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When all trees have been cut down, when all animals have been hunted, when all waters are polluted, when all air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money. - Cree Prophecy

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Right to Food!

Heard of it? If not, you sure are a very wary citizen of India either occupied with cricket, job, movie, news channels or all of it. I could have been like you but was fortunate to receive a call from Dr. Suresh of PUCL (public Union of civil Liberties).
I didn’t see much representation, in the regular media, about this right to Food (National food security act) that is brewing up and to be introduced.It’s a new act to be promulgated by the parliament in next session as a step to eradicate hunger. As responsible citizens we have to voice our concerns and views.

There has been a good amount of debate, discussion evoked in many northern states (ofcourse by NGOs) but south has been lagging behind.
One such meet to discuss the various issues behind this act was organised on 24th Oct at Chennai. Dr. Suresh, Advisor for Tamil Nadu to the Supreme Court Commissioner on Food Security, was the brain behind this program to consult on what the draft says and whats left out, more importantly what needs to be included etc.
There were many stalwarts like Dr. G.Nammalvar, Mr.Pamaiyan of thalanmai uzhavar iyakkam, Prof.Poyyamozhi from Pondy university, Mr. Gopinath of MSSRF and many others who discussed this thread bare.
It was very educative and more importantly lotsa of insightful opinions were voiced. Its important to consult and give as much input as possible now, else it is tough to bring any changes (how ever valid and serious it could be) later once the law is promulgated.
Some salient points from various speakers:
-Right to food should offer security, livelihood & nutritional security.
-Of the 200 crore spent for food subsidy last year not even 40% reached the deserving. (infact 60% was absorbed, ofcourse illegally, by middlemen & businessmen-politico collaborators)
-Some said it should be called Food and Nutrition security act so that enough importance is given to nutritive value of the food dispersed
-Grievance/readdressal to be included and made fool proof
-Food commission to be installed at every district
-Millets to be included in the PDS(Public Distribution System) as well as in Noon meal schemes.
-The nutritional value and advantages for farmers (to grow these in drought and less rain/water conditions) of millets were highlighted; The balance it can bring to the p(a)late was impressed up on.
-Storage, storage capacity, access and distribution should be the focus area
-Importance of ecological balance and economical viability to be looked in detail
-Local production and local consumption to be kept in mind for sustainability
-Food sovereignty (rather than security) was highlighted too
-Water (resource, source and availability) to be treated along as an important and relevant issue.
-Uncultivated (wild) were more nutritional- someone highlighted. To the surprise of all of us gave lots of examples too!
-Issues pertaining to BPL (below poverty line) as well as APL to be addressed.
Talking of nutrition, there were many interesting stories & facts from various speakers. This anecdote from Nammalvar stood out. One (medical) doctor in one of the south TN towns called an organic shop guy and asked for 5 Kg husk (thavidu in tamizh) of organic rice but didn’t divulge why he needed it. Then when the same doc asked for more this org shop fella insisted on the use. The doc, it seems, said ‘ how much ever I ask the patients to consume fibre they don’t. So I made 200gms packet of the husk and gave to each patient and asked them to consume 2 spoons with their food/ each meal.’ Needless to state here it worked wonders..
More on RTF here!

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