Any form of violence in the human society emanates from unequal power relations and the constant urge by the dominating party to control such relations so that they continue unabated without being challenged. Through the lens of gender, it is the men due to their ideological underpinnings (such as patriarchal mindset), who have control over the resources and even the “rules” that determines the distribution and possession of such resources. There exists sexual division of labour due to which women are exploited, physically, mentally as well as commercially. Violence is used as a weapon to control the very male-oriented and dogmatic ideology governing the system that identifies women merely as care-givers, reproductive machines and sexual tools.
Women in India are subject to all forms of violence. Female foeticide is quite common in Haryana and Punjab since there is preference for sons. In these two states, the sex ratio is lower than the national average. In India, Kerala (1,058 females per 1,000 males) is the state with the highest sex ratio and Haryana (861 females per 1,000 males) is the state with the lowest sex ratio.
Sons are believed to carry forward the lineage. This is one reason behind high fertility rate in India. More investment on the education of sons is done compared to that on daughters. Within the household, there exists gender discrimination, which determines intra-household distribution of food. Due to lower educational levels, women’s capacity to earn shrinks. Malnutrition among adolescent girls and women is quite prevalent in India.
Women from upper castes are seldom allowed to work outside the home since it is considered as a prestige issue. That is why in India, we find work participation of women to be lower than that of men. However, work participation rate among low caste women is better compared to that among upper caste women. Honour killings are quite common in Haryana and Tamil Nadu when young girls marry somebody outside their caste and clan (also known as ‘khap’ in Jat community of Haryana) against their families’ consent.
Dowry is demanded from the husband’s side (in-laws) when younger women get married. Newly married women become subject to verbal and physical abuse. In many cases, young brides are burnt to death by the in-laws when their parents fail to meet the requisite dowry demanded by the in-laws. Female chastity and virginity is considered as a great virtue and it also determines women’s fate in their husband’s house. Abortion cases are quite frequent in India when the case arises to prevent unwanted pregnancy. However, very little is discussed about the trauma and anxiety associated with abortion, which women undergo. During menstrual cycles, women are asked to stay away from public places and religious ceremonies since they are considered impure during 'those' days.
Female bodies are like guinea pigs and have often been utilized for experimentation when it comes to family planning. Contraceptives meant to lower fertility are promoted by the government at the behest of the MNCs and the corporate sector without thinking about the consequences on health. Sexuality of women is controlled by the State and the men through traditions, beliefs and dominant cultural practices. Population control and family planning gets blindly associated with women’s welfare rather than being linked with the much criticized Malthusian doctrine.
Data on violence against women
In a country like India, it is difficult to rely on statistics pertaining to rape cases. The data may show that such crimes being committed may be going up or down. But in reality, women are afraid of even lodging FIRs (first information reports) in police stations despite being raped or sexually harassed. The judiciary and the legal system have been blamed time and again to be biased towards men. Cases of violence against women are often under-reported.
According to the latest National Crime Records Bureau 2007, a total of 1,85,312 incidents of crime against women (both under Indian Penal Code-IPC and Special and Local Laws-SLL) were reported in the country during 2007 as compared to 1,64,765 during 2006, thus recording an increase of 12.5% during 2007. These crimes have continuously increased during 2003-2007 with 1,40,601 cases in 2003, 1,54,333 cases in 2004, 1,55,553 in 2005, 1,64,765 cases in 2006 and 1,85,312 cases in 2007.
The total number of sexual harassment cases were 10,950 in 2007. The total number of cases pertaining to cruelty by husband and relatives was 75,930. There were 61 cases of importation of girls. Altogether there were 38,734 cases of molestation in 2007. (See the URL: http://ncrb.nic.in/cii2007/cii-2007/FIGURES_2007.pdf).
The number of rape cases has increased by nearly ten folds from 2487 in 1953 to 20737 in 2007. Young girls also become victims of child abuse at the hands of their closest male relatives and neighbours. When such crimes are committed, victims seldom protest due to the fear of social stigma.
When women protest against their exploitation, all methods are tried so as to control them including their voice. For example, Bhanwari Devi, the 'sathin' from Rajasthan, was gang-raped for working against child marriage practiced by the upper castes in her village.
According to the latest data from NCRB, respect for women seems to be the worst in Andhra Pradesh, which accounted for 83.5 per cent of cases under Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act of total cases across the country. The NCRB data clearly points that in 92.5% cases of rape, the offender was known to the victim. In fact, nearly 7.5% of offenders are relatives. Another disturbing aspect was that about a quarter of the rape victims are minors i.e. below 18 years of age.
What can be done?
During the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in September 1995, the United Nations Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, said that violence against women is a universal problem that must be universally condemned. The United Nations has termed violence against women as a gross violation of human rights. In India, a survey showed that for each incidence of violence, women lost an average of 7 working days.
Media that includes television, radio and newspapers can play a positive role in creating awareness about the pitfalls of violence against women. Mass media’s power should not be undermined by our policy makers.
National Crime Records Bureau 2007, http://ncrb.nic.in/cii2007/cii-2007/FIGURES_2007.pdf
National Crime Records Bureau 2007, http://ncrb.nic.in/cii2007/cii-2007/CHAP5.pdf
Violence Against Women Fachtsheet # 239, World Health Organization (WHO),
Available at www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs239/en/index.html
Mind of a rapist by Mihir Srivastava, India Today, 25 June, 2009,
Friday, November 20, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Following the possibility of a crackdown in Naxal affected areas including Dandakaranya in Chattisgarh during government sponsored ‘Operation Green Hunt’ in the month of November, 2009, a part of the intelligentsia wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The letter condemned the forthcoming full-scale State-backed attack on Naxals, expecting killings of innocent poor and tribals in the name of security and development. Presently, our Prime Minister and the Home Minister are of the view that leftwing extremism is posing the gravest threat to the internal security of the country. After facing intense agitation from the civil society organizations, the PM has, however, refused of using the Indian Army and Air Force in the combat operations against the ultras.
The Naxalite movement started on the premise of attaining the broad objective of land and tenancy redistribution in favour of the landless and poor in Naxalbari, West Bengal during the 1960s. Since then it has spread to the states of Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Maharastra and Orissa. According to officials from the Home Ministry, there are 11 extremely sensitive areas, spread over 40 districts. Since the 1970s, the country saw various armed factions, of which the biggest were the People's War Group (PWG) and the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC). The banned CPI (Maoist) party was formed when PWG and MCC merged in September, 2004. Some of these groups also engage in killings, arsons and abduction.
Today, the hotbeds of movement are Lalgarh, West Midnapore and Dantewada, Chattisgarh. The movement finds support among rural poor, tribals from the mineral and resource rich regions, and a part of the urban intellectual class. Previously, the State was accused of abusing human rights for branding social activists as Naxal sympathizers and creating Salwa Judum in Chattisgarh to deprive the Maoists of local support.
Many feel that the type of development, which Indian State pursued, has pushed millions into abject poverty and destitution. The State has worked closely with the corporates like Tatas, Ambanis, Birlas and Jindals so as to plunder natural resources away from the tribals. Behind-the-doors secret meetings led to handing over of natural resources at negligible prices to corporate houses by the Government under the garb of MoUs. Adivasis have been evicted from their own lands and forest to satisfy the development needs as envisioned by the Indian elites. The Naxalite movement grew out of the resistance to challenge the State, which alienated its people from their habitats and which cared too little for its poor citizens. Humanists and the human rights activists think that the Naxal threat is not just a law and order problem. It is a problem related to the socio-economic development of the country, which has brought forth more of inequality among the masses and injustice to the dalits, the adivasis and the farmers. Among social groups, SCs, STs, and backward castes accounted for 80% of the rural poor in 2004–05, as per the 11th Five Year Plan. Capital intensive industrial development has been unable to unleash human development of the masses.
Experts in the government, however, feel that people-centric development is not possible in the Maoist affected regions unless force is used. The red army enjoys the experience of deftly using land mines and sophisticated arms and ammunitions (smuggled through the porous borders) against the administration and the police forces to thwart all sorts of development related activities in their areas. This is done to create a rift between the State and its citizens including the tribals.
If we look at the basic human development indicators in the regions under leftwing extremism, we would find that the figures lag behind that of some of the Sub Saharan African countries. Be it health, nutrition or education, the tribals and dalits are the worst sufferers in the country. It is at situations like this when they become victims at the hands of Maoists and are exploited. The Indian State for its own sake must understand this grave reality and take steps before it is too late. A meaningful dialogue between the extremist groups and the government focusing on the all-around development of tribal communities must begin. The Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, popularly known as PESA should get implemented properly as soon as possible for inclusive governance.
