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The human right to food has its contemporary origin within the U.N. Universal Human Rights framework. The main reference point is located within the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights (UDHR) (U.N. 1948), Article 25, which states, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food.” It provided a reference point for human rights legislation that followed but is not itself a binding international legal instrument

According to the Special Report- Right To Food Is A Basic Human Right

This is a special Hunger Notes report on the right to food. Why shouldn't people have enough food, earned in the usual case by working,  to keep themselves alive and alert?  A very reasonable goal, but one which is far from being met, though there has been significant progress in the past 10 years.  This report examines both the progress and the frustrations. 

Under-nutrition,haunts the lives of millions of Indian .The magnitude and severity of the nutritional crisis facing the country.Over a million deaths can be attributed to under-nutrition and hunger.Most of the times, child deaths and suffering because of poor nutrition go unnoticed.India reports among the highest levels of child under-nutrition has been rightly termed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a “national shame”.According to a recent United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimate, India accounts for 31 per cent of the developing world’s children who are stunted and 42 per cent of those who are underweight.There are various reasons why India should do something about food security specially child under-nutrition. Being well-nourished is the right of every child, and the state has the obligation to ensure proper nutrition for all children. Undernourished children have significantly lower chances of survival than children who are well-nourished. They are much more prone to serious infections and to die from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea, measles, malaria, pneumonia, and HIV and AIDS. The risk of dying increases with the severity of the under-nutrition. If recent indicators are anything to go by – the failure to keep food prices down, the proposed national food security Act, the failure to ensure even minimum wages to construction workers at projects for the upcoming Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, to recount a few – it seems the country has given up even the pretence of caring about its children or their crippling, unbudging state of malnutrition.

The state of women’s health and food security is similarly symbolised by an equally recalcitrant and even more widespread nutritional anaemia. This is a failure in itself as far as women’s rights are concerned, but it is also the root cause of low birthweight, subsequent malnutrition and poor child survival. 

How serious is the United Progressive Alliance government about enacting food security legislation that gives every citizen in the country the right to adequate food? On the face of it, the government appears to be extremely serious. After all, ensuring the right to food was a major election promise of the Congress party that leads the UPA; it has been frequently mentioned in various official pronouncements of this government; and it was mentioned prominently in the latest Budget speech of the Finance Minister.

Most recently, a draft Food Security Bill that has purportedly been prepared for consideration by the Empowered Group of Ministers has been doing the rounds unofficially. While the authenticity of this document is not clear, it is nevertheless worth examining, just in case it provides any pointers to the current thinking of the government on this crucial matter.Thus, the “Preamble” declares that this is an Act “to provide statutory framework for assured food security to all citizens of India to promote their active and healthy life thereby enabling them to contribute productively to nation building”. This sweeping statement is clearly not legally tenable, since none of the important terms and concepts are defined, such as “assured food security”, nor is it clarified how it will be determined that citizens “contribute productively to nation building”!

The proposed Food Security Bill adopts Three pronged strategy that constitutes -

(i)  a universal public distribution system for all,

(ii) low cost food grains to the needy

(iii) convergence in the delivery of nutrition safety net programmes. 

Based on article,21 of the Constitution, the  Supreme Court has regarded the right to food as a fundamental  and basic human requirements for the right of life.In the spirit of the numerous measures and programmes, the number of persons who are undernourished has increased from 210 million in 1990- 92 to 252 million in 2004-05. The Food Security Bill, when enacted, will become the most important step taken after 1947.

In other words, the population as a whole is supposed to be given food security as a legal entitlement (although how this is to be done is not clear) but public provision of foodgrains is only for a targeted section defined as poor. The rest of the document makes it clear that the purpose is really to abandon a comprehensive and universal system of public food distribution and then replace it with a targeted system. In that system, only those defined as poor by State governments on the basis of total numbers to be determined by the Centre, will have access to publicly distributed food grains, presumably at a subsidised rate.  

The entire focus of the operational part of the proposed Act is on the targeted public distribution system [TPDS], which will provide foodgrains to households identified as living below the poverty line (BPL). The total number of such households is to be determined by the Central Ministry of Food and Public Distribution on the basis of the latest available poverty estimates notified by the Planning Commission, with such estimates remaining valid for a period of five years.


The most significant direct intervention designed by India to tackle under-nutrition is the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme. Most reviews and assessments have established that the more than 30-year-old programme has not succeeded in delivering the desired result of preventing and eliminating under-nutrition. This is what prompted the Prime Minister in his Independence Day address in 2008 to remark: “The problem of malnutrition is a curse that we must remove.

I would like to edit this once more to add some thing new, but what I can say right now is that the question on food security and the failure of the pragammes and measures lies in the same question only.    

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