Acclaimed as a revolutionary initiative, the National Food Security Act, 2013, is no doubt, the biggest-ever experiment in the world for distributing highly subsidized food by any government through a ‘rights-based’ approach. The Act extends coverage of the Targeted Public Distribution System, India’s principal domestic food aid programme, to two thirds of the population, or about 820 million people. It was perhaps the single-handed persistence and unstinting efforts of the-then Union Minister of State for Food and Public Distribution Prof. K V Thomas that culminated in the smooth passing of the Bill, a dream project of the Congress leadership and especially of its president Sonia Gandhi. In an exclusive interview to Safety Messenger, Prof. Thomas speaks at length on the salient features and the long-term impact of the Act, which is likely to create the world’s largest-ever welfare scheme. Excerpts…
The National Food Security Act, 2013, was a path-breaking initiative taken by the Central Government when you were the Food Minister. What were the challenges you faced in drafting and enacting it? In addition, what were your priorities in drafting the Bill?
The Food Security Bill was a dream project of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. It was because of her initiative that this Bill was included in the election manifesto of the Congress and the UPA. The main crux of this project is that food is becoming a right of the people and not a social obligation of any government.
(Subscribe & Read the full part of this interview in the December issue of Safety Messenger Magazine)