Weapons Of Mass Desperation by Shoma Chaudhury, Tehelka Magazine, Vol 6, Issue 39, 03 October, 2009, http://www.tehelka.com/story_main42.asp?filename=Ne031009coverstory.asp
Taking on Maoists by Venkitesh Ramakrishnan, Volum 26, Issue 22, 24 October-6 November, 2009, Frontline, http://www.frontlineonnet.com/stories/20091106262200400.htm
Planned Military Offensive, Open letter to the Indian Prime Minister, October 10, 2009 Vol. XLIV No 41, Economic and Political Weekly
An Open Letter To Noam Chomsky by Nirmalangshu Mukherji, Outlook India, 22 October, 2009, http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?262424
Stop Offensive, Hold Unconditional Dialogue-Call From National Convention Of Citizens Initiative For Peace, Mainstream, Vol. XLVII, No 45, October 24, 2009,
Rent-a-quote liberals stand up for Naxals, 22 October, 2009, The Economic Times,
Gladson and Arundhati Roy on Naxalism: CNN-IBN Debate, October, 2009,
Maoists linking up with Tamil Tigers? 26 October, 2009, The Times of India,
What Muslims were to BJP, Maoists are to Congress: Arundhati Roy, 26 October, 2009, The Times of India, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/What-Muslims-were-to-BJP-Maoists-are-to-Congress-Arundhati-Roy/articleshow/5159882.cms
Crushed in the middle by Ramachandra Guha, The Hindustan Times, 22 October, 2009,
The Phantom Enemy by Ashok Mitra, The Telegraph, 23 October, 2009,
A Million Mutinies Within by Aditya Nigam, Tehelka Magazine, Vol 6, Issue 26, 04 July, 2009,
Thursday, October 8, 2009
After the successful comeback of the United Progressive Alliance as UPA 2 for the second innings in the Central Government, the country is poised to see Maharashtra, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh going to the Assembly Polls on October 13, 2009. The Assembly Elections are going to prove whether the Indian National Congress (INC) in particular and the UPA in general are able to retain the popularity among the voters, especially when the country has seen enough of price rise particularly in food and sugar, unemployment owing to global downturn and political ‘tamasha’ over the recent austerity drive.
The Maharastra Assembly Polls are going to be interesting since Mumbai, its capital had been the target of terror attack during November, 2008 where over 170 persons got killed and more than 300 were injured. The trial of Ajmal Amir Kasab is still going on. The city has also seen huge loss to life and property caused by flooding on numerous occasions.
Maharastra has been undergoing agrarian crisis since a decade or so in districts of Akola, Amravati, Buldhana, Gadchiroli, Gondia, Nanded, Nandurbar, Osmanabad, Wardha, Wasim and Yavatmal. Farmers’ suicides from cotton belt of Vidarbha region due to indebtedness and crop failures has become a regular feature. Five farmers committed suicide from this region within the last two days of the month of August, 2009. The recent hike in sugar prices too has made the consumers getting disenchanted with the Sharad Pawar led Agricultural Ministry. Issues surrounding displacement of tribals from forest and farmers from their land due to promotion of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) by the state government have made headlines. The state has also witnessed anti-North Indian agitations being launched by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) in which workers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh were beaten up mercilessly and were sent back to their respective states by trains. Coupled with all this are the dynasty politics existing among all major political parties and criminal track records of the candidates who have been fielded in the recent polls.
In the forthcoming Maharastra Assembly Polls, the total number of candidates who are contesting is 3559, which is an increase of 33% over the number of candidates who contested way back in 2004. The Election Commission of India has found that there would be 7.56 crore electors in the state of Maharashtra this time. The total number of contesting parties in the Assembly Elections is 92, which is an increase of 60% over the number of contesting parties in 2004. While these figures may point to democratization of Indian polity combined with greater participation, it is important to look deeper into the backgrounds of the candidates who are contesting. The National Election Watch (NEW, http://nationalelectionwatch.org/), a citizen action group comprising of 1200 NGOs, which is working for poll reform, has recently done an analysis of 880 affidavits filed by contesting candidates out of the total 3559 in Maharastra. It has been found that there are criminal cases pending against 276 candidates out of 880 candidates (31%). Both Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and Shiv Sena (SS) have 42 each, Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has 31, and both Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) and Indian National Congress (INC) have 23 each such candidates who have criminal cases pending against them. These numbers portray the pitiable condition of electoral democracy in Maharastra as far as criminalization of politics is concerned. If candidates with such track records are elected, then law and justice would be at peril. Such persons with criminal backgrounds may manipulate the rules and regulations in order to come out clean every time when their activities are being scrutinized.
There are 212 crorepatis (24%) among the 880 candidates whose affidavits have been analysed by NEW. If criminal track record combined with money power is what makes a candidate a winner in the Assembly Elections, then it is difficult to predict who would take up the issues surrounding voters’ lives and livelihoods when it comes to democratic governance.
The total number of candidates with pending criminal records is 45 in the case of Vidarbha region. Major political parties have fielded candidates with criminal records. There are 26 “crorepatis” among 114 candidates (23%). BJP is topping the list with 53% “crorepatis” (9 out of 17). 46% of candidates (52 of 114) from Vidarbha region have not furnished PAN card details. What more do we need in a region like this which is regarded as the dark spot of agrarian despair and where farmers’ suicides is rampant.
NEW has also released an analysis of the 309 candidates of Mumbai Suburban district of Maharashtra, contesting the Vidhan Sabha elections on October 13. There are 75 candidates who used to be criminals. There are 68 “crorepatis” among 309 candidates. The BJP has deployed 12 candidates who are “crorepatis”. From the affidavit data of 470 candidates (out of total 705) from 60 constituencies from Mumbai City, Mumbai Suburb and Thane districts, we get that there are 126 candidates who used to be criminals. There are 122 “crorepatis” among 470 candidates. The point is if “crorepati” candidates with track record in crime get elected, then what kind of policies can we expect to be formulated once the government is formed. According to a new Human Development Report compiled by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 54.1 per cent of the population are slum dwellers in the city of Mumbai, which is also termed as the finance capital of India. In the year 2006-07, Mumbai had a per capita income of Rs. 65,361, twice of India's average per capita income of Rs. 29,382. Despite having the highest per capita income in India, the income of nearly 10 per cent of the population in Mumbai is not above Rs. 591.75 per month, which means Rs. 20 each day. In Mumbai, people reside in ‘chawls’-both single and multi-storeyed, single-room tenements, and many are pavement dwellers.
It is not a surprise that political parties and the civil service are perceived on average to be the most corrupt sectors around the world, as per the Global Corruption Barometer 2009 prepared by Transparency International. Many believe that information on the affidavits filed by the contesting candidates should get displayed by the electronic voting machine. This will ensure that voters push the button in favour of the right contestant after going through the track records of the candidates. Transparency and accountability in governance would prevail only when the right candidates are elected.
The main points of the study done by National Election Watch are:
1. Mumbai Suburban
a. Candidates with Criminal Records = 75
b. 68 “Karodpatis” in 309 candidates
c. Average assets value for 309 candidates = Rs. 1.52 crores
2. Mumbai and Thane
a. Candidates with Criminal Records = 126
b. 122 “Karodpatis” in 470 candidates
c. Average assets value for 470 candidates = Rs. 1.8 crores
a. Candidates with Criminal Records = 17
b. 13 “Karodpatis” in 45 candidates
c. 47% of candidates (21 of 45) have not furnished PAN card details
4. Vidarbha Region
a. Candidates with pending Criminal Records = 45
b. 26 “Karodpatis” in 114 candidates
c. 51 candidates are graduates and above
d. Average assets value for 114 candidates = Rs. 83 lacs
Report of the Expert Group on Agricultural Indebtedness, Banking Division, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, July 2007,
National Election Watch, http://groups.google.co.in/group/national-ew-news/browse_thread/thread/060b1d4422bdba57?hl=en#
Dynasty politics unite Cong, BJP in Maharashtra by Prachi Jatania / CNN-IBN, http://ibnlive.in.com/news/dynasty-politics-unite-cong-bjp-in-maharashtra/101969-37.html
'Bal Thackeray wants his son to become the CM', http://news.rediff.com/slide-show/2009/oct/05/slide-show-1-maharashtra-assembly-elections-bal-thackeray-wants-his-son-to-become-the-cm.htm
FINAL FORM / REPORT (Under Section 173 Cr.P.C.), IN THE COURT OF ADDL. CH. M.M., 37TH COURT, ESPLANADE, MUMBAI, http://www.hindu.com/nic/mumbai-terror-attack-final-form.pdf
Global Corruption Barometer 2009 prepared by Transparency International,
Every second person in Mumbai resides in slum: UNDP, The Times of India, 4 September, 2009,
Farmers’ suicides continue in Vidarbha despite relief package,
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
In the name of hunting down the ‘Naxalites’, the SJ members left no stone unturned in harassing and looting the ordinary tribals who faced equal amount of intimidation in terms of loss of livelihood from the security forces. Young men are thrown into jails on mere suspicion. A blanket provision to classify anybody as insurgent on the basis of location or origin (‘Naxal stronghold’) has made majority of the population to take emergency refuge in nearby states like Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. The ‘State’ is in a mood to capsize its opponents by abusing human rights and power. This is an ideal breeding ground and juncture for the anti-State extremists to gain the trust of the victims. The office of Vanvasi Chetana Ashram, an NGO inspired by Gandhian ideology, has been ransacked recently by the Chattisgarh police. What was their fault? The NGO has been trying to implement the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) with regard to rehabilitation of the displaced villagers, and to provide legal aid for the filing of FIRs/ complaints in the cases of disappearances and rapes. Civil rights activist Binayak Sen completed two years in jail on May 14, 2009 as an undertrial on charges (yet to be proved) of assisting Naxals in Chhattisgarh.
Activists and citizens from all walks of life now want peace to return to Chattisgarh. They want lakhs of displaced adivasis of Dantewada be allowed to return to their villages and rebuild their ravaged agrarian and forest based economies. However, this time they also want an assurance from the state government on right to life, livelihood and civil liberties, which the citizens of a democracy should enjoy.
