#India – Cash transfers are bad for food security


MADHAVI CHERIAN, The Hindu 

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SILO TO BAG: The government’s decision to promote cash transfers in the National Food Security Bill ignores crucial lessons from India’s past at a time when it needs to intervene on both the demand and supply sides to ensure food security for every citizen. Photo: M. Govarthan

The stabilising effect of the Public Distribution System on prices will be lost as beneficiary households turn to the market for their needs

India’s hard won gains in achieving food security are in danger of being undermined by a clause in the National Food Security Bill that encourages States to adopt cash transfers in lieu of food entitlements under the Public Distribution System (PDS). Supporting this view, a recent report by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) concluded that the provision of food subsidies in the form of cash would save the government crores of rupees. Additionally, cash transfers will supposedly eliminate middlemen such as dealers and transporters, ensuring that the subsidy reaches intended beneficiaries.

Cash transfers are a solution only if we view the PDS in isolation, rather than as part of a larger food policy. India’s food policy begins with the procurement of rice and wheat and price support operations by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and the CACP. Each State is entitled to purchase a certain amount of food grains from the FCI at subsidised prices for distribution through its Fair Price (Ration) Shops. It is this distribution end that constitutes the PDS, and what the cash transfers would replace.

Besides not taking into account the devaluing effect of inflation or the role of intrahousehold dynamics when it comes to cash transfers, its supporters do not specify what would happen to the agricultural commodities that are procured by the FCI. As the policy exists today, the government holds millions of tons of rice and wheat, well above the buffer norms required by law. To reduce its stocks, the government has preferred open market operations (to bulk consumers) and export to distribution through the PDS.

Experiments with decontrol

Using those actions as an indicator of the government’s policy orientation, cash transfers arguably are a gateway to greater deregulation of the food market. Relying on cash transfers alone would mean that the beneficiary households would have to turn to the market to meet all their food needs. More importantly, the stabilising effect that the PDS has on consumption and prices would be lost. Cash transfers thus are only a partial substitute to the PDS.

To understand the importance of a broad food policy, we only have to look at India’s brief experiments with decontrol. The government’s policy reaction to the Bengal famine of 1943, which led to the death of 1.5 million people, provides us with a primer of what not to do in a famine situation. At first, there was a complete laissez-faire policy towards food grain trade, which led to hoarding by traders, farmers and consumers. Subsequently, the provincial governments introduced a policy of procurement and distribution of food grains, which failed miserably as they did not have the requisite infrastructure to implement the policy. For example, grains were rotting in Calcutta, the centre of distribution in the eastern region, as the government had not made arrangements to handle incoming stocks. To avoid what was called a “tragedy in unpreparedness,” the government took steps towards setting up a comprehensive food administration, including procurement by the government, the building of buffer stocks and the introduction of rationing.

However, soon after Independence, India abandoned these policies on the insistence of Gandhiji, who by then had started chanting the following prayer, “Controls give rise to fraud, suppression of truth, intensification of the black market and to artificial scarcity. Above all, it (they) unmans the people and deprives them of initiative; it undoes the teaching of self help, they have been learning for generations, makes them spoon-fed.” Shortly thereafter, droughts and floods led to insufficient production, food shortages and price rise. Controls in the form of rationing, price control and distribution had to be reintroduced in March 1949 to deal with the adverse food situation.

The next phase of free markets in food was under the Food Minister, Rafi Ahmed Kidwai, beginning 1952. Improved food grains production in 1953 and 1954 led to declining prices and a temporary break from chronic shortages. Government procurement of food grains was stopped and restrictions on the movement of grains were removed. Paradoxically, even as farmers faced deflationary conditions, there were shortages and price rise in various parts of the country. The instability in prices, combined with adverse weather in the autumn of 1955, had a dampening effect on production.

In 1957, the Ashok Mehta-led Food Grains Enquiry Committee concluded that an expanded money supply, growing industrialisation and urbanisation and increased investment led to enhanced purchasing power. On the other hand, hoarding by traders, producers and consumers as well as speculative activities in anticipation of public investment by the government led to a rise in prices. Additionally, it found that prices were allowed to fall too low in 1955 and that there was no coordinated policy of combating inflation and shortages that began in 1956.

Back to controls

The government had to reintroduce controls and carry-out price support operations to curb the fall in prices. It opened an additional 10,000 ration shops between October 1956 and September 1957, and released its stocks to combat price rise. This episode underscored the need for the government to intervene in the market to influence prices and output. The Food Grains Enquiry Committee recommended the setting up of institutions like the FCI and the CACP for this purpose. The government’s decision to promote cash transfers in the National Food Security Bill presented in the recently concluded session of Parliament ignores these lessons from India’s past.

Since the 1950s, India has made major strides in agricultural production as evidenced by the large government-held stocks of wheat and rice. However, problems of inadequate nutrition, starvation and double digit food price inflation remain. Strengthening of the PDS, as seen in Chhattisgarh and Tamil Nadu, would serve the purpose of ensuring food security for the nation through stabilising prices, production and consumption. As seen in the past, government withdrawal from the food sector can lead to a decline in production and an increase in hoarding and speculative activity. Unlike the PDS, cash transfers cannot counter the resultant shortages and price rise. In a growing economy like India with constantly increasing demand, the government needs to intervene on both the demand and supply sides to ensure food security for all its citizens.

(Madhavi Cherian is a PhD scholar at the Department of Sociology, New York University.)

 

