Ans. Rationing system is the controlled distribution of scarce resources. This system was introduced in India in 1940s against the backdrop of the Bengal famine. In India certain food grains, sugar, cereals and kerosene are distributed through a network of ration shops to those living under or above the poverty line at subsidized rate to ensure food security. Any family with a ration card can buy a stipulated amount of these items every month from the nearby ration shop.
Ans. In the wake of the high incidence of poverty levels, as reported by the NSSO in the mid-1970s, three important food intervention programmes were introduced:
Ans. The food procured by the FCI is distributed through government regulated ration shops among the poorer section of the society. This is called the public distribution system (PDS). Ration shops are now present in most localities, villages, towns and cities. There are about 5.5 lakh ration shops all over the country. Ration shops also known as Fair Price Shops keep stock of food grains, sugar, kerosene oil for cooking. These items are sold to people at a price lower than the market price. Any family with a ration card can buy a stipulated amount of these items every month from the nearby ration shop.
Ans. To ensure availability of food to all sections of the society the Indian government carefully designed food security system, which is composed of two components: (a) buffer stock and (b) public distribution system. In addition to PDS, various poverty alleviation programmes were also started which comprised a component of food security. Some of these programmes are: Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS); Food-for-Work (FFW); Mid-Day Meals; Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) etc. In addition to the role of the government in ensuring food security, there are various cooperatives and NGOs also working intensively towards this direction.
Ans. Chronic hunger is a consequence of diets persistently inadequate in terms of quantity and/or quality. Poor people suffer from chronic hunger because of their very low income and in turn inability to buy food even for survival.
Seasonal hunger is related to cycles of food growing and harvesting. This is prevalent in rural areas because of the seasonal nature of agricultural activities and in urban areas because of the casual labour, e.g., there is less work for casual construction labour during the rainy season. This type of hunger exists when a person is unable to get work for the entire year.
Ans. The poorest section of the society might be food insecure most of the times while persons above the poverty line might also be food insecure when the country faces a national disaster/calamity like earthquake, drought, flood, tsunami, widespread failure of crops causing famine, etc. Due to a natural calamity, say drought, total production of food grains decreases. It creates a shortage of food and the price goes up. At the high prices, some people cannot afford to buy food and it may cause a situation of starvation.
Nothing like the Bengal Famine has happened in India again. But there are places where famine-like conditions have been existed for many years and where some starvation deaths have also been reported. Therefore, food security is needed in a country to ensure food at all times.
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