Based on the note circulated by Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha (Mazdoor Karyakarta Committee)
Friday, August 21, 2009
Promise of the United Progressive Alliance-II (2009-****):
* Seeing the popularity of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), which helped the Congress to win the 2009 Parliamentary elections, the newly constituted Government has thought of bringing the Food Security Act within the first 100 days of its stay in the office for the second time.
* President Pratibha Patil on June 4, 2009 said that a National Food Security Act would be formulated whereby each below poverty line (BPL) family would be entitled by law to get 25 kg of rice or wheat per month at Rs 3/- per kg, a promise made by the Congress before general elections 2009. Many would agree that the proposal for a Food Security Bill has come at the right point of time when the world has already witnessed food crisis in 2008 that pushed millions of people to the brink of poverty and undernutrition.
* A concept note on the National Food Security Act was made available on 4 June, 2009 by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution. The concept note on National Food Security Act promises to ensure food security (by supplying a certain minimum quality of rice, wheat and coarse cereals) to the below poverty line (BPL) population residing in rural and urban areas. The number of BPL households would be fixed by the Central Government based on the recent poverty estimates of the Planning Commission (presently of 2004-05). As against the accepted number of 6.52 crore BPL cards, there exists 10.68 crore BPL cards by end of March, 2009. The above poverty line (APL) population will be excluded from the targeted public distribution system (TPDS) under the new Food Security Act. Based on the recent poverty estimates (2004-05) by Planning Commission, the number of BPL households will come down from 6.52 crore to 5.91 crore and the number of APL households will increase from 11.52 crore to 15.84 crore. Only 25 kg of foodgrains to each BPL household would be supplied at subsidized rates under the new law. The validity of the new BPL ration cards issued, based on the recent poverty estimates of the Planning Commission (2004-05), would be for 5 years, after which they will automatically expire. Multiplicity of food schemes would be abandoned under the new law, which means discontinuation of a number of food and nutrition related schemes. Presently the Government provides 277 lakh tonnes of foodgrains for below poverty line (BPL) and Antodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) categories, with a subsidy amounting to Rs. 37,000 crore. Under the new Act, the government would provide 251 lakh tons of foodgrains for BPL and AAY categories, with subsidy amounting to Rs. 40,380 crore (if 25 kg of rice or wheat per month is supplied to each BPL household at Rs 3/- a kg). Computerisation of TPDS would take place along with setting up of village grain banks and food security tribunals, according to the concept note.
* The Budget Speech delivered by Minister of Finance Shri Pranab Mukherjee on 6 July, 2009 which stated that the United Progressive Alliance government was preparing a National Food Security Bill, confirmed that the Congress Party will deliver on its election promise of providing 25 kg of foodgrains per month, at Rs 3/- per kg, to every poor family
* A Group of Ministers was formed on 13 July, 2009 to examine the proposed National Food Security Act. The members of the group are: Pranab Mukherjee, Sharad Pawar, AK Anthony, P Chidambaram, Mamata Banerji, Dayanidhi Maran, Anand Sharma and CP Joshi (Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Planning Commission, is a special invitee)
Key features of the proposed Right to Food Act prepared by Prof. Jean Dreze and his team:
* The Right to Food Act, which has been prepared by a team comprising of Prof. Jean Dreze, Harsh Mander, Biraj Patnaik, Reetika Khera and Dipa Sinha and was released on 24 June, 2009 proposes to consolidate, in law, entitlements that are currently in place through eight food and nutrition-related schemes. Most of these entitlements are already justifiable, based on Supreme Court orders in the “Right to Food” case, according to the authors of the proposed Act
* Below Poverty Line (BPL) households: All BPL households shall be entitled to 35 kg of foodgrain each month, at Rs 3/kg for rice and Rs 2/kg for wheat under the Public Distribution System. Each nuclear family shall be treated as a separate household. A new methodology for the BPL Census is being proposed, based on simple, transparent and verifiable criteria. For instance, in rural areas any household that meets any two simple inclusion criteria (such as landlessness and being SC/ST) shall be entitled to a BPL Card. Households meeting any of six “exclusion criteria” will not be entitled to BPL cards. Extensive transparency safeguards will also be introduced in the Public Distribution System (PDS)
* The proposed Act demands for continuation of existing food related schemes such as: Integrated Child Development Services, Mid-Day Meal Scheme, Public Distribution System, Antyodaya, National Maternity Benefit Scheme/ Janani Suraksha Yojana, National Social Assistance Programme, including Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme, Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme and Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme, National Family Benefit Scheme, and Rajiv Gandhi National Crèche Scheme. All the provisions in various such schemes have been elaborately discussed in the proposed Act
* The proposed Act has asked for severe penalties against individuals and organizations/ companies who are held responsible for violation of food safety norms and standards that affects the public. It has demanded for severe punishment to those who push for baby food instead of breast milk
* The draft Right to Food Act has safeguards against encroachments by corporate lobbies and private contractors in food and nutrition related schemes
Demands for food entitlements by the civil society (released on 22 July, available at:
* The Act must hold the government accountable to ensure that no man, women or child sleeps hungry or is malnourished.
* The Act must place an obligation on the government to encourage food production through sustainable and equitable means, and ensure adequate food availability in all locations at all times.
* The Act must incorporate and consolidate all entitlements currently existing under Supreme Court orders (Annexure 1) and existing schemes, especially:
# Hot, cooked, nutritious mid-day meals in all government and government-assisted schools.
# Provision of all ICDS services to all children below the age of six years.
# Antyodaya entitlements as a matter of right for “priority groups”.
* The Act must also create new entitlements for those who are excluded from existing schemes, including out-of-school children, the elderly and the infirm in need of daily care, migrant workers and their families, bonded labour families, the homeless, and the urban poor.
* The Act must not abridge but only expand other entitlements such as old age pensions, maternity entitlements and work entitlements under NREGA.
* The right to food of children in the age group of 0-6 month’s must be ensured through services to the mother, including support at birth; skilled counselling especially to promote breast feeding; maternity entitlements; and crèche facilities at the work place.
* The Act must create an obligation for governments to prevent and address chronic starvation, and reach food pro-actively to persons threatened with starvation.
* The Act must create provisions for governments to deal adequately with natural and human-made disasters and internal displacement, including by doubling all food entitlements for a period of at least one year in affected areas; and removing upper limits to person days of employment in NREGA.
* All residents of the country, excepting possible for categories specially excluded because of their wealth, must be covered by the Public Distribution System, with at least 35 kgs of cereals per household (or 7 kgs per person) per month at Rs. 3/- per kg for rice and Rs. 2/- per kg for wheat. Coarse grains should be made available through the PDS at subsidised rates, wherever people prefer these. In addition, extra provisions of subsidised oil and pulses should be made.
* Women must be regarded as heads of the households for all food-related matters such as the distribution of ration cards.
* The Act must seek to eliminate all social discrimination in food-related matters, including discrimination against Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Most Backward Classes and minorities.
* Cash transfers must not replace food transfers under any nutrition-related scheme.
* The Act must include safeguards against the invasion of corporate interests and private contractors in food policy and nutrition-related schemes, especially where they affect food safety and child nutrition. In particular no GM food and hazardous or useless additives must be allowed in public nutrition programmes. Governments must not enter into any partnerships with the private sector where there is a conflict of interests.
* The Act must include strong, in-built independent institutions for accountability along with time-bound, grievance redressal provisions (including provisions for criminal prosecution), mandatory penalties for any violation of the Act and compensation for those whose entitlements have been denied. In particular, the Gram Sabha must have effective powers for grievance redressal and monitoring of food-related schemes.
* All programmes of food entitlements must have strong in-built transparency mechanisms, and mandatory requirements of social audit.
* Within the existing PDS system, the Act must provide for mandatory reforms such as de-privatisation of PDS shops, preferably to women’s groups, with sufficient capital and commissions for new owners; direct door step delivery of food items to the PDS shop; and computerisation, along with other measures for transparency.
* The Act must specify that no laws or policy shall be passed that adversely impact the enabling environment for the right to food.
Apprehensions about the new National Food Security Act:
* If made into a law, the draft Food Security Bill would reduce the allocation for a below poverty line (BPL) household (e.g. in the case of Antodaya Anna Yojana) from 35 kg of rice/ wheat per month to 25 kg of rice/ wheat per month. This would appear contradictory to many who expected the Bill to be a benign effort of the UPA-II (2009-****) to ensure food security.
* Instead of better implementation of the already existing schemes such as the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), Antodaya Anna Yojana (AAY), Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), Mid Day Meal Scheme (MDMS) etc., the Food Security law might make things unduly worse and unnecessarily complicated. A cynical question here would be: Is the Food Security Bill going to replace all such food related schemes that existed before its enactment?
* If the Bill is about ensuring food security, how can it leave those who may not fall below the poverty line but are already exposed to food insecurity? The Rome Declaration (1996) made during the World Food Summit states that ‘food security is achieved when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active life’. Food security is about nutrition security too. If that is the case, the Food Security Bill has to rethink about the quality of foodgrains supplied and distributed. The Food Security Bill must also aim at providing fortified foodgrains along with pulses, edible oils, salt and essential spices. A balanced diet would ensure both food and nutrition security. The basket of commodities, which would be available to the consumers, should reflect local tastes and preferences and must include locally grown cereals and legumes.
* If targeting of BPL households is done under the Food Security Bill, then that would lead to inclusion (including the non-poor) and exclusion (excluding the poor) errors. It would be wiser to go for universalization (rather than targeting) as was recommended by the Committee on Long Term Grain Policy under the chairmanship of Prof. Abhijit Sen (2000-02).
* Is India ready to rely exclusively upon biotechnology and genetic engineering for increasing its agricultural production so as to ensure food security for all? Much of debates have already taken place on the usefulness and pitfalls of GMOs.
* The World Development Report 2008-Agriculture for Development, which has been brought out by the World Bank mentions that India presently faces the problem of depleting ground water level that makes agriculture unsustainable and poses risk to environment. If rice is one of the foodgrains that is going to be supplied when the Food Security Act comes into being, then more and more farmers would go for cultivation of rice by looking at the price incentives offered by the Government. In the Punjab region, overexploitation of groundwater takes place thanks to the huge subsidies given on electricity. Moreover, minimum support prices (MSP) for rice increase the financial attractiveness of rice relative to less water-intensive crops, which makes depletion of ground water table more obvious.
* There are apprehensions that sustainability of Food Security law would be at peril if India faces lower agricultural production due to poor harvest, drought etc. in the future. Is India ready to rely upon food imports and food aid to ensure right to food at all cost? At present, the country has been facing shortage in south-west monsoon rainfall that might affect agricultural production and prices of commodities.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
A face-to-face interaction of Prof. Amartya Sen with reporters and journalists from media on the issues related to the newly drafted National Food Security Bill took place at the Press Club of India, New Delhi on 8 August, 2009 (11.00 a.m.-12.30 p.m.). Prof. Yogendra Yadav from the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS, http://www.csds.in/) chaired the session. He explained to the media persons present about the importance of Right to Food. He informed that various individuals and organizations are today waiting for a strong and vibrant Right to Food Act. While introducing Prof. Amartya Sen, he said that the Nobel laureate has played a crucial role in the Economics discipline by reintroducing Philosophy and Ethics. While introducing the rest of the speakers i.e. Ms. Kavita Srivastava, Mr. Harsh Mander and Prof. Jean Dreze, he said that a time would come after 15-20 years, when people would look back at history to find those who talked about human development and social justice instead of just higher growth rate of gross domestic product (GDP).
The first speaker Ms. Kavita Srivastava, an activist from People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL, http://www.pucl.org/) spoke at length about the Right to Food Campaign (http://www.righttofoodindia.org/), which is a network of 12 large national and regional networks and groups. It came into being when the PUCL filed a writ petition with the Supreme Court of India in the year 2001 regarding starvation deaths that took place in Rajasthan despite growing stocks of foodgrain in Food Corporation of India’s (FCI) godowns. The Right to Food campaign has been successful in bringing out the Antodaya scheme and the setting up of the Supreme Court Commissioner on Right to Food (http://www.sccommissioners.org/). Now, the Anganwadis have been made universal in terms of reach out. Earlier, the Supreme Court has also issued orders to the various state governments in order to make the Mid Day Meal Scheme (MDMS) workable and mandatory. She said it was nice to find that 2009 Parliamentary elections have been fought in the country on the issue of enacting the Right to Food Act. The commitment to enact the Food Security Bill was reiterated by the President of India on 4 June, 2009. The draft National Food Security Bill is yet to be displayed at the website of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution (http://fcamin.nic.in/). However, a concept note has already been prepared by the Department of Food and Public Distribution. A Group of Ministers (GoM) comprising of leaders like Pranab Mukherjee, Ms. Mamta Banerji, C.P. Joshi, A.K. Anthony, Sharad Pawar etc. are looking at the draft for further modifications. Speaking on the newly proposed Bill, she said that food security requires food availability, social access etc. Food production needs to be sustainable in nature. There should be direct food entitlements and protection of the enabling environment. The Right to Food Bill should have safeguards to prevent encroachments by private contractors and corporate lobbies. The Mid Day Meal Scheme (MDMS) should provide hot cooked meal instead of ready-to-eat food since the provision of the latter would encourage the entry of private contractors to provide the same in schools. There should be an independent authority for ensuring accountability and grievance redressal, Ms. Srivastava demanded. Women must be regarded as the heads of the households under the National Food Security Bill. Coarse grains must be made available through the PDS at subsidized rates. She informed that a “freelance draft” of the Right to Food Act, dated 24, June 2009 and circulated for discussion is available at http://www.righttofoodindia.org/.
Mr. Harsh Mander, who hailed from Supreme Court Commissioner on Right to Food said that India has been able to prevent famines but widespread hunger still persists. As a part of the Supreme Court Commissioner on Right to Food, he looks at various issues related to hunger and malnutrition. Although India has sufficient food to feed every mouth, there is widespread hunger and malnutrition. Despite being a democracy, India has been unable to ensure Right to Food to All till now. There are barriers created by caste, gender, age, etc. within the community and the household. There is the utter need for public provision of food. Every person needs to be reached out to. The National Food Security Act must include out-of-school children, single women, the elderly and the infirm in need of daily care, migrant workers and their families, bonded labour families, the homeless and the urban poor. People should have access to food along with dignity. He mentioned about the success of Brazil’s Zero Hunger Project. Eliminating hunger is Brazilian President Lula da Silva's top priority.
Prof. Jean Dreze mentioned that Right to Food must be discussed in the context of nutrition. There is a need to look at the National Family Health Survey-III, which was conducted in the year 2005-06. If one looks at child malnutrition, then one would find that percentage of children (under 3 years) who are underweight declined marginally from 47.0 during NFHS-II to 45.9 during NFHS-III at the national level. The Supreme Court orders on Mid Day Meal Scheme (MDMS) and Right to Food have taken place in the recent years. The MDMS has been successful in many of the states. The National Rural Employment Guaranty Scheme (NREGS) is able to ensure food security, he said. The NREG Act is complementary to the Right to Food. Right to Food can ensure entitlements. The 2009 Parliamentary elections have made some serious promises. But one may doubt that the Government is re-packaging some existing schemes. Simple interventions won’t provide the desired results. Systematic intervention is required. A working group comprising of Prof. Dreze, Mr. Mander and a few others is preparing an alternative National Food Security Bill. He emphasized on the 3 pillars of food security: a. Programmes for Social Assistance; b. A set of child nutrition programmes (including MDMS and Integrated Child Development Scheme-ICDS) that supports breast feeding too; and c. An universal Public Distribution System (PDS) that covers everybody.
While addressing the media persons, Prof. Amartya Sen expressed his concerns over the widespread prevalence of hunger and undernourishment in the world in general and in India in particular. There are problems of inclusion and exclusion errors while targeting the below poverty line (BPL) population. Some of the African countries are performing better than India in reducing the levels of malnutrition. India has escaped the global economic crisis and it is good to find that the Government has not dismantled all the schemes and programmes. He said that there was a time when the country was terminated by communal riots and violence, which is mentioned in his newly released book titled: The Idea of Justice. Public scrutiny and action is must for the proper functioning of the Right to Food Act, he said. There is need for good provisions within the Act. One of the problems of undernourishment is that it is invisible. Poverty and food insecurity exists due to lack of access to gainful employment, education and health care. Without food, children cannot perform well in their classrooms. There are complementarities between hunger and education. Accountability of primary school teachers is essential. There is a need for a range of interventions, to address different aspects of the problem, he argued. Programmes such as NREGA, ICDS and the Public Distribution System (PDS) have much to contribute, but no single programme is the panacea – “we need them all,” he said. Professor Sen highlighted the complementarity between different interventions, and the correlation between malnutrition, poor health, illiteracy, and other deprivations. He explained life cycle approach to inter-generational malnutrition, where nutritional status of mothers determines the nutritional and health status of the children (even when they grow up). He informed about the work of his then student and now Prof. S.R. Osmani, who has worked on economics of health. He mentioned about the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Commission on Social Determinants of Health. He asked not to go for premature privatization of the health system. The extent of gender inequality is quite large, he said. Among other neglected aspects of the nutrition situation, Professor Sen highlighted the lack of health care. He strongly criticized India’s “ghastly premature privatization” of health care. Asked about his views on “targeting versus universalization” of the PDS, Professor Sen said that there were strong arguments for universalization. For instance, a universal system is less divisive, and helps to create a strong public demand for quality services. A targeted system, on the other hand, always involves exclusion errors. These arguments for universalization are “not dismissible”, he said, but may need to be weighed against the possible costs. The universal PDS allows for better public provision because even the better-off groups with more political voice have a stake in ensuring it works well.
During the question and answer (Q&A) session, when Prof. Sen was asked about the usefulness of cash vouchers, he said that there are limitations pertaining to the voucher system since it can neither stop corruption nor prevent gender inequality. He found merit in the universal Public Distribution System (PDS). When questioned on privatization, he said that privatization of the Indian Airlines/ Air India is a different thing than allowing private contractors to supply ready-to-eat food at schools. Things must be judged within a particular context. The success of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) is extremely important.
Prof. Dreze later took the questions posed by the reporters after the departure of Prof. Sen. When asked what would be the single most important change that can make the PDS work better, Prof. Dreze said that a range of interventions are required to bring about the necessary changes. The present PDS is costlier because of the way foodgrain is procured and sold at the national level. Instead a system that cater to local people’s production and consumption desire must be welcomed. When questioned about the provision of food safety within the proposed Right to Food Bill, he said that food safety has been mentioned in the preamble of the Bill. However, every clause pertaining to the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 could not be included in the Right to Food Bill. The Bill has provisions to disallow invasion by the corporate lobbies and the private contractors. Mr. Harsh Mander said that women must be seen as individuals having rights and their nutritional status needs to be enhanced. Since land acquisitions in the past have been troublesome and deprived people, there should be laws enacted that protect people’s access to land, water and natural resources to ensure livelihood security, said Ms. Kavita Srivastava during the Q&A session.
(Partially, based on the minutes of the event written by Shambhu Ghatak and Reetika Khera)
Monday, July 6, 2009
The Budget 2009-10, presented by the Minister of Finance Shri Pranab Mukherjee on 6 July, 2009, promised to lead the Indian economy back to the high gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of 9 per cent per annum at the earliest. It vowed to strengthen the institutional mechanisms for inclusive growth to create about 12 million new work opportunities per year. The Finance Minister said during his Budget speech that during the year 2008-09, there has been a dip in the growth rate of GDP from an average of over 9 per cent in the previous three fiscal years to 6.7 per cent. This has made an adverse impact on employment creation and the investment climate of the country. The Economic Survey 2008-09 earlier found out that the growth rate of agricultural and allied activities GDP at factor cost (at 1999-2000 prices) decelerated to 1.6% in 2008-09 from 4.9% in 2007-08. The manufacturing, electricity and construction sectors decelerated to 2.4, 3.4 and 7.2 per cent during 2008-09 from 8.2, 5.3 and 10.1 per cent in 2007-08, respectively. In order to generate additional demand in the economy, the fiscal stimulus provided by the Government has led to an increase in the fiscal deficit from 2.7 per cent in 2007-08 to 6.2 per cent of GDP in 2008-09, according to the Budget 2009-10. The fiscal stimulus, which has been provided by the Government at 3.5% of GDP at current market prices for 2008-09 amounted to Rs. 1,86,000 crore.
The highlights of the Budget 2009-10 are as follows:
* The allocation National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for the National Highways Development Programme (NHDP) is being stepped up by 23 per cent over the 2008-09 (BE), during 2009-10.
* The allocation for Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) is being stepped up by 87 per cent to Rs. 12,887 crore in the current budget.
* The allocation for housing and provision of basic amenities to urban poor has been increased to Rs. 3,973 crore in the current year’s budget. A new scheme Rajiv Awas Mission for the urban poor has been mentioned in the Budget.
* In areas like banking and insurance, specifically, the majority control in state-run companies would remain in the hands of the Government with fresh infusion of equity to help them remain globally competitive.
* The Budget Speech proposed disinvestment of the public sector undertakings (PSUs), while retaining 51% Government equity.
* The India Infrastructure Finance Company Limited (IIFCL) has been created as a special purpose vehicle for providing long term financial assistance to infrastructure projects.
* The allocation for the Accelerated Power Development and Reform Programme (APDRP) has been increased to Rs. 2,080 crore.
* Agriculture credit flow was Rs. 2,87,000 crore in 2008-09. The target for agriculture credit flow for the year 2009-10 is being set at Rs. 3,25,000 crore.
* Under the interest subvention scheme for short-term crop loans to farmers for loans upto Rs.3 lakh per farmer, the interest rate has been fixed at 7 per cent per annum. However, additional subvention of 1 per cent on the part of the Government would bring down the net interest rate for these farmers to 6 per cent per annum.
* Under the Agricultural Debt Waiver and the Debt Relief Scheme, the last date to repay back 75% of the outstanding loans by farmers owning more than two hectares of land has been extended from 30 June to 31 December, 2009 due to late arrival of the monsoon.
* A special taskforce would be prepared to seriously check the debt crisis in Maharastra, where farmers have borrowed from private moneylenders.
* The allocation for Rastriya Krishi Vikas Yojana has been increased by 30% over Budget Estimates of 2008-09.
* During 2008-09, NREGA provided employment opportunities for more than 4.47 crore households as against 3.39 crore households covered in 2007-08. An allocation of Rs.39,100 crore for the year 2009-10 for NREGA has been made, which amounted to an increase of 144% over 2008-09 Budget Estimates. Hope, the NREGA funds are utilized for watershed management and rainwater harvesting.
* The Food Security Act would ensure that every family living below the poverty line in rural or urban areas will be entitled by law to 25 kilos of rice or wheat per month at Rs. 3/- per kilo. The Government of India proposes to put the draft Food Security Bill on the website of the Department of Food and Public Distribution for public debate and consultations very soon.
* An allocation of Rs. 7000 crore has been made to Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana, which represents a 27 per cent increase over 2008-09 (BE).
* The allocations for Bharat Nirman has been stepped up by 45 per cent in 2009-10 over the BE of 2008-09.
* An allocation of Rs. 100 crore has been made for a new scheme named Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana for 44,000 villages, where population of scheduled castes exceeds 50%.
* Swarna Jayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojna (SGSY) is being restructured as the National Rural Livelihood Mission to make it universal in application, focused in approach and time bound for poverty eradication by 2014-15.
* Seeing that 22,000 Self-help groups (SHGs) are currently linked with banks, the Government has proposed to enroll at least 50% of all rural women in India as members of Self-help groups (SHGs) over the next five years.
* The corpus of the Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK) would be raised from Rs. 100 crore to Rs. 500 crore over the next 5 years.
* A National Mission for Female Literacy has been mentioned.
* An increase of Rs. 2,057 crore over and above Rs. 12,070 crore provided in the Interim Budget would be made on National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).
* An amount of Rs. 350 crore, marking 40% increase over the previous allocation, is being provided in 2009-10 Budget Estimates for the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY).
* The budgetary outlay for the National River and Lake Conservation Plans has been increased to Rs. 562 crore in 2009-10 from Rs. 335 crore in 2008-09.
* The Finance Minister has proposed to increase the personal income tax exemption limit by Rs.15,000 from Rs.2.25 lakh to Rs.2.40 lakh for senior citizens.
* The basic customs duty on permanent magnets-a critical component for Wind Operated Electricity Generators-has been reduced from 7.5 per cent to 5.00 per cent to enhance environment-friendly energy creation.
* The Budget has reduced the basic customs duty on LCD panels from 10 per cent to 5 per cent in order to support indigenous production of LCD televisions. Excise duty on petrol-driven trucks and lorries has also been reduced to 8 per cent from 20 per cent. The Government has reduced additional excise duty on those with engine capacities of 2,000cc and above by Rs. 5,000 per unit.
* The Government has reduced basic customs duty on influenza vaccine and nine other specified life-saving drugs used for treating breast cancer, hepatitis-B, rheumatic arthritis, etc.
* The exemption limit for income tax for women raised by Rs 10,000 to Rs 190,000. For all others, exemption limit raised by Rs 10,000 from Rs 150,000.
* No change in corporate tax. IT returns to be made simpler.
* Fringe Benefit Tax abolished.
* Minimum Alternate Tax on book profits increased to 15 per cent from 10 per cent.
* Commodities Transaction Tax abolished.
* First Unique Identification Card to citizens to roll out in 12-18 months. FM proposed Rs. 120 crore (Rs 1.2 billion) for the project.
* 100 per cent tax deduction for donations for electoral funds to improve transparency in political funding.
Friday, June 26, 2009
The World Development Report 2008: Agriculture for Development, which has been released in 2007 by the World Bank, categorizes countries into agriculture-based countries, transforming countries and urbanized countries. It says that China (1981-85 to 1996-2001) and India (1965-70 to 1989-94) moved over the evolutionary paths from the agriculture-based to transforming group over the last 15-25 years. It is mentioned in the Report that transforming countries have been the fastest growing, with gross domestic product (GDP) growth exceeding 6 percent a year since 1990, and with China, India, and Vietnam recently growing at more than 8 percent. The Report, however, misses out to predict the world food and fuel crises that took place in the year 2008, just one year after its release, which adversely affected the poorer nations from Asia and Africa. Indian economy is presently passing through a difficult time. According to the newly released Reserve Bank of India Bulletin (May, 2009), foodgrains production in India is expected to decline by (–) 1.26 percent from 230.8 million tonnes in 2007-08 to 227.9 million tonnes in 2008-09. The Report informs that India is currently at a nascent stage to develop biofuel from oil-rich plants like jatropha, pongamia, and other feed stocks. The risks associated with biofuel production from crops in terms of price rise, environmental degradation et al have been well discussed. It has been argued that India is yet to reap the full benefit of biotechnology.
Supermarkets that engage in food sales are mushrooming rapidly in India, the Report mentions. In fact, the Supermarket revolution has just raised its hood. Wealthier farmers capture a disproportionate share of the benefits of facilities in congested wholesale markets in India. Competition is pushing some small retail stores and processors to grow and upgrade their services in order to exist. It is now a matter of “perform or perish” for the small retailers and the petty vegetable vendors. Lack of proper market infrastructure leads to damage of agricultural produce and has a dampening impact on agri-trade. The Report reminds us that investment in roads contributed to agriculture’s growth during the 1970s. Commodity futures exchanges are running successfully in India and are effective in risk management of the commodities traded. The establishment of 6,400 Internet kiosks called e-Choupals in nine Indian states, reaching about 38,000 villages and 4 million farmers, by the ITC has enabled the farmers to get free information on local and global market prices, weather, and farming practices.
