Food Security should be universal : Swaminathan

Food Security should be universal : Swaminathan

Eminent economist Madhura Swaminathan today said the UPA government's flagship 'Food Security Bill' should have a universal appeal as any targeted selection would lead to complications in picking beneficiaries in a big country like India.

The Indian Statistical Institute Professor, whose research interests fall in the area of food security, agriculture and rural development, said "the draft Bill, as envisaged currently, will exclude a huge segment of the population."

(And) "Experience shows that in any targeted scheme a significant segment of extremely poor and vulnerable part gets deprived," she said during an event organised by the North East Action group.

Swaminathan, a faculty member at the Kolkata-based Indian Statistical Institute and also member of central government's expert committee on long term grain policy, said a selective subsidy scheme is feasible only when the targeted segment is small.

"The government is giving the example of Mexico and Brazil to argue for cash transfer to targeted segments. But while the level of malnourishment among children is 5-6 per cent in Mexico and Brazil, it is 46 per cent in India. With such a huge sample, how do you ensure that none of the poor families are left out," she said.

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