The greatest gift one can give to mankind is selfless love and care
for the poor and the hungry. For a government, providing
people the Right to Food is not an act of charity, it's a fundamental
Here at Congress, we take this responsibility to our nation's most
vulnerable citizens very seriously.
If even a single Indian has to go hungry, it means our work is not
done. It's our duty to bring all Indians access to food at prices they
can afford. That's why we brought the National Food Security Act.
Through this legislation, we have ensured that 81 crore of our people
(67 per cent of our population) are now getting food grains at highly
subsidised rates - rates that are more manageable for more people.
The Act is a phenomenal achievement by any standard and is among the
largest social welfare schemes in the world. The beneficiaries of the
National Food Security Act are getting wheat at Rs 2 per kg, rice at
Rs 3 per kg, and coarse grain at Rs 1 per kg.
The Right to Food works to ensure that no Indian goes to sleep hungry and increases the general well being of a nation. It's essential to our progress and prosperity.
Our adversaries termed the legislation a "poll gimmick." They tried
everything in their capacity to ensure that the Food Security Bill was
not passed. They stooped to narrow-minded nitpicking. They claimed
that the scheme was "unfeasible" and would be a "drain" on the
But that did not deter us. Our eyes were set on our goal. Our spirit
was beautifully expressed by Congress President Sonia Gandhi who said,
"The question is not whether we have enough resources or not and
whether it would benefit the farmers or not. We have to arrange
resources for it. We have to do it."
The opposition's argument that the Food Security Act would be a burden also lacked a valid basis. The strength of the legislation was not in spending more, but in spending more effectively.
Under the Food Security Act, the average subsidy being provided by the
government is around Rs. 1,24,000 crore (for 62 million tonnes), which
is only 1.2% of our GDP. Before the Food Security Act, we were already
giving a 1 per cent food subsidy, but the Act made these efforts more
effective by streamlining the distribution of food grains through the
Public Distribution and cutting down losses.
Today, the percentage of households accessing food-grains from the PDS
[EL1] has gone up from 28 per cent (2004-05) to 44 per cent (2011-12).
The Food Security Act is an incredible step forward, but our work
continues. We will never stop our efforts to ensure no Indian goes to