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Mainstream, VOL LX No 33, 34 New Delhi, August 6, August 13, 2022 [Independence Day Special]

Flag Waving Nationalism Should Not Disrupt Food Security | Right to Food Campaign Press Release (Aug 10, 2022)

Saturday 13 August 2022

RIGHT TO FOOD CAMPAIGN
Email: righttofoodindia[at]gmail.com Web: www.righttofoodcampaign.in
Mobile - 8527359760, 7985946875 Phone - 91-11 - 41613468

[Press Release]

10th August 2022

The Right to Food Campaign is very concerned over media reports coming from different parts of the country regarding denial of rations to people if they do not purchase the tiranga (national flag) under the Har Ghar Tiranga Abhiyan initiated by the Union Government on the occasion of 75th year of Independence. Such denial of ration is patently illegal, in violation of the fundamental right to food guaranteed by the Constitution and reiterated multiple times by the Supreme Court and also the provisions of the National Food Security Act. We are alarmed that this reported denial is coming at a time when people are in any case facing extreme economic hardships.

Unorganised sector workers, people from marginalised and vulnerable economic backgrounds are facing grave difficulties in affording even two meals a day due to the twin factors of income shock faced by them during COVID-19 lockdowns and the runaway inflation wherein today a gas cylinder is more than rs. 1000 and prices of food items has gone up due to imposition of GST. The recent Global Nutrition Report 2021 also shows that 71 percent of Indians cannot afford a healthy diet. Even the latest State of Food Security and Nutrition report shows that the world is moving backward in efforts to eliminate hunger and malnutrition. In India under these circumstances, Public Distribution System and Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) under it is probably what kept many away from the brink of starvation during the COVID-19 pandemic for those who consist of ration cards.

In the present scenario, the crucial need is to widen the coverage under the food security net to include non-ration cardholders who are excluded from the ration list but need subsidised or free food grains. The coverage of the food security net has not been revised since the 2011 census despite the Supreme Court directions in the migrant workers case, leading to exclusion of more than 10 crore people from the Public Distribution System. It is also necessary to ensure nutritionally rich diverse food instead of providing only wheat and rice under PDS.

Food is a fundamental right of every individual in this country and must not be distorted or denied under any circumstances. Imposition of any kind of compulsion to buy flags to receive food grains is inhuman and a dangerous step against those struggling to survive. The government must immediately order an enquiry into these reports of denial of rations and if any such orders have been given making purchase of flag necessary to receive rations, they must be withdrawn with immediate effect. Further, if any dealer or official is been found to be denying ration, action must be taken against them.

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