China, India, Vietnam, and other countries experienced fall in poverty levels when they went through major spurts of agricultural growth, just as industrial take-offs and rising incomes followed in the wake of major spurts of agricultural growth in Japan and the Republic of Korea. In this way, the Report endorses the thesis that the transfer of a large agricultural surplus was a precondition for initiating a process of industrialization in less developed countries (Kay, 2009). Kay (2009) shows that in South Korea and Taiwan, the State played a pivotal role in the process of surplus creation, extraction and transfer from agriculture to industry. It created both the conditions for productivity growth in agriculture as well as securing the transfer of much of this growth to the industrial sector via such mechanisms as taxation and manipulation of the terms of trade in favour of industry. Technological innovations (via the diffusion of high yielding varieties) in India and institutional innovations (via the household responsibility system and market liberalization) in China led to major declines in rural poverty and rapid agricultural growth. Some of the lagging areas such as central and eastern India have good potential for agricultural growth and could become future breadbaskets, the Report predicts. Bihar has the potential to increase its agricultural productivity. The yawning disparity in rural-urban incomes over the years is striking. Reducing rural poverty via agricultural development is a major concern today in the midst of economic liberalization. States with better track records of farm productivity and standards of living would face more poverty-reducing effects owing to non-farm economic growth, the Report suggests.
The role of C Subramaniam who persuaded Indian parliamentarians and skeptics in the Planning Commission about the green revolution has been mentioned in the Report. India’s concern about food security grew out of the United States’ treatment of food aid as an instrument of foreign policy during the 1960s. The importance of education in reducing poverty, accelerating agricultural development and adoption of new technologies has been highlighted in the Report. During the heydays of green revolution, education had higher returns in regions with higher rates of adoption of the new seeds in India. However, subsidies on inputs has mainly benefited the large farmers vis-à-vis the small and marginal farmers, and has actually reduced the scope of much-needed public investment in core public goods such as rural infrastructure. In the case of the Indian sugar cane cooperatives, large growers depress the price of sugar cane to the detriment of small farmers, which generates retained earnings within the cooperatives that large farmers can then siphon off through various means.
The Report informs that Indian agriculture is mainly rain-fed, which increases the vulnerability to weather shocks and limits the ability to exploit known yield-enhancing technologies. Irrigation systems in the pre-Independence days helped the spread of much feared disease-malaria. However, malaria could be controlled by modifying or manipulating agricultural water systems. In the early 1900s, better maintenance and improvements of irrigation and drainage systems reduced the incidents of malaria cases by more than half in the Arab Republic of Egypt, India, and Indonesia. In the present times, water scarcity is particularly acute and projected to worsen with climate change and rising demand in the Middle East, North Africa, and large parts of India and China. Higher reliance on groundwater irrigation has led to overpumping, falling groundwater tables in aquifers with low recharge, and deteriorating groundwater quality. The advent of tubewell and treadle-pump technology in the 1990s was behind the successful transformation in South Asia’s poverty triangle—Bangladesh, eastern India, and Nepal’s Terai region, the Report says. Small farmer-controlled irrigation using simple low-cost technologies—river diversion, lifting with small (hand or rope) pumps from shallow groundwater or rivers, and seasonal flooding also enjoys local success. Rising prices of fertilizers may have a dampening effect on usage and crop productivity, the Report anticipates.
The WDR 2008 asks for diversification of Indian agriculture towards high-value crops such as horticulture and floriculture so as to promote income-generation among the small and marginal farmers. It informs that markets for higher value products such as horticulture are growing at 6 percent a year in India. Horticulture, livestock, and other high-value activities offer considerable potential for employment generation and productivity growth. The private sector and the market have guided the horticultural revolution, says the WDR 2008. However, the Report fails to convince what would happen to farmers pursuing horticulture if the price of their produce plummets due to further integration of global economies. Bringing more land under horticulture might affect India’s self-sufficiency in foodgrain production, which the Report fails to tell. Further, shortage of storage and transportation facilities could inhibit the growth of markets in perishables.
India has reduced its anti-agricultural bias substantially over the past three decades, not only directly but also indirectly via cuts to manufacturing protection. The Report could have, however, mentioned that terms of trade turned against agriculture from 1999–2000 to 2004–05 that reduced profitability of cultivation (Planning Commission, 2007). The WDR 2008 makes a passing remark on farmers’ suicides in India. At the national level, 48.6 farmer households were indebted during 2003, according to the Situation Assessment Survey of Farmers: Indebtedness of Farmer Households, National Sample Survey 59th Round (January-December 2003). We know that indebtedness is one of the causes behind farmers’ suicides.
The Report provides some concrete facts regarding the employment scenario in Indian agriculture. It says that the Asian green revolution initially provided a “big push” for the demand for labor and reduced poverty through year-round employment and higher real wages. However, later adoption of direct seeding, tractors, and threshers led to a subsequent decline in agricultural employment in India and the Philippines. India has witnessed a considerable decline in the number of permanent workers; the majority of agricultural wage employment is now casual. The proportion of casual workers increased from 65 percent in 1972 to 80 percent in 2002 among male wage earners, and from 89 percent to 92 percent among female. Poverty incidence among casual workers reached 49 percent in 1993/94, almost three times the 17 percent for permanent workers. In India, while agricultural wages remain low, there is evidence of convergence between rural non-agricultural wages for casual workers and urban wages. The proportion of wageworkers increased from 42 percent to 47 percent from 1987/88 to 1993/94, with little change since then. In contrast, the share of wage labor does seem to be falling in some Latin American countries. In India, more than 100 million workers, almost half the agricultural labor force, are in agricultural wage employment. The rural labor force is growing at 1.5 percent a year, adding 4 million new workers annually. In India, an analysis of 257 districts from 1956 to 1987 shows wages are very sensitive to rainfall shocks. Wages responded less in areas with better-developed financial services and better access to other markets, where laborers could find work. Econometric studies of India for 1958–94 where many of the rural poor are landless show price and wage effects of food crop productivity to be more important in reducing rural poverty in the long run than direct effects on farm incomes, which dominated in the short run.
Tenancy restrictions in India reduce productivity and equity. Lack of efficient land markets in China or and restrictions on land rental in India inhibited labor mobility. Land rental activity in India has declined sharply, from 26 percent in 1971 to less than 12 percent in 2001, contrary to trends in other countries, the Report says. However, renting continues to be an important means of accessing land. More number of households rented land in 2001 than the total number that benefited from land reforms Land sales and purchases contributed more than land reform to equalize India’s land ownership. Kay (2009) shows that unlike Latin American countries, in South Korea and Taiwan, the State changed class relations by reducing the political power of landlords and established the economic and political conditions favourable to rapid industrialization. The average landholding went down from 2.6 hectares in 1960 to 1.4 hectares in 2000, and it is still declining in India, the Report says. Although fragmentation of land holdings increases cost of cultivation and reduces profitability per unit of land under cultivation vis-à-vis large land holdings, there exist enough evidences to prove that smaller farms are more productive in terms of value of output compared to the larger ones. The Report fails to address the inverse relationship between farm size and productivity.
The Report mentions about the pivotal role played by Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in India that led to the development of non-farm enterprises. Education plays a key role to determine the fate of one’s employment in agriculture, both in China and India. Better education enables rural workers to find high-paying non-farm employment.
The Report acknowledges the collective actions of marginal farmers who worked via Indian Dairy Cooperatives Network in order to make India successful in milk production. It has been informed that Indian dairy cooperatives provide services to more than 12 million households, benefiting women in particular because of their role in dairy farming. Even the consumption of milk nearly doubled between the early 1980s and late 1990s due to the livestock revolution.
In India, the panchayati raj (village councils) reserve seats for women and for members of scheduled castes (SCs) and tribes (STs) that helps in decentralized decision-making, and provides space for need-based infrastructure development. Due to excessive regulations, companies engaged in biotechnology sector indulge in bribery. Rolling back the state would reduce corruption, suggests the Report. Such arguments have been aired earlier too so as to make room for privatization without adequate measures taken to ensure accountability. In fact, lack of regulatory mechanisms has caused the present global economic and financial crisis within the banking sector that has happened in countries from Europe and the United States. The shortsightedness of the WDR 2008 at this point becomes quite visible.
“Proponents of commercialization argue that a market-based system improves quality of care and efficiency, because of competition between providers and because consumers have more choices. Nothing could be farther from the truth…. Competition does not improve quality if people cannot make an informed choice….Instead multiple providers only target the affluent, and the poor are left with virtually no options. Private care is notorious for flouting regulations, and the necessity to regulate them places a burden on public finances. A system with multiple providers is inefficient, because it cannot make use of “economies of scale” in the case of purchases, or in the provision of services”(Civil Society’s Report to CSDH, 2007).
The Report adds that adoption of new technologies, especially information and communication technologies—ICTs (e-government), can reduce the scope for corruption, as with computerizing land records in Karnataka. The Report fails to mention the challenges faced by e-government projects in order to scale-up and replicate. Bribes paid annually by users of land administration services are estimated at $700 million in India. The private sector in India is presently investing in rural telecommunications infrastructure, which helps farmers to get information on farm related practices, weather and prices of commodities.
The WDR 2008 discusses the dangers of the adoption of green revolution technology. It is mentioned that in Punjab, extensive use of nitrogen fertilizer and pesticides has increased concentration of nitrates and pesticide residues in water, food, and feed, often above tolerance limits. Therefore, it is justified to adopt more diversified systems that can reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides (for example, mixed legume-cereal systems). Power, fertilizer, and output subsidies, which are provided to appease large farmers, discourage a shift to alternative cropping patterns. In the Punjab region, overexploitation of groundwater takes place thanks to the huge subsidies given on electricity. Moreover, minimum support prices (MSP) for rice increase the financial attractiveness of rice relative to less water-intensive crops, which makes depletion of ground water table more obvious.
