over the past few months, we have seen the CBI live up to its founding day with great zeal, being i

The Evolution of Modi

Gujarat was passing through a turbulent phase in the 1980s. The decade began middle class agitations against new reservation policies, and the caste friction turned communal under the watch of chief minister Madhavsinh Solanki, alienating majority of urban population on both counts. The ground was ripe for

Current Issue

Current Issue

Video

CM Nitish’s convoy attacked in Buxar

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter