Indira tag for food scheme

Indira tag for food scheme

The Centre is all set to name the national food security scheme “Indiramma Anna Yojana” after former prime minister Indira Gandhi.

In a bid to prevent opposition-ruled states from claiming credit for the scheme, 5-kg grain bags will have “Indiramma” and a distinct logo embossed on them to affirm that it was a UPA initiative. The Union Ministry of Food and Consumer Affairs had invited suggestions for the logo.

Though the ministry said the 5-kg bags were intended to curb pilferage, the Centre apparently wants to ensure that the opposition-ruled states do not get any political mileage from the scheme ahead of elections.

According to the scheme, every beneficiary is entitled to 5 kg of foodgrain per month. “Unlike the present system where PDS shops weigh and then distribute foodgrain to the beneficiaries, the items now would be packed and handed over through the national food security scheme so that the states can’t deny the Centre credit,” a senior Food Ministry official told Deccan Herald.

“The effort is to not only to reap political dividends but also to ensure that the flagship food scheme remains a Congress legacy,” said a senior Congress leader.

The UPA government was always worried that the opposition-ruled states may either hijack the scheme or delay its implementation. At a meeting of state unit presidents, many leaders had urged the party to name the scheme after Rajiv Gandhi.

However, the government decided to go with “Indiramma,” as suggested by party president Sonia Gandhi.

Food Minister K V Thomas, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh and former Union minister Mani Shankar Aiyar finalised “Indiramma,” which reflects the importance accorded to mothers by the legislation, while retaining the Gandhi family’s name. The food security law recognises the eldest woman of the household as the head of the family.

“Indiramma” thus became a suitable choice. Besides, it was Indira Gandhi who, ahead of the 1971 elections, floated the party’s “Garibi Hatao” agenda. At present, there are over 130 schemes and institutions in the country named after Indira Gandhi.

The Bureau of Indian Standard, an organisation under the Ministry of Food and Consumer Affairs, is working on methods to pack and distribute the 5-kg bags. The ministry is likely to ask the Food Corporation to pack the foodgrain and supply them. It will be implemented in Haryana and Andhra Pradesh by December on a pilot basis.

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