South-South cooperation in R&D among Brazil, China, and India with modest funding has been emphasized by the Report. It can be deciphered from table 1 that R&D expenditure as a percentage of agricultural gross domestic product (GDP) has increased from 0.18 percent in 1981 to 0.34 percent in 2000. China’s (US$ 3,150 million) public agricultural R&D spending was almost twice as compared to that of India (US$ 1,858 million) in the year 2000. The impact of intellectual property rights (IPRs) under the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) has been discussed in the Report. It mentions that the present Indian government recognizes farmers’ capability to save, exchange and breed new seeds. The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001 has been enacted for the establishment of an effective system for protection of plant varieties, the rights of farmers and plant breeders and to encourage the development of new varieties of plants. The increasing adoption of Bt cotton by small and marginal farmers of India has been discussed. In Tamil Nadu, farmers suffered considerable income losses because they received spurious Bt cottonseeds. Hence, seed certification has been deemed important by the Report. Pro-poor public investment in technology has been suggested for easy access and faster dissemination of inputs of production.
Zero-tillage farming in the Indo-Gangetic plain of South Asia for rice and wheat cultivation has been considered as a good agricultural practice to increase yield levels. The Report informs that zero tillage with wheat succeeding rice is now the most widely adopted resource-conserving technology in the Indo-Gangetic Plain, especially in India with some 0.8 million hectares planted in 2004 using the method. The Report could have devoted some more pages for traditional farm practices, which are vanishing rapidly in the age of globalization.
In order to provide access to easy credit, branchless banking in the form of post offices, stores, gas stations, and input providers has been suggested. There are estimated 2.2 million self-help groups (SHGs) in India that collect savings from their members and either deposit them in rural banks or lend them to members. In India, a recent survey of 6,000 households in two states showed that 87 percent of the marginal farmers surveyed had no access to formal credit, and 71 percent had no access to a savings account in a formal financial institution. Lack of access to credit and insurance makes the small producers vulnerable to external shocks, finds the Report.
With a new government at the Centre and a delayed monsoon, the time is ripe enough to turn our attention to the formulation of Food Security Act. Perhaps, the WDR 2008 could help our policy-makers who are now thinking to provide 25 kg of cereals at Rs.3 a kg each month to the poor. One should also bear in mind the recent estimates of the UN Standing Committee on Nutrition (UNSCN), which suggests that soaring food prices combined with the global economic meltdown will push more than 1 billion of the world’s poorest people into hunger in 2009.
Civil Society’s Report to the Commission on Social Determinants of Health (2007), Social Medicine, pp. 192-211, Vol. 2, No 4,
Chapter 1: Agriculture, Volume III, Agriculture, Rural Development, Industry, Services and Physical Infrastructure, Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-2012), Planning Commission, Government of India
Kay, Cristobal (2009): Development strategies and rural development: Exploring synergies, eradicating poverty, The Journal of Peasant Studies, Vol.36, No.1, January 2009, 103-137
Report No. 498(59/33/1), Situation Assessment Survey of Farmers: Indebtedness of Farmer Households, National Sample Survey 59th Round (January-December 2003)
Reserve Bank of India Bulletin—May, 2009
World Development Report: Agriculture for Development 2008, World Bank, Washington D.C.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
The National Programme of Nutritional Support for Primary Education—NPNSPE (i.e. the national Mid Day Meal Scheme—MDMS) was initiated by India in the year 1995. Since then the number of states providing cooked meals rose sharply from early 2002 onwards, after a Supreme Court order (dated 28 November 2001) directed all state governments to introduce cooked mid-day meals in primary schools (NAC, 2004). The MDMS dates back to 1925 when Madras Corporation developed a school lunch programme [Deodhar et al, (2007)]. After Independence, school-feeding programme commenced in the state of Tamil Nadu during the year 1956 and got impetus under MG Ramachandran in the year 1982 [De, Noronha and Samson (2005)].
Effectiveness of MDMS
The purpose behind the MDMS was to enhance enrolment, retention, and participation of children in primary schools, simultaneously improving their nutritional status. The MDMS was revised and universalized in September 2004 and central assistance was provided at the rate of Re. 1.00 per child per school day for converting food grains into hot cooked meals for children in classes I–V in government, local body, and government-aided schools. The number of children covered under MDMS has increased from 3.34 crore in 3.22 lakh schools in 1995 to 12 crore in 9.5 lakh primary schools/ EGS (education guarantee scheme) centres in 2006–07. It is speculated that MDMS will cover about 18 crore children by the year 2008–09. The nutritional value of meals for upper primary children has been fixed at 700 calories derived from 150 gm of cereals and 20 gm of protein. The maximum permissible transport subsidy has been revised for Special Category States from Rs 50 to Rs 100 per quintal and for other States to Rs 75 per quintal. The scheme was revised in June 2006 to enhance the minimum cooking cost to Rs 2.00 per child per school day to provide 450 calories and 12 grams of protein. It has been reported that the MDMS has benefited 8.1% of rural population and 3.2% of urban population. The MDMS has catered to the nutritional needs of low-income groups in both rural and urban areas (Planning Commission, 2007).
Benefits of MDMS
The MDMS has many positive attributes such as a. Promoting school participation; b. Preventing classroom hunger; c. Facilitating the healthy growth of children; d. Intrinsic educational value; e. Fostering social equality; f. Enhancing gender equity; and g. Ensuring psychological benefits. In order to ensure transparency and accountability, it is required to display the following information suo-moto: a. Quality of food grains received, date of receipt; b. Quantity of food grains utilized; c. Other ingredients purchased, utilized; d. Number of children given mid day meal; e. Daily Menu; and f. List of community members involved in the programme. The Department of Science & Technology (DS&T) has been entrusted the Thrust Area item TA24 on ‘Firming up Science & Technology Application in Mid Day Meal’ by the Prime Minister’s Office. The overall objective under the identified Thrust Area is to develop appropriate technologies and operational models that will improve the administration of Mid Day Meal Scheme i.e. ensure delivery of warm healthy meals to target groups without incurring high cost.
From the table 1, one can decipher that rice and wheat allocations for MDMS have declined in between 2001-02 and 2006-07. Rice allocation has declined from 18.67 lakh tonnes in 2001-02 to 17.17 lakh tonnes in 2006-07. Wheat allocation has declined from 9.96 lakh tonnes in 2001-02 to 4.17 lakh tonnes in 2006-07. Rice offtake as a percentage of rice allocation has declined from 72 percent in 2001-02 to 61 percent in 2006-07. Wheat offtake as a percentage of wheat allocation has declined from 73 percent in 2001-02 to 68 percent in 2006-07.
From the graph 1, one can decipher that allocation of foodgrains for the MDMS has steadily declined from 28.63 lakh tonnes in 2001-02 to 21.34 lakh tonnes in 2006-07, which appears dismal. If the MDMS is supposed to be responsible for ensuring enrolment, attendance and retention in schools, then a declining allocation for the MDMS is expected to adversely affect students' participation in primary education under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).
From the table 2, one can decipher that foodgrains allotted for MDMS under Central Assistance varies from 75,453.93 million tonnes in Uttar Pradesh to 21.01 million tonnes in Mizoram during 2007-08. The cooking cost varies from Rs. 10,060.52 lakh in Uttar Pradesh to Rs. 3.22 lakh in Mizoram. States like Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have been allocated Rs. 124.00 lakh, Rs. 120.00 lakh, Rs. 109.00 lakh and Rs. 258.00 lakh, respectively for management, monitoring and evaluation.
A new privately funded programme named Akshaya Patra School Meal Initiative, which has been started by Akshaya Patra Foundation (TAPF) is now a national programme. It is spread over six states, namely: Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Orissa—with 14 locations within these states. It caters to nearly 9.1 lakh children. The Naandi Foundation provides mid-day meal to more than a thousand government schools in Andhra Pradesh and about a thousand in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan (SSMI, 2008).
Lacunae in MDMS
The MDMS, like other schemes of the government, has been a victim of corruption and leakages. According to the Wikipedia (2009):
In January 2006, the Delhi Police unearthed a scam in the MDMS.
In December 2005, the police seized eight truckloads (2,760 sacks) of rice meant for primary schoolchildren being carried from Food Corporation of India (FCI) godowns in Bulandshahr district of Uttar Pradesh to North Delhi.
In November 2006, the residents of Pembong village under the Mim tea estate (around 30 km from Darjeeling), accused a group of teachers of embezzling mid-day meals.
In December 2006, The Times of India reported a scam involving government schools that siphon off foodgrains under the mid-day meal scheme by faking attendance.
According to a study of MDMS (termed as noon-meal scheme in Kerala) running in Kerala, which has been done by Gangadharan (2006): a. The physical facilities for MDMS are available only in 50% schools; 94% schools depend on firewood for cooking; separate building for kitchen outside class rooms are rare; adequate space is not there in 50% schools. School verandah is the main venue for serving food; b. The government grant is far less than the total expenditure in many schools. The average annual financial deficiency in schools is around 15%; c. Schools with less number of students have higher per day student expenditure; d. The Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) have yet to show active interest in the management of the programme; e. The average MDMS enrolment rate is between 85 and 95 percent; f. There is a demand that the menu should be improved and made more attractive and the noon meal programme be made a full-fledged School Lunch Programme meant for all teachers as well as students with partial or free packages; g. Storage provisions are rarely available in most of the schools; and h. The cooks engaged in schools are untrained, inexperienced, aged and educationally under-qualified.