#India – Food Security Bill is affordable


REETIKA KHERA, The Hindu
The subsidies meant for the poor are always under attack, while the rest are able to retain their privileges.
The additional allocation in grain and money terms will neither distort the grain market nor place a burden on the fisc.
Many recent commentators have portrayed the National Food Security Bill (NFSB) as an “unbearable burden” on the exchequer. The facts, however, do no substantiate the claim.
The NFSB has been trashed from time to time in the English dailies. For instance, Business Line (March 21, 2013) published an article titled “Food Security Bill will torpedo Budget”.
Another national daily claims that the Bill has a “fundamental flaw” that places “an unbearable burden” and “distorts agriculture” (Indian Express, March 19, 2013). Quite often, the claims are partly due to a misconception that the government is making new financial and grain commitments under the NFSB.
In fact, the NFSB does little more than turning into legal entitlements pre-existing food security schemes such as the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme, Mid-Day Meal (MDM) Scheme, Public Distribution System (PDS) and maternity entitlements.
UNJUSTIFIED FEARS
Some commentators have said that it is precisely the legal commitment that will lead to problems in the future — for example, the fear of the emergence of a government monopoly in the grain market. This fear is not borne out by the facts.
Under the PDS, ICDS and MDM, the government currently allocates about 58 million tonnes of grain. To meet this commitment, the government currently procures about 30 per cent of grain. The NFSB commits 62 million tonnes, i.e., an additional 4 million tonnes.
The Budget of 2013-14 allocates Rs. 31,000 crore for two children’s food schemes — school meals and the ICDS which reaches children under six. The Budget allocation for the food subsidy in 2013-14 is Rs 90,000 crore.
According to our estimates, the food subsidy will increase from Rs 80,000 crore (in 2012-13) to Rs 1,11,221 crore, under the NFSB.
Thus, the NFSB implies an increase of just over Rs 30,000 crores in financial terms and 4 million tonnes in real (grain) terms.
Can India afford this? Speaking at a panel discussion at IIT Delhi in February, Deputy Chairperson of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, said “it would be dishonest” to say that we cannot afford the Food Bill, and that the subsidies that we need to target are those enjoyed by the middle classes (e.g., fuel).
Speaking at the same discussion, Amartya Sen made a pertinent point — that the reason why it is more difficult to reduce subsidies enjoyed by the middle classes (fuels such as LPG, petrol and diesel) is that the beneficiaries of those are more vocal than the rural poor or children under six who benefit from the food subsidies.
DOUBLE STANDARDS
This point is well illustrated by the events following last year’s Budget. The Budget 2012-13 announced a 1 per cent excise duty on unbranded jewellery and doubled custom duty on gold to 4 per cent. Gold is the country’s second biggest import, after crude oil. This burden on the current account deficit was an important reason for doubling the customs duty.
Following this, the All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation and others initiated a strike which went on for 21 days. They argued that the industry, including the “large” number of people it employs, and buyers of gold, would suffer. A massive media campaign was launched, following which the Finance Minister withdrew the excise duty.
According to the revenue foregone statement presented along with the Budget 2013-14, the revenue foregone from the gold and diamond industry for the previous financial year was Rs. 65,000 crore.
Such tax breaks are often justified on the grounds of the employment potential of the gems and jewellery industry. According to Invest India, a website of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, “The sector provides employment to around 1.8 million people. In the next five years, the sector is expected to create additional employment for around 1.1 million people.”
According to the National Sample Survey Organisation, 2009-10, the size of the Indian workforce is between 430-471 million persons. If the gems and jewellery industry employs 3 million people as per the Ministry’s target, this would be 0.7 per cent of the workforce.
An industry that employs less than one per cent of the Indian workforce is currently enjoying tax benefits amounting to Rs 65,000 crore (nearly 20 per cent of all revenue foregone). The Food Bill will benefit 67 per cent of the population at an additional cost of Rs 30,000 crore, yet it is said that it will “torpedo” the Budget.
NOT ENOUGH
If anything, the NFSB does not go far enough. The NFSB tabled in Parliament in December 2011 included special provisions for the destitute and other vulnerable groups (e.g., community kitchens and social security pensions).
These have been discarded in the version cleared by Cabinet on March 19, 2013. In many rural areas, the Block is already too far to go to complain, yet for violations of rights under the NFSB, grievance redressal only begins at the District level.
Viewed in this comparative perspective (for example, it is approximately 1 per cent of the GDP), few can question the affordability or desirability of the NFSB. In absolute terms it is not a small amount. One might argue whether such expenditure is worth it, given the “fact” that the programmes in its ambit, for example, the PDS, are “dysfunctional” (Indian Express, March 19, 2013).
However, recent data from the National Sample Survey of 2004-05 and 2009-10 suggest that while the functioning of the PDS is far from perfect, we do need to update our “facts”. In joint research with Jean Drèze, we show that the implicit subsidy from the PDS eliminates 18 per cent (14 per cent) of the “poverty gap” — or the difference between the poverty line level of income and the median income (or monthly per capita consumption expenditure) of poor households — among poor rural (urban) households.
Again, there are marked inter-State contrasts — in Tamil Nadu the corresponding figure is 60 per cent and in Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh it is nearly 40 per cent.
The real question then is not whether India can afford to have a right to food but as the Food Minister said in a recent interview, “Can we afford not to?”
(The author teaches economics at IIT, Delhi.)

 

#India – summary of the National Food Security Bill, 2013


March 24, 2013

1. Preliminaries

The Bill seeks “to provide for food and nutritional security in human life cycle approach, by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people to live a life with dignity and for matters connected therwith and incidental thereto”.

It extends to the whole of India and “shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette appoint, and different dates may be appointed for different States and different provisions of this Act”.

2. Entitlements

Public Distribution System (TPDS)

Priority households are entitled to 5 kgs of foodgrains per person per month, and Antyodaya households to 35 kgs per household per month. The combined coverage of Priority and Antyodaya households (called “eligible households”) shall extend “up to 75% of the rural population and up to 50% of the urban population”.

The PDS issue prices are given in Schedule I: Rs 3/2/1 for rice/wheat/millets (actually called “coarse grains” in the Bill). These may be revised after three years.

Children’s Entitlements

For children in the age group of 6 months to 6 years, the Bill guarantees an age-appropriate meal, free of charge, through the local anganwadi. For children aged 6-14 years, one free mid-day meal shall be provided every day (except on school holidays) in all schools run by local bodies, government and government aided schools, up to Class VIII. For children below six months, “exclusive breastfeeding shall be promoted”.

Children who suffer from malnutrition will be identified through the local anganwadi and meals will be provided to them free of charge “through the local anganwadi”.

Entitlements of Pregnant and Lactating Women

Every pregnant and lactating mother is entitled to a free meal at the local anganwadi (during pregnancy and six months after child birth) as well as maternity benefits of Rs 6,000, in instalments.

[Notes: (1) “Meal” is defined in the Bill as “hot cooked meal or ready to eat meal or take home ration, as may be prescribed by the Central Government”. All “meals” have to meet nutritional norms specified in Schedule II. (2) The entitlements of women and children are to be delivered by state governments through schemes “in accordance with the guidelines, including cost sharing” to be prescribed by the Central Government. (3) Every school and anganwadi is to have “facilities for cooking meals, drinking water and sanitation”. (4) For purposes of issuing ration cards, the eldest woman in the household (not less than 18 years of age) shall be considered head of the household.]

3. Identification of Eligible Households

The Bill does not specify criteria for the identification of households (Priority or Antyodaya) eligible for PDS entitlements. The Central Government is to determine the state-wise coverage of the PDS, in terms of proportion of the rural/urban population. Then numbers of eligible persons will be calculated from Census population figures. The identification of eligible households is left to state governments, subject to the scheme’s guidelines for Antyodaya, and subject to guidelines to be “specified” by the state government for Priority households. The lists of eligible households are to be placed in the public domain and “displayed prominently” by state governments.

