12 April, 2021

Thought For Food

Even the worst-governed states can improve their PDS and ensure grain for the poorest. Look at Madhya Pradesh.

Jessica Pudussery
Thought For Food

THE National Food Security Act (NFSA),  2013, is not in very good health. Two years after it came into force, just a few states are implementing it. Others are still struggling with the identification of eligible households, public distribution system (PDS) reforms and other preparations. Yet, recent evidence suggests that some states have been able to use the act with good effect—and there are critical lessons for the laggard states.

An unlikely pioneer in this field is Bihar, one of the first states to implement the NFSA. Bihar’s PDS used to be one of the worst in India, with leakages in the range of 80-90 per cent throughout the 2000s. In earlier work, we have documented how the roll-out of NFSA in Bihar has been associated with major improvements in the functioning of the PDS. The list of eligible households is also more inclusive, logical and reliable than the earlier below poverty line (BPL) list. Bihar has a long way to go before it has a well-functioning PDS, in tune with the NFSA, but it has already made more progress than was thought possible...

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