A study of MDMS in Rajasthan by CUTS (2007) found: a. Initially, students were distributed boiled wheat supplemented with groundnut and jaggery (Gur) under the MDMS; b. More than 90% parents and students were satisfied with the MDMS; c. Each school is required to send a monthly expenditure statement and vouchers to the Panchayat Samiti, which is supposed to reimburse the amount within 15 days; d. Only 21% of the schools received the funds every month, in time. The rest got funds in a time ranging from 2 to 6 months (12% got funds once in 6 months); e. 97% of the teachers reported receiving good quality food grains; f. Only 23% of the schools were able to receive food grains after getting them weighed before delivery; g. The absence of a weighing mechanism in most schools makes it difficult to measure the quantity of food grains delivered; h. Most schools lack adequate cooking and storage facilities; i. 62% of the cooks interviewed said that the MDM was cooked in the open, which is unhygienic; and j. Teachers are spending close to 20% of their time or more on managing MDMS instead of teaching.
A study of MDMS in Delhi by De et al (2005) show: a. MDMS was officially implemented on 1 July 2003 in only 410 Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) schools. In the next phase, starting from September 2003, more schools were brought under the scheme, and all schools were covered since April 2004; b. MCD began with as many as 72 suppliers, which was whittled down to 56, then to 32 and presently consists of only 11 NGOs (non-government organizations), running 13 kitchens; c. The quality of rajma and vegetable pulao has not been upto the mark; d. Parents were never allowed to taste the meal distributed; e. Hygiene was seldom maintained in the case of MDMS; f. Some teachers preferred dry food instead of cooked meal; g. Most of the schools lack adequate infrastructure (including toilet facilities) for the successful implementation of MDMS; h. Serving of meal by various contractors under the disguise of NGOs has become a business venture; i. A few school children found the food very unattractive. Some said that eating the food made them ill; and j. Some parents felt that the food served was not sufficient for growing children.
A field survey so as to assess and monitor MDMS in Rajasthan, Karnataka, and Chattisgarh, was conducted by the Centre for Equity Studies (Delhi) in early 2003. The main findings are: a. In 76 of the 81 sample schools, investigators found that mid-day meals were being served regularly; b. Infrastructural facilities (cooking shed, water supply, etc.) vary widely, and are often inadequate; c. Class I enrolment increased by 15% in the three states combined, between the 2001-02 and 2002-03 academic years; d. Since children often come to school without any breakfast, they find it difficult to concentrate on an empty stomach. Mid-day meals seem to have resolved this problem; e. Mid-day meals have also helped to avert an intensification of child undernutrition in many drought-affected areas; f. The experience of sharing a meal together may help overcome caste barriers. The survey found little evidence of open discrimination; g. Most lower-caste parents did not feel that their children had been subject to discrimination; and h. There has been upper-caste resistance to the appointment of dalit cooks.
A study conducted by Thorat and Lee (2004) at Indian Institute of Dalit Studies (IIDS), New Delhi show: a. Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, where one third of India’s dalits live, deny dalit and other poor children access to their legislated entitlements from the very beginning, by simply refusing to implement the shared, cooked, MDMS; b. The distribution of dry grain to government school children under the MDMS takes place in dominant caste localities; and c. Employment of dalit cooks is problematic in Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh.
A study conducted by Pratichi Trust (2005) in West Bengal show: a. The MDMS was started in some 1,100 primary schools in five districts (Murshidabad, Birbhum, Bankura, Paschim Midnapore, and Jalpaiguri) and extended to some other districts. A total of 5,200 primary schools were brought into the fold of the programme till March 31 2004; b. Only a few of the richer households, mainly of Caste Hindu background, were against the continuation of the MDMS; c. There were a handful of upper caste children, who in unison with their parents’ inhibition towards the meal showed their disliking towards the cooked meal; d. Some children highlighted the need for a change in the monotonous menu of khichuri (made of boiled rice, pulses, turmeric, little oil and local vegetables) everyday; e. Inadequate salaries were paid to the cooks; f. In most of the schools, it was reported that the conversion cost was found too inadequate to make a proper meal; and g. The scope for involving the parents in the process of implementation of the programme was very limited.
Recently, it has been noticed that Ms. Renuka Chowdhury, the Union Minister of State for Women and Child Development, has become keen on public-private partnership for delivering ready-to-eat packaged food in schools instead of cooked meal. Many feel that such a move would lead to intensification of Contractor Raj and would create obstacle towards decentralization. The Ministry has tried to project that hot cooked meal has failed to address malnutrition in order to introduce ready-to-eat packaged food under the MDMS (SSMI, 2008). In Chattisgarh, the involvement of Mithanins has contributed to reduction of teacher absenteeism and misbehavior of teachers in the schools and has increased effectiveness of the MDMS.
Recent policy measures
In 2007-08, Central Government approved the inclusion of Inflation Adjusted Index (Consumer Price Index) for calculation of central assistance towards cooking cost once in every two years, which will be applicable from 2008-09 for primary and upper primary stages (Economic Survey, 2007-08). An allocation of Rs. 8000 crore for the MDMS has been done during the Interim Budget 2009-10.
Provision of dry rations and biscuits, which were part of the NPNSPE before the Supreme Court order on cooked meals has shown that children often did not consume these. Although MDMS has ensured enrolment but it had little impact on attendance and retention levels [Baru et al (2008)]. Records at the Department of Public Instruction show that school attendance has improved since the introduction of the MDMS by 2-10% across Karnataka (Ravi, 2006). Since the Supreme Court says that the onus to monitor the implementation of the scheme essentially lies with the Central government, as it is the Central government that is providing assistance, it is important that leakages from the MDMS should be stopped at all cost. The quality of cooked food served needs to be enhanced. More allocation of funds for MDMS would be able to attract students in the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and increase retention in schools (Zaidi, 2005). Free mid-day meals for school students were first introduced in a Japanese private school in the late 1800s, in Brazil in the year 1938 and in the United States in the year 1946 (Parikh and Yasmeen, 2004). Seeing the experiences of countries like Brazil, the United States and Japan, the MDMS should not be discarded by the government.
 NAC (2004): Recommendations on Mid-day Meals (based on deliberations of the National Advisory Council on 28 August 2004, http://pmindia.nic.in/nac/communication/meal.pdf
 Deodhar, Satish Y et al (2007): Mid Day Meal Scheme: Understanding Critical Issues with Reference to Ahmedabad City, Working Paper No. 2007-03-03, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad
 De, Anuradha, Noronha, Claire and Samson, Meera (2005): Towards more benefits from Delhi’s midday meal scheme, CORD—Collaborative Research and Dissemination, New Delhi, October, http://www.righttofoodindia.org/data/cord2005mdmdelhi.doc
 Planning Commission (2007): Chapter 1: Education, Government of India,
 SSMI (2008): Brief Report of the National Seminar on Feeding the Child, Organized by the Swami Sivananda Memorial Institute (SSMI), India International Centre (IIC), New Delhi, 26 February,
 Wikipedia (2009): Mid day Meal Scheme, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mid-day_Meal_Scheme
 Gangadharan, VA (2006): Noon Meal Scheme in Kerala,
 CUTS (2007): Measuring Effectiveness of Mid Day Meal Scheme in Rajasthan, India, CUTS Centre for Consumer Action, Research & Training (CUTS CART) in partnership with the World Bank, March
 De, Anuradha, Noronha, Claire and Samson, Meera (2005): Towards more benefits from Delhi’s midday meal scheme, CORD—Collaborative Research and Dissemination, New Delhi, October, http://www.righttofoodindia.org/data/cord2005mdmdelhi.doc
 Centre for Equity Studies (2003):
 Thorat, Sukhdeo and Lee, Joel (2004): Dalits and the right to food: Discrimination and exclusion in food related government programs, Indian Institute of Dalit Studies (IIDS), http://www.righttofoodindia.org/data/thorat_dalitsrtf.doc
 Pratichi Trust (2005): Cooked mid-day meal programme in West Bengal–A study in Birbhum district, http://www.righttofoodindia.org/data/mdm_pratichi_birbhumstudy.doc
 SSMI (2008): Brief Report of the National Seminar on Feeding the Child, Organized by the Swami Sivananda Memorial Institute (SSMI), India International Centre (IIC), New Delhi, 26 February, http://www.righttofoodindia.org/data/Report_of_the_seminar_on_feeding_the_child08.pdf
 Baru, Rama et al (2008): Full Meal or Package Deal?, Economic and Political Weekly, 14 June, http://www.righttofoodindia.org/data/baruetal08full-meal-or-package-deal.pdf
 Ravi, Padmalatha (2006): School meals make slow progress, India Together,
 Zaidi, Annie (2005): Food for education, Volume 22 - Issue 05, Feb. 26 - Mar. 11, Frontline, http://www.frontlineonnet.com/fl2205/stories/20050311000704900.htm
 Parikh, Kalpana and Yasmeen, Summiya (2004): Groundswell for mid-day meal scheme, India Together, http://www.indiatogether.org/2004/jan/pov-midmeal.htm