4. Food Commissions

The Bill provides for the creation of State Food Commissions. Each Commission shall consist of a chairperson, five other members and a member-secretary (including at least two women and one member each from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes).

The main function of the State Commission is to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the act, give advice to the states governments and their agencies, and inquire into violations of entitlements (either suo motu or on receipt of a complaint, and with “all the powers of a civil court while trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure 1908”). State Commissions also have to hear appeals against orders of the District Grievance Redressal Officer and prepare annual reports to be laid before the state legislature.

The State Commission may forward “any case” to a Magistrate having jurisdiction, who shall proceed as if the case has been forwarded under Section 346 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973.

5. Transparency and Grievance Redressal

The Bill provides for a two-tier grievance redressal structure, involving the District Grievance Redressal Officer (DGRO) and State Food Commission. State governments must also put in place an internal grievance redressal mechanism which may include call centres, help lines, designation of nodal officers, “or such other mechanisms as may be prescribed”.

Transparency Provisions

Mandatory transparency provisions include: (1) placing all PDS-related records in the public domain and keeping them open for inspection to the public; (2) conducting periodic social audits of the PDS and other welfare schemes; (3) using information and communication technology (including end-to-end computerisation of the PDS) “to ensure transparent recording of transactions at all levels”; (4) setting up vigilance committees at state, district, block and fair price shop levels to supervise all schemes under the act.

District Grievance Redressal Officers

DGROS shall be appointed by state governments for each district to hear complaints and take necessary action according to norms to be prescribed by state governments. If a complainant (or the officer or authority against whom an order has been passed by the DGRO) is not satisfied, he or she may file an appeal before the State Food Commission.

Penalties and Compensation

The Food Commissions have powers to impose penalties. If an order of the DGRO is not complied with, the concerned authority or officer can be fined up to Rs. 5,000. The Commission can authorise “any of its members” to act as an adjudicating officer for this purpose.

In case of “non-supply of the entitled quantities of foodgrains or meals to entitled persons”, such persons will be entitled to a food security allowance from the state government, as prescribed by the central government.

6. Other Provisions

PDS Reforms

In Chapter VII, the Bill states that central and state governments “shall endeavour to progressively undertake” various PDS reforms, including: doorstep delivery of foodgrains; ICT applications and end-to-end computerisation; leveraging “aadhaar” (UID) for unique identification of entitled beneficiaries; full transparency of records; preference to public institutions or bodies in licensing of fair price shops; management of fair price shops by women or their collectives; diversification of commodities distributed under the PDS; full transparency of records; and “introducing schemes such as cash transfer, food coupons or other schemes to the targeted beneficiaries in lieu of their foodgrain entitlements” as prescribed by the central government.

Obligations of Government and Local Authorities

The main obligation of the Central Government is to provide foodgrains (or, failing that, funds) to state governments, at prices specified in Schedule I, to implement the main entitlements. It also has to “provide assistance” to state governments to meet local distribution costs, but on its own terms (“as may be prescribed”). The Central Government has wide-ranging powers to make Rules.

The main obligation of state governments is to implement the relevant schemes, in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Central Government. State governments also have wide-ranging powers to make Rules. They are free to extend benefits and entitlements beyond what is prescribed in the Bill, from their own resources.

Local Authorities and Panchayati Raj Institutions are responsible for proper implementation of the act in their respective areas, and may be given additional responsibilities by notification.

7. Schedules

The Bill has three schedules (these can be amended “by notification”). Schedule 1 prescribes issue prices for the PDS. Schedule 2 prescribes “nutritional standards” for midday meals, take-home rations and related entitlements. For instance, take-home rations for children aged 6 months to 3 years should provide at least 500 calories and 12-15 grams of protein. Schedule 3 lists various “provisions for advancing food security”, under three broad headings: (1) revitalization of agriculture (e.g. agrarian reforms, research and development, remunerative prices), (2) procurement, storage and movement of foodgrains (e.g. decentralised procurement), and (3) other provisions (e.g. drinking water, sanitation, health care, and “adequate pensions” for “senior citizens, persons with disability and single women”).

 

PRESS RELEASE- Urgent actions regarding Health services and Food security in Maharashtra


Anna Adhikar Abhiyan (AAA) is a network of about 100 organizations across Maharashtra, campaigning on the right to food security and sovereignty while Jan Arogya Abhiyan(JAA) is the state level campaign platform working for Health rights of people in Maharashtra since over a decade.

AAA and JAA are jointly organizing a protest demonstration on 22nd March, 2013 at Azad Maidan, Mumbai, in collaboration with Anna Adhikar Abhiyan to press for urgent action on important policy demands regarding Health services and Food security in Maharashtra. Around 2000 people from various parts of the state including Right to Food activists, Health rights activists, health professionals and social activists will be participating in this mass protest and ‘Dharana Andolan’ to demand prompt action on various outstanding policy issues.

          This is to request you to participate in the Dharana Andolan’ on 22ndMarch 2013 at Azad maidan from 1.00 pm to 4.00 pm.
Food Security: Main Demands
1.    Stop Cash Transfers as an alternative to the Pulic Distribution System.
2.    Do not pass a Food Security Act that will in reality dismantle the Public Distribution System.  Pass an effective Food Security Act that will ensure that no one remains hungry.
3.    Reform, Universalise and Strengthen the Public Distribution System.
4.    Fourteen essential items and millets must be distributed   through the PDS
5.    Every card holder to be eligible to obtain twelve subsidised gas cylinders per year.
6.    Stop the entry of foreign companies in retail trade.
Healthcare: Main demands
7.    Adopt a state specific ‘Maharashtra Clinical Establishments Act’ to regulate private hospitals, based on the national act but with inclusion of provisions for protecting Patient’s rights, along with participatory review and grievance redressal mechanisms.
8.    Stop privatisation of radiological services in Medical college and District hospitals.
9.    Overcome gross shortage of essential medicines in all public health facilities by implementing the ‘Tamil Nadu model’ in comprehensive manner at earliest.
10. Strictly and effectively implement the ban on private practice by Govt. doctors, without diluting this order in any manner.

Jan Arogya Abhiyan

(Jan Swasthya Abhiyan – Maharashtra)

 

Press release -

Regulate Private Hospitals, Protect Patient’s Rights By

Enacting Maharashtra Specific Regulatory Act!

Stop privatization of public health services, ensure essential medicines in all public facilities,

End private practice by government doctors!

 

Jan Arogya Abhiyan, the State level campaign platform working for Health rights of people in Maharashtra since over a decade, is organizing a protest demonstration on 22nd March, 2013 at Azad Maidan, Mumbai, in collaboration with Anna Adhikar Abhiyan to press for urgent action on important policy demands regarding Health services and Food security in Maharashtra. Around 2000 people from various parts of the state including Right to Food activists, Health rights activists, health professionals and social activists will be participating in this mass protest and ‘Dharana andolan’ to demand prompt action on various outstanding policy issues. In this press release we are describing the context and demands concerning the Health sector, that are being raised in this joint protest on Food security and Health issues.

 

Jan Arogya Abhiyan’s main demands

  • Adopt a state specific ‘Maharashtra Clinical Establishments Act’ to regulate private hospitals, based on the national act but with inclusion of provisions for protecting Patient’s rights, along with participatory review and grievance redressal mechanisms.
  • Stop privatisation of radiological services in Medical college and District hospitals.
  • Overcome gross shortage of essential medicines in all public health facilities by implementing the ‘Tamil Nadu model’ in comprehensive manner at earliest.
  • Strictly and effectively implement the ban on private practice by Govt. doctors, without diluting this order in any manner.
  1. Adopt a state specific ‘Maharashtra Clinical Establishments Act’ to regulate private hospitals, with inclusion of provisions for participatory regulation and Patient’s rights.

 

More than 80% of patients in Maharashtra seek care in private hospitals and clinics, however this sector is today characterized by large scale commercialization and overcharging, lack of effective self regulation by Medical councils, frequent irrational procedures, and violation of patient’s rights. In this context the national ‘Clinical Establishments Act 2010’ is an important step towards standardization of quality and costs of care. However, if Maharashtra government adopts this act in existing form, then due to certain major lacunae in the national act and rules, its implementation would hardly lead to significant benefits for patients or accountability of private hospitals. Rather in absence of accountability mechanisms and participatory forums, it is likely to promote ‘Babu raj’. Hence JAA demands that certain key improvements must be made in the regulatory framework; this is possible only if Maharashtra government adopts its own state specific Clinical Establishment Act, incorporating various positive features of the national act, and adding key provisions to ensure that Patients’ rights are protected and accountability mechanisms are made functional.

 

Some positive features of the national act, which must be included in the Maharashtra Clinical Establishments Act are:

  1. All private hospitals and clinical establishments (including labs, imaging centres) will have to adopt Standard Treatment Guidelines, and will need to maintain some minimum standards. This would help protect patients from irrational, exploitative treatment and from substandard facilities.
  2. Charges by hospitals will have to be within the range decided by the government, after following consultative process with stakeholders including representatives from doctors. This will check exorbitant charging currently resorted by many doctors.
  3. Clinical establishments will have to display charges for some of the typical main items like consulting charges, room charges etc. This will help patients to know the affordability of each hospital, enabling them to choose hospitals they can afford and have idea in advance of the expected charges.

 

Jan Arogya Abhiyan welcomes these provisions, and stresses that these must be ensured in the regulatory framework. However we also note that the national act and rules have certain major lacunae such as there is no separate, autonomous structure (and dedicated budget) to ensure implementation of the act; there is no mention of Patient’s rights or any kind of grievance redressal mechanism for patients; there are no district level multi-stakeholder review forums with representation of consumers, patients rights groups or civil society organisations. In this situation, the act is not likely to be effectively implemented, patients’ rights in private hospitals would continue to be sidelined, and since there are hardly any accountability mechanisms regarding the regulatory authority, there is likely to be misuse of powers and corruption, instead of promotion of patients welfare.

Jan Arogya Abhiyan holds that the regulatory framework for Clinical establishments should be accountable and participatory, with involvement of relevant stakeholders; and there should be adequate mechanisms to uphold patient’s rights. If Maharashtra wants to adopt this Central Act, it can do so only in totality, without any significant amendments, due to existing constitutional provisions.  However the State government has full constitutional mandate to enact its own health-legislation since health is a state subject. Hence JAA demands the formulation and adoption of a state specific Maharashtra Clinical Establishments Act, based on the current national act but also including provisions for:

  • Deployment of designated additional regulatory structure, staff and budget to ensure proper implementation of this act
  • Recognition and protection of patients rights, with clear redressal mechanisms for patients in case their rights are violated or defined rates, standards, protocols are not observed in practice
  • Multi-stakeholder review bodies at district level, including Patients rights activists and civil society organisations, to ensure accountability and functionality of regulatory authorities

 

  1. Stop privatisation of Radiological services in Medical college and District hospitals!

 

The decision of the Maharashtra Government to privatise radiological services in Medical college and District hospitals is retrogressive and unnecessary. Any existing deficiencies in these services should be remedied through appropriate steps and policy decisions; privatisation is not the answer. Continued provision of X-ray and CT scan facilities in district hospitals and above should not be a problem, since radiologists and other technical human power is available in such cities. If no radiologist is available to work full time in these district hospitals and medical college hospitals, some radiologists can be hired on a part time basis. To effect such arrangement of in-sourcing of medical experts, the professional and administrative environment in these Public hospitals would have to be improved considerably by removing bureaucratic obstacles and political interference. The general experience has been that privatisation of healthcare services increases denial of healthcare services to the poor, even if those with BPL cards are supposed to get free services from these privatised facilities, since the genuine poor people are excluded under one pretext or other. Jan Arogya Abhiyan demands that this decision of privatization of radiological services be reversed immediately and corrective steps be taken as mentioned above, so that Public hospitals can provide quality health care services to the people.

 

  1. Ensure adequate provision of essential medicines in all public health facilities by implementing the ‘Tamil Nadu model’ in comprehensive manner at earliest

 

Maharashtra’s medicine procurement and distribution system requires complete overhaul to overcome continued gross shortages of medicines in Public health facilities. The current system of procurement is non-transparent and inefficient hence Jan Arogya Abhiyan demands that the tried and tested, renowned system of medicine procurement and distribution in Tamil Nadu should be fully adopted in Maharashtra (with minor modifications if needed), instead of indulging in half-hearted and inadequate initiatives. When states like Kerala and Rajasthan have effectively adopted this model, and other states are in the process, why is Maharashtra Govt. reluctant to go in for an autonomous, transparent procurement body, and pass-book based demand driven distribution system? The inefficient, wasteful and corrupt medicine procurement and distribution system in Maharashtra requires complete overhaul and not half baked, ill conceived experiments.

 

  1. Government should strictly and effectively implement the ban on private practice by Public doctors, and should not dilute this order in any manner.

