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  • 08 August, 2022

  • 10 Min Read



The National Food Security Act (NFSA) beneficiaries numbering 70 lakh have recently been discovered by the Union government to be questionable.

Key Points

  • Nearly 70 lakh beneficiaries were recently identified as suspects following a similar process, and the data has now once again been forwarded to the relevant states for on-the-ground verification.
  • States removed or cancelled 4.74 crore ration cards between 2013 and 2021.
  • This would mean that 19 crore beneficiaries would have been removed and replaced with new beneficiaries.
  • The biggest number of the 4.74 crore ration cards deleted/cancelled, 1.73 crores, was in Uttar Pradesh, according to a state-by-state review of the data.
  • West Bengal (68.62 lakh ration cards cancelled), Maharashtra (42.66 lakh), Karnataka (30.09 lakh), and Rajasthan were next in line (22.66 lakh).
  • Under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) of 2013, 81.35 crore people can be covered across the country. As per Food Ministry data, the current NFSA coverage stands at 79.74 crores.
  • About 1.58 crore people can still be covered under the NFSA.

National Food Security Act

  • The National Food Security Act 2013, now governs the Public Distribution System (PDS) (NFSA).
  • This law covers the Public Distribution System, the Integrated Child Development Services Program, and the Midday Meal Program. The NFSA 2013 also acknowledges the benefits of maternity leave.
  • According to demographic projections from the 2011 Census, the Act covers close to two-thirds of the whole population of the nation.
  • Under two categories, Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) families and Priority Households, 50% of the urban population and 75% of the rural population are eligible to receive substantially subsidised food grains (PHH).
  • State/UT, The former Planning Commission, which is now NITI Aayog, decides on wise coverage based on the NSSO's 2011–12 Household Consumption Expenditure Survey. For the purpose of identifying beneficiaries, many states use information from the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC).
  • According to the Act, Antyodaya Anna Yojana households are entitled to 35 kg of food grains each month, while Priority Households are only entitled to 5 kg of food grains per person.
  • For the purposes of distributing ration cards, the recipient household's eldest lady (18 years or older) is referred to as the "Head of Family."


  • The federal and state governments are given joint responsibility under the National Food Security Act of 2013.
  • In accordance with the National Food Security Act of 2013, the center is in charge of allocating and delivering food grains to specified depots in the states and UTs.
  • Additionally, the center must coordinate with states and UTs to distribute food grains from authorized FCI godowns to the doors of Fair Price Shops.
  • Identifying eligible households, issuing ration cards, distributing foodgrains entitlements through fair price shops, licencing and overseeing Fair Price Shop (FPS) dealers, establishing an efficient grievance redress mechanism, and bolstering the Targeted Public Distribution System are all tasks that fall under the purview of the states and union territories (TPDS).
  • The National Food Security Act of 2013 also contains provisions for targeted improvements to the public distribution system, such as cash transfers for the supply of food benefits.
  • The monetary equivalent of the subsidy is deposited directly into the bank accounts of qualified households under a policy known as direct benefit transfer, which was first implemented in the union territories of Chandigarh and Puducherry.


  • This Act offers provisions for the security of food and nutrition in the context of the human life cycle.
  • It guarantees that people have access to a sufficient supply of wholesome food at affordable costs so they can lead respectable lives, as well as items associated with or incidental to that.


  • It is advantageous for the agricultural industry.
  • Additionally, it aids in keeping food prices under control.
  • Growth in the agricultural sector would provide additional jobs because agriculture is a labour-intensive industry.
  • This would increase economic growth and decrease poverty.
  • The general health of the populace would increase if nutritious food was available.
  • For the stability and security of the country on a global scale, food security is equally crucial.
  • The Indian Constitution does not specifically address the right to eat.
  • Before the NFSA, Article 21's fundamental right to life was read to also encompass the right to a dignified existence, which might include the right to food and other essentials of life.


  • According to Census 2011, which totalled 81.35 crore, people, the NFSA, approved in 2013, allows for the delivery of subsidized foodgrains through ration shops to up to 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population.
  • The National Family Security Act (NFSA) is currently in effect in all states and union territories, with a target coverage of 81.35 crore persons nationwide.
  • Nearly 79 crore recipients received 25,26 LMT (Lakh Metric Tonnes) of food grains under the NFSA in January 2022.


  • The Act primarily discusses hunger and how to end it, but it neglects to address the negative effects of undernutrition and how to end it.
  • India's biggest issue, malnutrition, cannot be resolved by simply establishing a public distribution system. Along with ensuring the availability of food, the distribution also includes key components for cleanliness, healthcare, and water.
  • Therefore, it is important that the Act include both the right to food and the right to nutrition.
  • Many localities have not yet benefited from anganwadis, and their coverage is sometimes inadequate. It is difficult to imagine how the Act's advantages would be realized in the absence of adequate resources.
  • The Farmer's Union also opposed the Act, arguing that it would nationalize agriculture by forcing the Government to acquire, sell, and hoard the majority of agricultural output.
  • The Act also permits private entities to participate in the supply chain, allowing for profit-making and dishonest business activities. The Public Distribution System's leaks and corrupt practices in the supply chain are another barrier to the Act's effective operation.
  • According to the Act, access to the right to food is prohibited during natural disasters and war. When it is most needed, the right to food will not be provided to states that are extremely susceptible to natural calamities.


The National Food Security Act of 2013 is a significant step in the right direction, but it shouldn't be the only one taken to solve the nation's food poverty and hunger. In order to accomplish its objective, it needs to be restructured and new improvements must be incorporated in a number of areas. To help achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger by 2030, the Center will work in tandem with the states to implement the Act as effectively as possible.

Source: PIB

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