Analysing a ‘masterstroke’: Modi govt cuts food allocation for the poor

On Saturday 31 December 2022, the Narendra Modi government issued a notice of a ‘new scheme’ to provide 81.35 billion beneficiaries with free food grains under the NFSA towards 2023. and the Press Information Bureau (PIB). This is “according to the decision taken by the cabinet led by Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi,” the PIB said.

At the same time, Pradhan Mantri Gharib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) was providing 5 kg of food cereals to 800 million poor Indians free of charge until 31 December 2022. Food grains provided free to 81.35 billion people (NFSA),” Minister of Food and Public Distribution Piyush Goyal previously said.The total bill for free food grains under NFSA is It is estimated at around 2 billion rupees.

Goyal said the decision to provide food grains for free under the NFSA “removes the financial burden on the poor and the poorest” and shows “the prime minister’s sensitivity to the beneficiaries of the welfare system”. said to show. As if out of habit, he called it a “historic decision”.

READ ALSO | Can Narendra Modi’s popularity sell a cut in the center’s food rations?

This decision may not be “historic”, but it is definitely a “masterstroke” of sorts. It brought good press to the government and further boosted Modi’s image. One is to withdraw all schemes.

Until December, priority category ration cardholders received 5 kg of food grain at a subsidized rate under NFSA. Coarse Grains like Vajra at 3/kg, Wheat at Rs 2/kg and Re 1/kg – 5 kg free at PMGKAY. They said he would get 5 kg under NFSA and would not have to pay, but would not be able to get the extra 5 kg he was getting under PMGKAY. Their food grain quota is now halved from 10 kg to 5 kg.

As for the government, under PMGKAY, we are saving all the money we used to spend on food grains. The amount to be paid is 3 rupees per kg of rice, 2 rupees per kg of wheat and 1 rupee per kg of coarse grains. Even taking the high price tag of Rs 3 with 5 kg of food grains per person comes to Rs 15 per person. At this rate, the government will cost him 80000000000000000000000000000000000000 Rs.

For this Rs 1.2 crore cost for free food grains under NFSA, the government will save the full amount it was spending under PMGKAY. In a written response to Lok Sabha, Minister of Food and Consumer Affairs Piyush Goyal said the government has spent a total of Rs 3.91 lakh on food cereals under his PMGKAY since it was introduced in March 2020. said. INR 1,318.5 billion in 2020-21, INR 1,472.12 billion in 2021-22 and INR 1,30,600 in 2022-23, and have been phased out since December.

The Modi government has earned credit for providing free food to the poor and those in need, but it has been cut from some state governments despite saving money by reducing food quotas. , robbed them of the political gains they were getting. They only had to pay 3 rupees per kg of rice, 2 rupees per kg of wheat and 1 rupee per kg of coarse grains. Food is now provided free of charge by the centre.

Another aspect to keep in mind is that while the population is growing and according to some estimates, the quotas of those covered have not been updated for more than a decade, so the scheme’s The fact is that the population covered below does not cover all the poor. Number of people below the poverty line.

Even the quota of 5 kg per person is considered insufficient by many. Even Modi, who was the prime minister of Gujarat state, lashed out at it. This is what he had to say:

“I am also keenly aware that the Food Security Ordinance does not guarantee individuals two meals a day. I do not understand how individuals are guaranteed food security. The right to 5 kg per person per month provides only 165 gm per person per day.According to the NIN 2009 recommendations, a person engaged in labor-intensive activities needs approximately 2,500 calories per day.100 gm food grains provide about 350 calories, so 165 gm provides only 500 calories per day. Nor are we talking about nutritional security, which is the main purpose of food security. If providing is for the purposes of the Ordinance.”

But things have changed. The boot is on the other leg.

(Rajesh Sinha is a journalist)

Disclaimer: The views above are those of the author. They don’t necessarily reflect his DH views.

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