 

Today one reason for decline in people’s confidence in public health facilities is the frequent absence of doctors. Particularly specialist doctors may be often be absent since they are busy in their private practice, even as they draw a full salary from the Government! In this context the State health department has recently taken a positive decision to ban all private practice by Govt. doctors, along with providing 35% additional Non-practicing allowance (NPA). However due to weak implementation of this order, several Govt. doctors continue their private practice. Hence JAA demands strict implementation of this order across the state.

Certain Govt. doctors have reportedly demanded an ‘option’ of not accepting NPA and continuing their private practice, and pressure is being brought on the Health department to allow such relaxation. JAA demands that the Health department should not give in to any such pressures, and should not dilute the ban on private practice or reconsider this key decision.

 

We would like to note that Jan Arogya Abhiyan had presented all these demands to the Health Minister of Maharashtra, during our protest at Nagpur at time of the Assembly session on 19 December 2012, however no concrete action has been taken by the Government so far. Hence we have planned the protest at Mumbai on 22nd March 2013, by means of which we would like to draw attention of the public to these issues, and assert the need for the Government to address these issues promptly.

 

Dr. Anant Phadke             Dr. Suhas Kolhekar        Brian Lobo  Leni Chaudhuri

(9423531478)           (9422986771)                  (9421549824)           (9820639762)

Dr. Satish Gogulwar           Bandu Sane                       Kajal Jain   Pramod Nigudkar

(9422123016)                     (9890359154)                  (9970231967)            (9860287966)

 

All activists belonging to constituent organisations and networks: Kashtakari Sanghatana, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan – Mumbai, National Alliance for People’s Movements, Mahila Rajsatta Andolan, Bharatiya Mahila Federation, Rationing Kruti Samiti, Movement for Peace and Justice, ASHA Workers’ Union

Vada Na Todo Abhiyan

Jan Arogya Abhiyan – Maharashtra State                                                       

Contact: Dr. Anant Phadke: 8, Ameya Ashish society, Konkan express lane, Kothrud, Pune – 411038

Phone – 9423531478  email - anant.phadke@gmail.comjanarogyaabhiyan@gmail.com

Contact: Dr. Anant Phadke: 8, Ameya Ashish society, Konkan express lane, Kothrud, Pune – 411038

Phone – 9423531478  email - anant.phadke@gmail.comjanarogyaabhiyan@gmail.com

 

#Budget2013 high on rhetoric, low on funds for food security


Buisnesstoday

Sebastian P.T.
Sebastian P.T.

For all the talk of the United Progressive Alliance government about the seminal step the proposed National Food Security Bill will be in eradicating hunger and malnutrition, Finance Minister P Chidambaram‘s budgetary allocation for it is paltry. In his Budget speech , the Finance Minister said he was setting aside an extra Rs 10,000 crore, apart from the usual provision for  food subsidy, toward the “incremental cost” likely once the legislation is passed.

How much has Chidambaram provided? Part two of the Expenditure Budget documents shows it is Rs 90,000 crore. The document clarifies: “The provision of Rs 90,000 core for food subsidy also includes a provision of Rs 10,000 crore for implementing the National Food Security Act.”

How much was the food subsidy envisioned in the last Budget (2012/13) for the current financial year? It was Rs 75,000 crore, and the revised estimate was above Rs 85,000. But this estimate – as the government itself has said – was based on population numbers of year 2000. Had this figure been updated to the 2011 census, the food subsidy would have been above Rs 1,10,000 crore (as per Food Ministry’s estimates).

And, if the 2011 census figures are used to estimate the food subsidy bill for 2013/14, it rises, by the food ministry’s own calculations, to Rs 124,000 crore – even without the Food Security Bill becoming law. If it is passed the subsidy will be even higher. Of course, all these estimates are based on the Bill introduced in the Lok Sabha in December 2011.

So how does Chidambaram’s allocation of Rs 90,000 crore amount to an additional outlay?  “I don’t know the Bill yet,” said Chidambaram at his press conference after the Budget announcement. “There is no Food Security Bill at the moment. We only have the Standing Committee’s report on an earlier version of the Bill. It is only when the (revised) Bill is presented to the Cabinet, that we can do an assessment of its cost. I cannot put a number today. However, in anticipation that a Bill will carry an incremental cost, I have provided Rs 10,000 crore.”

But he should have had an idea. The estimates of the food ministry, based on the original provisions of the Bill, are public knowledge. The original bill intended to include up to three-fourths of the rural population and half the urban population as beneficiaries, with 46 per cent of the former and 28 per cent of the latter being ‘priority households’, which would be entitled to seven kilos of foodgrain per person per month, at prices of one rupee per kg for coarse grain, two rupees for wheat and three rupees for rice. (Distinct from them would be the ‘general households’, which would get three kilos or less at half the price the government paid farmers to procure the grain.) The ministry estimated the subsidy at Rs 1,26,000 crore a year.

How can Rs 90,000 crore then be called an enhanced allocation? “This is a big letdown,” said N.C. Saxena, member of the Sonia Gandhi headed National Advisory Council (NAC). “The meagre Rs. 10,000 crore set aside for the implementation of the Food Security bill not only implies the lack of urgency on the government’s part to enact it but also the gross underestimation of the additional resources required,” says Subrat Das, Executive Director, Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability.

Examining the original Bill,the Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution has recommended removing the distinction between priority and general households, among other things. But no final decision has been taken. Whatever is decided, however, even if the final cost is less than Rs 126,000 crore, it certainly will be much more than what the finance minister has provided for. He certainly will have to loosen his wallet or the outcome could well be a diluted Bill, hardly serving the noble intent.

 

#India- Activists decry linking maternity benefits to population control #Vaw #Reproductiverigghts


New Delhi, Jan 26 — Civil society groups have expressed shock at a parliamentary panel’s recommendation to restrict the nutritional support under government schemes to only two children per family and to disqualify mothers of more children from maternity benefits.

 

Debunking the need for coercive measures to promote population stabilisation, A.R. Nanda, former secretary, department of family welfare, said that India’s population growth has already slowed down considerably and the figures from the 2011 Census show that the decadal growth at 17.64 percent is the lowest in the last 50 years.

 

Reviewing the National Food Security Bill, the parliamentary standing committee on food, consumer affairs and public distribution has recommended that maternity benefits under government schemes should be restricted to only the first two children. The steps to link entitlements to population control or family size need to stop and emphasis should be laid on providing women with adequate nutritional supplements which should be extended to women from socially and economically weaker backgrounds, Nanda said on the sidelines of a function here on girl child.

