ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Evaluation of the National Food Security Act, 2013 in Bihar: Reflections from the Field Study

The National Food Security Act, 2013 is a far-reaching public policy intervention to protect people against food insecurity, hunger and malnutrition. The NFSA 2013 brings the old public distribution system into the ambit of the NFSA 2013. The NFSA needs to be routinely evaluated for the better performance and assessment of its implementation as per the stated objectives. This study assesses the overall status and progress of the implementation of NFSA 2013 through the PDS in Bihar based on a field study conducted in 14 districts.

Portability in the Public Distribution System

The public distribution system in India is a major instrument for achieving the goal of “Zero Hunger.” Despite the vast amounts of resources spent, the PDS suffers from several inefficiencies largely attributable to the monopoly of agents involved in the last-mile delivery of grains. To address this issue, several state governments in India have started implementing a novel intervention called portability. This intervention offers beneficiaries the choice of when and where they can avail of their food entitlements while the government controls what and how much. We use detailed and large-scale programme data from Andhra Pradesh to analyse the uptake of portability among the beneficiaries and identify its underlying drivers.

Food Security and the Public Distribution System in Jammu and Kashmir

Till 1990–91, Jammu and Kashmir used to be a food surplus state, but it turned into a food-deficit state by 2000, due to changing land use pattern, stagnant agricultural production, unfavourable climate, conflict, and misplaced policy priorities. J&K faces issues with availability and accessibility more than with affordability. This study suggests systematic reforms to curb the leakages within the system in order to provide food security to the people at large. *** Corrigendum In our article “Food Security and the Public Distribution System in Jammu and Kashmir,” published in the 26 December 2020 issue of EPW, we inadvertently missed citing Dar (2015) for Table 1 and para 7 on page 19. Therefore, we add the following citation in our article through this corrigendum: Dar, Tanveer Ahmad (2015): “Food Security in Kashmir: Food Production and the Universal Public Distribution System,” Social Change, Vol 45, No 3, pp 400–20. The inconvenience is deeply regretted. —Shaveta Kohli, Khurshid Ahmad Rather The error is regretted. — Ed.

Food Security and COVID-19: Why India’s Public Distribution System Requires an Overhaul

In light of the ongoing pandemic and India's crumbling economy, what are the factors that we should pay heed to if we're to mitigate the food insecurity that India's migrant population faces?

A Conundrum of Efficiency And Inclusion: Aadhaar and Fair Price Shops

Instead of looking at Aadhaar as a technological “fix” to the problems of welfare delivery systems, we need to focus on a more nuanced approach to administrative reform. The authors investigate use of Aadhaar in Fair Price Shops in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Troubles with Cash Food Subsidy

A pilot project of cash food subsidy to replace the public distribution system in Nagri block of Ranchi district in Jharkhand is analysed to highlight the problems experienced by Jharkhand in implementation of cash food subsidy through the direct benefit transfer system in the PDS. Further, the limitations of cash transfer as a means to replace the PDS are highlighted as also the infrastructural and institutional constraints to impose digitalisation in rural Indian conditions.

What Is the Effective Delivery Mechanism of Food Support in India?

The public distribution system is the cornerstone of anti-poverty initiatives in India to address the issue of hunger and malnutrition, but is plagued with leakages and corruption. Though several possible reasons account for these problems, one factor that is generally overlooked is the lack of assessment of the preference of the beneficiaries in terms of product portfolio, selection, and delivery mechanisms. Through a mixed methods analysis across Bihar, Odisha and (eastern) Uttar Pradesh, this paper assesses the factors explaining the diversity in the preference for the delivery mechanism. What would be a straightforward choice problem among delivery mechanisms turns out to be far more intricate when mediated by contextual heterogeneity and unequal power relations at different levels. The results highlight the centrality of demand and build a case for demand assessment in improving the effectiveness of the system.

Millets in the Indian Plate

Millets can play a role in providing nutrition security as they are rich in various macro and micronutrients, and can help to fight various non-communicable diseases. Hence, a suggestion was made to include them in the basket of goods provided through the public distribution system. The findings of this article suggest that, with the present level of production, millets can be provided in some states of India which have culturally grown as well as consumed them. However, scaling this policy to the national level may not be possible unless rigorous measures are undertaken to improve production as well as consumer acceptability.

Aadhaar Failures: A Tragedy of Errors

Several instances of practical difficulties that people across India have faced in accessing welfare schemes show the magnitude of the problems inherent in the Aadhaar project.

Credibility and Portability?

Examining the Centralised Online Real-time Electronic Public Distribution System reforms introduced by the Government of Chhattisgarh to understand the processes and conditions under which such reforms strengthen accountability and affect the delivery of public services, it is found that while earlier reforms have been successful, the contribution of CORE PDS has been useful but limited. A significant finding was that technological fixes for social protection programmes are only feasible insofar as they work within the political logic of the context in question. CORE PDS reforms could not address the issues of power imbalances between shop owners and cardholders which continue to shape interactions between them. Introducing transparency, accountability and quasi-market reforms in this context offered limited possibilities in what they could achieve.

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