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GIS yet to be part of food security in India

New Delhi, India: To address the food security issue in India, regardless of its plausibility, the food subsidy in the Budget 2011-12 is INR 60,573 crore. However, it merely covers food grain. In addition, there are four major schemes for food security in the country. Unfortunately none of the schemes is on GIS platform, observed Professor Indira Rajaraman from Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi, India. A GIS database will enable policy makers to assess the present spatial pattern of schemes like the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS).

Talking about the draft of India’s Food Security Bill, Prof Rajaraman, said that the surprising feature of the debate on the Bill is its exclusive focus on food subsidy, without embedding that subsidy in the larger set of Central schemes for subsidised or direct provision of food.

Talking about major schemes for food security, she said most of the schemes involve direct transfer of foodgrain, along with other foodstuffs and medicines, but to designated groups, not to households. The ICDS of the Central Plan, for pre-school children and pregnant and lactating mothers, has a budgetary provision of INR 10,000 crore, with foodgrain and nutritional supplements at its core, but covering much else besides, including salaries at its ‘anganwadi’ centres.

The mid-day meal scheme (MDM) of the Central Plan, now covering school children up to class eight, involves transfer of foodgrain, with a supplementary fund flow to state governments for meal preparation costs, budgeted at INR 10,380 crore. The National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) for the elderly, a scheme in the State Plan sector, has an Annapurna food component, and gets INR 6,107 crore from the Centre. These three food security schemes for targeted groups together get INR 26,487 crore.

The fourth food security scheme is operated through rural households. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) is a wage and 100-workday guarantee on public works. It is an income transfer to those willing to self-select into manual work on public projects, budgeted at INR 39,974 crore.

Source: Business Standard