 

Jashodhara Dasgupta from National Alliance for Maternal Health and Human Rights (NAMHHR) said that according to National Family Health Survey III, nearly 60 per cent of the most vulnerable women of the age group of 15-49 years have more than two children. “They will be disqualified from maternity benefits; these include the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, the poorest and those with no education,” Dasgupta was quoted as saying in a release. As such, disqualifying vulnerable women from maternity benefits just because they give birth to more than two children is a cruel denial of their reproductive and economic rights, she said. Maternity benefits and support are most essential for the well being of poor women and for the future generation of our country, she said. There is an urgent need to delink the supplementary nutritional programmes and maternity entitlements from the two-child norm, else the “inclusive agenda” of the government will be defeated, she added.

 

The activists strongly recommended that maternity benefits and nutritional support schemes should be made unconditional. There should be no restrictions in access to these public support programmes with regard to age or parity.

 

The government should ensure minimum support facilities at work, including creches, wage compensation, nursing breaks and adequate maternity leave for exclusive breast feeding, for poor women in the country, they said.

 

Abhijit Das, convenor of the National Coalition Against Two-Child Norm and Coercive Population Policies, New Delhi, expressed “serious concerns that such a disqualification would be gender-insensitive”.
The recommendations have also been objected to by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).

 

The parliamentary standing committee’s other recommendations, which include diluting the existing commitments of the government to provide nutritional security to children, have also drawn criticism from the civil society as well as the NCPCR.
IANS

 

 

#India -2- child norm to Maternity Care, Nutritional Security Of Children #WTFnews #Coercion #illegal #health


Cap benefits, limit families, suggests panel

Call To Dilute Govt Commitments To Maternity Care, Nutritional Security Of Children Draws Fire

Nitin Sethi TNN , Jan 24, 2012

New Delhi: Should maternity benefits and nutritional support to children under government schemes be restricted to only the first two children to “encourage stabilization of population”? Raising a storm among activists, the parliamentary standing committee has recommended so while assessing the National Food Security Bill. The recommendation has been objected to by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights also (NCPCR).

The other recommendations of the standing committee diluting the existing commitments of the government to provide nutritional security to children, flowing out from various Supreme Court orders, has also drawn criticism from the civil society and the commission. In its report, the standing committee said: “The committee recommends that the maternity benefit of Rs 1,000 shall be admissible up to the birth of second child only to encourage stabilization of population.” It also recommended that pregnant women should be eligible for the maternity benefit of Rs 1,000 per month after three months into pregnancy and not for six months as is norm now.
Reacting strongly to the proposals, NCPCR said, “The commission is stunned to see that its submissions to the standing committee on critical issues of children’s food and nutritional security have not found place in the report.” It said, “The universal and unconditional maternal entitlements enabling exclusive breast-feeding to babies for the first six months of life that was provided for in the NFSB is now withdrawn. On the contrary, the committee imposed the two-child norm denying entitlements to the third born and higher order of babies to encourage stabilization of population.”
The standing committee report notes that the recommendation to use regulation of nutritional support for population stabilization was made by Congress MP Naveen Jindal.
The commission has criticized the recommendations, saying, “The committee has ignored the importance of exclusive breast-feeding of babies for the first six months of life which is the vital and indispensable factor for survival and growth of children. In would only perpetuate child mortality and malnutrition in the country. This is unjust and violates the fundamental right to equality.”
The Right to Food campaign, too, has criticized the recommendation denying the nutritional support to children, “It is now widely recognised that such disincentives do not contribute to population stabilisation and only violate the rights of women and children. India’s fertility rate has been steadily declining and anyway approaching the level of population stabilisation.” The campaign added, “It is shocking to learn that the committee obliterated legal guarantees to the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and anganwadis on grounds of programmatic and operational gaps in the scheme. This undermines the Supreme Court orders and the advise of hundreds of experts and campaigns that wrote to the Committee on the importance of universalising the ICDS services.”
Oddly, it was on the advice of the Union ministry for women and child development that the standing committee decided to keep ICDS out of the list of legal entitlements under the bill. The ministry told the committee, “The scheme is confronted with programmatic and operational gaps which would need to be addressed first.”

 

 

Notes from an illuminating journey #sundayreading


ANKITA AGGARWAL, The Hindu

People at Gola block office in Ramgarh district listening to the yatris demand for universal old age pension
People at Gola block office in Ramgarh district listening to the yatris demand for universal old age pension

 to Food campaign launched a series of yatras in north India last month. Ankita Aggarwal joined the Jharkhand yatris and got a taste of the woes of the villagers.

The National Food Security Bill, tabled in Parliament in December 2011, is a travesty of the right to food. There have been regular agitations ever since for a comprehensive food security act, which guarantees adequate nutrition to everyone. Last month, the right to food campaign launched a series of yatras (convoys) in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and West Bengal to take this issue to the people.

I joined the Jharkhand yatra on October 11 in Bokaro. Baleshwar Bauri, who seemed to be leading the yatra at that time, is a Dalit from Dhanbad. He joined the Total Literacy Campaign in 1992 and was later a part of Asangathit Mazdoor Vahini, which agitated for minimum wages in the unorganised sector. He has also worked with Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti (BGVS), the right to information movement, and the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). Encouraged by the achievements of earlier struggles, he is hopeful that the campaign for a comprehensive food security act will also succeed.

The next day we moved to Ramgarh and gathered people at the Gola block office compound. After talking about our demand for universal old age pension, we asked the few elderly people intently listening to us whether they were getting pensions. One of them, a woman, said that her pension was yet to be sanctioned in spite of her giving money and murga (chicken meat) to the middlemen. Another woman, a widow, had also paid money to get her pension sanctioned but was still waiting for it. People said that in their villages (Chadi, Chokada, Hupu, Navadih, among others) there were many other cases of old people or widows who were not getting a pension. Even those who do get a pension often receive it after delays of up to six months.

In the same meeting we asked people how they would feel if food rations under the Public Distribution System (PDS) were replaced with cash transfers. Without pausing for a second to think, some people said that they preferred rice to cash. When I asked if anyone would rather get cash, nobody in the group of about 50 people said “yes”. I then asked one of the old men who wasn’t getting a pension why he preferred rice. He said that money would get spent within a few days on other things. A younger man shouted from the back that if the old man was given money, he would squander it on alcohol.

A yatri’s story

Farkeshwar Mahto, one of the yatris (travellers), told me how he got involved in “social work”. He said that in 1999, when he was about 18 years old, a Dalit widow in his village was branded a daayan (witch) by her relatives who actually wanted to scare her away and seize her land. This woman was stripped, paraded in the village and sexually assaulted. Shaken by this incident, Farkeshwar decided to join struggles for justice. He was confident that the campaign’s demands would be accepted, because the government – he felt – is afraid of the people and needs their votes. He also said that some people, after listening to the yatris, asked whether they belonged to a political party and said that they wanted to vote for them.

