Shift to upscaling food rationing now
Stefanus - by Stefanus -, 3 years ago
Shift to upscaling food rationing now

Two days ago, the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a 1.7-lakh crore package of social security measures to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic in the period of the 21-day lockdown. In respect of food security, the package falls far short of what is needed. I argue that we need to immediately ensure universal rationing with an expanded food basket, and special measures for cooked food in urban areas for the vulnerable population.

The burden of the current lockdown is borne disproportionately by the large unorganised workforce, comprising hundreds of millions of casual daily wage-workers and self-employed workers. India already holds the record for the largest number of malnourished persons in the world. As their ability to purchase food diminishes, a growing population of working people and their families will soon enter a phase of hunger and undernourishment. The answer to this looming and very real scenario of food insecurity lies in a massive programme of food rationing, far greater than what the Finance Minister has promised.

Lessons from history

To ensure that all people have access to adequate food in the midst of this unprecedented health and economic crisis with potentially high levels of mortality, we must immediately expand our food security system. Before I come to the components of such an expanded programme, let us briefly look at the lessons provided by the experience of other countries in using rationing in times of scarcity.