Terming food security act as 'a revolutionary step' by Congress-led UPA government, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh today said it would not only ensure food for all, but also herald reforms in PDS and ration shops.
He was speaking after presenting the 'Excellence Award' to Miinster of state for Food K V Thomas, instituted by the Centre for Social Excellence and Development here.
Ramesh said though the Act would not be a revolution for people in Southern states, where there is a strong presence of ration-shops, it would bring about major changes in states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Jarkhand and Orissa, where 70 per cent India's poor people live. "For them it is truly a revolution," he added.
The minister said coverage of ration shops is more in states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu and leakage of food grains is low, whereas this was the reverse in other states.
"It is only a beginning... we have a long way to go', he said, adding reforms have to be brought about in Public Distribution System and ration shops.
Without naming emergence of AAP in the country, he said honouring Thomas for his key role in piloting Food Security Bill was also a message that "politicians make constructive contribution to society".
He said India was now witnessing an anti-politics culture. "When we open television channels, we see the manifestation of that. It is good to honour political leaders to recognise their work."
Claiming that the UPA government has fulfilled its poll promise made in 2009 by ensuring food for all, he said "if a film has to be made on the Act, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would be 'director' Congress President Sonia Gandhi the 'script writer' and the main actor would be Minister of state for Food K V Thomas.
The Act would ensure rice, wheat and grains to 75 per cent of rural population and 50 per cent in urban, Thomas said in his reply.