Sometimes we would do a street play on a negotiation between the government and the public on PDS entitlements. The play was written by Bhagirath Das, another Dalit from Dhanbad, who also writes and sings songs on various social issues. When I asked him about the role of this creative work in the struggles he had been part of, he said that the public was bored of bhashans (speeches) and was more attracted to songs, plays and slogans. He felt that these were great means of communicating to others what social movements are trying to achieve.

On October 14 we reached Geddu Amba toli in the Angara block of Ranchi. In this village, people had mobilised last year to protest against the non-distribution of PDS rations in April and May. After a dharna at the Block office and other agitations, they had succeeded in forcing the administration to distribute the missing rations. This was an encouraging story, in a State where people generally feel so powerless to prevent corruption.

Jharkhand has expanded its Below Poverty Line (BPL) list to include more rural households in the PDS. All families among the (so-called) Primitive Tribal Groups have Antyodaya cards which entitle them to 35 kg of rice every month, free of cost. BPL cardholders also get monthly rations of 35 kg of rice, at one rupee per kg. A survey of the PDS conducted last year in Dumka and Ranchi districts found that actual purchases of PDS rice by BPL cardholders were around 70 per cent of the official entitlements. This was lower than in any other State covered by the same survey (except Bihar), but still represents an important step forward in a State where most of the PDS grain was diverted to the black market just a few years ago.

The yatris came from very diverse social backgrounds. Arif Ansari, 20, was assisting the driver in the bus we were travelling in. Soon after the yatra began, he took a liking for our songs, slogans and plays, and decided to join in. There was of course no looking back. Arif said that he didn’t have a ration card, but that after listening to so many people speaking about the need for everyone to have a ration card, he was hopeful that his family would be able to get one too.

Onward to Delhi

On October 16, a large convention on the right to food took place in Jamshedpur, where yatras from different States (Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal) converged. The Bihar yatra had begun from Jalhe Bogia village in Gaya district, where, sometime in 2005, hunger forced people to exhume a dead goat and eat its meat. Yatris from Chhattisgarh recounted many complaints of hardship due to the diversion of land and water for industries. In West Bengal, the yatra played a crucial role in the State government’s decision to start distributing additional allocations of 5 kg of foodgrains a month to 5000 households in every district. Various speakers stressed that ensuring food security requires addressing related issues of food production, procurement, storage and distribution.

In all the States where yatras took place, people earnestly supported the campaign’s demand for abolishing the division between BPL and APL (Above Poverty Line) households, and for a universal PDS. They wanted not only cereals from the PDS, but also pulses and oil, which are crucial for good nutrition. The campaign’s demand for excess food stocks to be immediately distributed through the PDS also received overwhelming support.

It was most energising to be part of a gathering where people from different States (some of whom had travelled for more than two days to reach Jamshedpur) had come to share their struggles for the right to food. The participants also danced, sang songs and exchanged slogans in several languages. The convention ended with a resolve to intensify the movement for a comprehensive food security act and agitate in the capital during the winter session of Parliament. I look forward to meeting all these people again, this time in Delhi.

 

INDIA-Left parties submit charter of demands to Prime Minister


 

NDTV.com | Updated: August 04, 2012 1

New Delhi: The four Left parties met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with a charter of demands concerning food security. This memorandum was submitted today after a five day dharna at Jantar Mantar.

Here is the full text of memorandum presented to Dr Singh.

Dear Dr. Manmohan Singhji,

The Left parties have held a nationwide campaign on the issues concerning food security. This phase of the struggle ended with a five day sit-in protest at Jantar Mantar attended by thousands of people from all over the country. Representatives of different States presented their experiences and highlighted the adverse impact of relentless food inflation on the lives of common people. There was a unanimous rejection of the draft Food Security Bill presently before the Parliamentary Standing Committee. We write this memorandum to draw your attention to what we consider are the critical issues.

1. India produces enough foodgrains to ensure a food security system which covers all sections of the people. The targeted system introduced as part of the so-called economic reforms from the decade of the nineties has proved to be a failure. Large sections of people who require subsidized foodgrains are excluded. It has been shown that in a country like India, with a large majority of the workforce in the unorganized sector with no fixed income, the errors of exclusion far outweigh those of inclusion in a targeted system. With the largest numbers of hungry people in the world, India requires a comprehensive and inclusive food security system, which can only be provided by scrapping the targeted system and replacing it with a universal system.

2. With the relentless increase in prices of food items, a universal public distribution system can also help to keep market prices down. Dal, edible oil and other essential commodities should be  supplied through the public distribution system.  Many State Governments using their own funds, however limited, are providing foodgrains at one or two rupees a kilo. The central food security system therefore must keep the prices of foodgrains down to a maximum of two rupees a kilo. We therefore believe that it is only reasonable that a minimum of 35 kg of foodgrains at a maximum price of two rupees should be provided.

3. The experience of targeting is not just in poor implementation but more fundamentally linked to the estimates of poverty converted into daily poverty lines and State wise quotas by the Planning Commission. You well know of the national outrage against the poverty line figures given by the Planning Commission to the Supreme Court of  Rs. 26 for an adult in rural India and Rs. 32 for an adult in urban India at 2010-2011 prices. We have learnt that yet another committee has been set up to look at poverty estimates afresh. We strongly oppose the linkages between Planning Commission estimates with either food security or other welfare rights and schemes. The present questionnaire for the BPL census also raises many questions as it is designed to exclude rather than include the deprived. This further underlines the urgent necessity for universalizing the right to food.

4. India can have a successful food security programme only if the kisans of India are protected from the volatility of market manipulation by powerful lobbies. In this connection the recommendation of the National Farmers Commission is for an MSP based on the actual cost of production, which is constantly rising given the increase in the prices of fertilizer, diesel, pesticides, seeds, electricity and other inputs plus a 50 per cent profit margin. This is an important aspect of providing food security.

5. At present the Government is holding around 5 crore tonnes of surplus stocks of foodgrains. In the name of “liquidating the stocks” the Government has decided to export the grains. Already 25 lakh tonnes have been exported. The grains are given at subsidized prices to private traders. Substantial amount of this grain will be ultimately used as cattle feed in developed countries. We believe that the grains should be distributed universally. Particularly at a time when India is facing one of its worst droughts, export of foodgrains is shortsighted and will only benefit big agribusinesses. We are against exports at this time.

