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CHILD Protection & Child Rights » IV. National Mechanisms » Child Related Legislations » Right to Food Legislation and Children » The National Food Security Bill

India is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (1966), which recognise a Right to adequate food. The Directive Principles of State Policy in the Constitution of India provide that it is the duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition and standard of living of its people, and improve public health.

The National Food Security Bill was drafted in 2010, proposing legal entitlements for about 75 percent of the population. In January 2011, an Expert Committee set up by the Prime Minister under the chairmanship of Dr. C. Rangarajan who studied the Bill and made recommendations, including reducing the proportion of the population entitled to benefits and computerizing PDS.

A draft Bill was circulated by the Ministry of Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution for public feedback in September 2011 and it was introduced in the Lok Sabha by the Minister of Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution on December 22, 2011. The Bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution January 5, 2012.

The National Food Security Bill, 2011, Twenty Seventh Report, which states, "Food security means availability of sufficient food grains to meet the domestic demand as well as access, at the individual level, to adequate quantities of food at affordable prices." The report adds, "The proposed legislation marks a paradigm shift in addressing the problem of food security – from the current welfare approach to a right based approach. About two thirds(approx 67%) of the population will be entitled to receive subsidized foodgrains under Targeted Public Distribution System. In a country where almost 40% of children are undernourished the importance of the scheme increases significantly."

The Bill proposes food grain entitlements for up to 75 percent of the rural and up to 50 percent of the urban population. Of these, at least 46 percent of the rural and 28 percent of the urban population will be designated as priority households. The rest will be designated as general households. The priority households will be entitled to 7 kg of subsidized food grains per person per month. General households will be entitled to at least 3 kg. The Bill proposes meal entitlements to specific groups. These include: pregnant women and lactating mothers, children between the ages of six months and 14 years, malnourished children, disaster affected persons, and destitute, homeless and starving persons.

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