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Will the crucial Food Bill be passed?

posted Nov 24, 2011, 10:17 AM by Puneet Goyal
23 Nov 2011, 0849 hrs IST, TIMES NOW

It's a bill that could be UPA two's big legislation. The Food Security Bill that promises that nobody in India's goes to sleep without food

Its a very important aspect of the initiative of UPA 2. Its a game changer. Its a social mindset changer. Its an economic mindset changer. Only thing is, there is no question of it being necessary in principle. The only question is some details and on that we are still open. The object is to cover the maximum number of people. But equally the object is to ensure that you don't make the burden so heavy that the economy sits down, said Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manusinghvi.

But this bill also threatens to send the government's annual subsidy bill ballooning.

The winter session of Parliament will be tested once the Food Security bill is introduced in the House. The government which is already under immense financial strain will need more than a push to get this through as this could actually cause the subsidy expenditure of the Exchequer to cross a hundred thousand crore mark.

Despite having the backing of the UPA chairperson the move to make subsidised food an entitlement for the poor could run into Opposition.

Politburo Member, CPI(M), Sitaram Yechury said, On the Food Security Bill we are very clear that food security can only be provided as a universal concept. You cannot have targeted food security and therefore we are saying to every family in India. APL or BPL, make available 30 kilos of food grains at rupees 2 a kilo and those who are very rich who do not want to use this facility because of the quality of the grain. Whatever maybe the reason they will not. Today the government is thinking of a bill on the lines of what the National Advisory Council has suggested, which it claims covers 90 percent of India's people leaving aside those 10 percent and working out an elaborate exercise and putting in place an elaborate administrative framework to deliver that exercise.

Yechury added, I think if you do a cost benefit analysis, it will benefit the country more to just include the other 10 percent and make it universal and everywhere in the world its only a universal food security system that works. Targeted never works and I think that is the direction in which we want the bill to be and for that we would make our suggestions and if necessary amendments. Universal or targeted, those maybe academic details but the real test for the Food Security Bill will have to be passed in Parliament.