6. All these issues should be reflected in the Food Security Bill. Instead it is unfortunate that the Bill seeks to push the so-called reform process further by linking the APL subsidy to acceptance by the States of certain objectionable conditions such as introduction of cash transfers, AADHAR cards etc. Cash transfers at a time of high food inflation will erode even the present inadequate allocations apart from other factors such as possible diversion of the funds for other pressing needs. In any case such conditions are an attack on the federal character of the constitution and an encroachment on the rights of the States. The Bill gives overriding powers to the Central Government. The present Bill also legalizes targeting in a new form by introducing three categories of general (APL), priority (BPL) and automatically excluded sections. We find this highly objectionable. We believe that the Bill in its present form will legalise food insecurity and must be radically changed so as to include:

Minimum allocation of 35 kg of foodgrains of reasonable quality per family at the maximum price of two rupees a kilo.

This should be a legally enforceable universal right, scrapping APL/BPL divisions.

Conditions such as cash transfers should be eliminated.

The Food Security Bill should be suitably amended and presented in the forthcoming session of Parliament.

We hope that you will consider our views and take appropriate action.

With regards

(Prakash Karat)                        
General Secretary, CPI(M)

(S. Sudhakar Reddy)
General Secretary, CPI

(Debabrata Biswas)                       
General Secretary, AIFB

(Abani Roy)
Secretary, RSP

 

The Women Farmer’s Entitlements Bill, 2011


Agriculture

Agriculture (Photo credit: thegreenpages)

AS INTRODUCED IN THERAJYASABHA
ON THE11THMAY, 2012
Bill No. LVof 2011
THE WOMEN FARMERS’ ENTITLEMENTS BILL, 2011
——————
ARRANGEMENT OF CLAUSES
——————
CHAPTER I
PRELIMINARY
CLAUSES
1. Short title, extent and commencement.
2. Definitions.
CHAPTER II
CERTIFICATION OFWOMANFARMER
3. Certification of Woman Farmer.
4. Acceptance of certificate as evidence.
CHAPTER III
LANDRIGHTS
5. Equal land rights to women farmers.
CHAPTER IV
WATERRIGHTS
6. Equal right to water resources.
7. No discrimination for irrigation purposes.
CHAPTER V
LEGAL ACCESS TO CREDIT AND OTHERAGRICULTURAL INPUTS
8. Entitlement of women farmers to get credits, loans and other financial supports.
CHAPTER VI
FUND FORSUPPORTSERVICES TOWOMENFARMERS
9. Establishment of Fund.
10. Women farmer friendly technology.
11. Market facilities.
12. Training and capacity building.
CHPATER VII
IMPLEMENTATION ANDMONITORINGAUTHORITIES, THEIRRESPONSIBILITIES
13. Responsibilities of Central Government.
14. Responsibilities of State Governments.
15. Responsibilities of local authorities.
16. Women Farmers’ Entitlement Board.
17. District Vigilance Committees.
18. Redressal of grievances.
(i)
CHAPTER VIII
PENALTIES ANDPROCEDURES
CLAUSES
19. Penalty for non-compliance of provisions of this Act.
20. Cognizance of offences.
21. Actions in good faith.
CHAPTER IX
MISCELLANEOUS
22. Overriding effect.
23. Power to give directions.
24. Power of State Government to restrict the application of the Act to certain Areas.
25. Power to remove difficulties.
26. Power of Central Government to make Rules.
27. Rules, regulations and schemes to be laid before Parliament.
(ii)
THE WOMEN FARMERS’ ENTITLEMENTS BILL, 2011

A BILL to provide for the gender specific needs of women farmers, to protect their legitimate needs
and entitlements and to empower them with rights over agricultural land, water
resources and other related right and for other functions relating thereto and for
matters connected therewith.

WHEREASwomen constitute more than fifty per cent of Indian farmers and about sixty
per cent of the workforce in the farming sector; and in view of the increasing feminisation of
agriculture as a result of out-migration of men, entitlements for women farmers are essential
for the future growth and health of agriculture, as well as protection of food security in an era
of climate change;

ANDWHEREASit is necessary to recognize and protect the gender specific needs and
rights of the women by empowering and entitling them with enforceable rights over agricultural
land, water resources, credit and other related rights;
ANDWHEREASthe Married Women’s Property Act, 1874 recognised the wages, earnings
and other property acquired by an married woman in any employment, occupation or trade
carried on by her in her individual capacity as her separate property; the Hindu Succession
(Amendment) Act, 2005 entitled the daughter of a Joint Hindu family governed by the
Mitakshara law, to become a coparcener in her own right in the same manner as the son and
clothes her with the same rights and liabilities in the coparcenary property as she would have
had if she had been a son; the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers
(Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 recognised the rights of forest-dwelling communities
to the forest land and other forest resources;
ANDWHEREASthe Government of India has recognized the special needs of women
farmers by initiating a “Mahila Kisan Shashaktikaran Pariyojana” programme under the
National Rural Livelihood Mission;

ANDWHEREASIndia is a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), 1979 which calls for elimination of all forms of
discrimination of women by ensuring equal access to agricultural credit and loans, marketing
facilities, appropriate technology and equal treatment in land and agrarian reform as well as
in land resettlement schemes;
ANDWHEREAS the Fourth World Conference on Women in September, 1995, in which
India participated, called for legislative and administrative reforms to give women equal
rights with men to economic resources, including access to ownership and control over land
and other properties, credit, inheritance, natural resources, and appropriate new technology,
etc. as embodied in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action;
ANDWHEREASit is considered necessary to implement the decisions in so far as they
relate to the women farmers’ entitlements under Article 253 of the Constitution of India.
BEit enacted by Parliament in the Sixty-Second Year of the Republic of India as
follows:—
CHAPTER I
PRELIMINARY
1. (1) This Act may be called the Women Farmers’ Entitlements Act, 2011.
(2) It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
(3) It shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification
in the Official Gazette, appoint.
2.In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires—
(a) “agriculture” means and includes, all activities related to cultivation of
crops, animal husbandary, poultry, livestock rearing, apiculture, gardening, fishing,
aquaculture, sericulture, vermiculture, horticulture, floriculture, agro-forestry, or any
other farming activity carried out through self-employment, tenurial cultivation, share
cropping, or other types of cultivation including shifting cultivation, collection, use
and sale of minor or non-timber forest produce by virtue of ownership rights or
usufructory rights;
(b) “agricultural activity” means any activity related to agriculture;
(c) “farmer” means any person who is, individually or jointly with any other
person,—
(i) engaged in agriculture directly or through the supervision of others; or
(ii) contributes to conservation or preservation of agriculture related
varieties or seeds or breeds of farm animals; or
(iii) contributes through traditional knowledge to any type of innovation,
conservation or to propagation of new agricultural varieties or to agricultural
cultivation methods or practices or to the practice of crop-livestock integrated
farming system; or
(iv) promotes agro-processing, and value-addition to primary products.

Download the full bill below

women farmers bill 2012_English