India should not allow one emergency — the pandemic — to turn into another. Food security problems are not abating and there are clear steps that should be taken before it is too late.
In the early days of India’s lockdown, stories of food insecurity were rampant. As “Unlock 2.0” progresses, many analysts hope that labour markets will provide the much needed economic resources to the vulnerable. But amidst a range of localised lockdown measures, immediate economic distress continues to persist. The Centre and state governments need to expand the ambit of food transfer programmes and bolster policies that target people most at risk of malnutrition.
There is sound policy that can be built on. The Central government has extended the provision of extra rations of five kg of wheat/rice and one kg of pulses through November, making good use of its abundant grain stocks. Many state governments have stepped in to fill gaps — Bihar’s recent expansion of rations and transfers to school children is one such example. And, a good monsoon points to the potential for bumper crops.
Yet, our analysis of data from several surveys and previous research suggests the persistence of food insecurity, especially among economically and socially disadvantaged groups. View Full Article