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Considered historic legislation, the NFSA, or the National Food Security Act, was established with the goal of providing the underprivileged population with particular entitlements and rights. These rights are aimed at enabling underprivileged households with appropriate nourishment and a healthy way of living. As the act was launched in 2013, it comprised a mid-day meal plan, a public system of food distribution, and integrated services related to child development.

Further, it is important to note that, under the act’s implementation, the Indian government has undertaken the allocation of subsidised food grains to more than 2/3rd of the population of India’s underprivileged. The National Food Security Act is especially focused on the infirm, destitute women, and the aged population.

Objectives and Important Features of NFSA

The NFSA full form is the National Food Security Act, and it has a single main purpose. This is to make food available to those who cannot afford it. Here are its objectives in more detail:

  • The sole objective and that which is related to all other aims of the food security act is to enable every Indian citizen to obtain adequate food.

  • Included in the same clause is the feature of provision of nutritional security by means of making food accessible quantitatively.

  • Food and nutrition must be made available qualitatively at prices that individuals can afford.

  • The food security act relates to the principles of the Indian Constitution that give the right to every citizen of India to live with dignity and with appropriate means of food consumption to have a healthy life.

Identification Coverage and Eligibility of Households

Under this specific food security act, there are particular households that are classified as ‘eligible’. These are further grouped into the following:

  • Households that are covered under the provisions of the AAY, or Antyodaya Anna Yojana.

  • Also under coverage are ‘priority households’ under the clauses of the TPDS, or Targeted Public Distribution System.

  • According to the most recent figures generated by the census, the population coverage is determined by the Central Government of India.

  • According to recent reports, the scheme is focused on 50% of the population living in urban India, and 75% living in the rural areas of India.

Food Entitlements and Security Allowance

Certain provisions of the act provide for entitlements to food and administer security allowances. Here are the special entitlements:

  • Under the act, every household that is covered will receive 5 kg foodgrains, per individual, each month.

  • Under the scheme of AAY, households are entitled to 35 kg foodgrains every month.

  • The cost of these foodgrains is specified as a maximum of Rs. 2 for every kg of wheat, Rs. 3 for every kg of rice, and Rs. 1 for every kg of coarse foodgrains, given for a 3-year period.

  • Prices of foodgrains are prefixed for a 3-year tenure, after which the Central Government’s fixed rates will prevail according to ‘Minimum Support Price’ criteria.

  • In the event of a shortage in foodgrains, beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act, 2013, will be duly compensated with a foodgrain security allowance. This allowance will be administered in the form of cash to buy food grains.

Special Focus on Women and Children

The food security act lays emphasis on women and children benefiting from the conditions of the act. Here are the principles of the act that give special focus to women and children:

  • Lactating and pregnant women can avail a free meal at any time during their pregnancy and this entitlement is valid for 6 months beyond childbirth.

  • Children, in the age range of 6 months to 6 years can receive meals free of cost. Additionally, children in the age range of 6 years to 14 years have the right to receive a meal at midday from government schools.

Empowerment of Women

The act is also responsible for some rights that enforce the empowerment of women. In this regard, the act has taken steps toward the following:

  1. For the primary issuance of entitlements under the act, the head of each household that fulfils eligibility has to be a woman.

  2. The woman who is the head of the household under this act must have reached the age of 18 (or above). In case this is not the case, the household’s eldest male will act as the head of the household.

Grievance Redressal

Under the regulations of the Food Security Act of 2013, every state of India is required to create a mechanism of redressal of any grievances. The systems under this may include helplines, nodal officers, call centres, etc.

Beneficiaries of the Targeted Public Distribution System

The Targeted Publication Distribution System or TPDS has beneficiaries and these are segregated into 3 primary categories:

  1. Above Poverty Line Households or APL -These households can apply for an APL ration card to be entitled to subsidies in foodgrains.

  2. Below Poverty Line Households or BPL - These households would have the right to hold a Food Security Ration Card or FSC.

  3. AAY Beneficiaries - Beneficiaries under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana scheme constitute the poorest households of people below the poverty line. Such households would also have a right to a Food Security Ration Card and include marginal farmers, rural craftsmen, and artisans, dwellers of slums, landless labourers, destitute individuals, etc.

TPDS Entitlements and Beneficiaries

The Targeted Public Distribution System under the NFSA provides for the following entitlements according to beneficiaries in different categories:

Beneficiary Category

Funds (in crores)

Foodgrains (Kg per household)

BPL

4.09

35

APL

18.04

15 - 35

AAY

2.43

35

What is the Meaning of NFSA in Ration Cards?

The National Food Security Act provides for ration cards to be issued to beneficiaries who are eligible to receive specific quotas of foodgrains under the conditions of the act. However, to obtain a ration card, an application has to be made, either online or offline, and there is a common process for every applicant in any Indian state, depending on the eligibility of the applicant.

Eligibility Criteria for Obtaining a Ration Card from the State Government

To obtain a ration card, an applicant must fulfil the following criteria of eligibility:

  • The applicant must be a citizen of India.

  • The applicant should not have a ration card pertaining to any other state.

  • The applicant must live in a household containing their family or close relatives.

Documents Required for a Ration Card

In support of an applicant’s eligibility, an applicant must furnish the following documents:

  • An application form, filled and duly signed

  • Identity Proof

  • Residence Proof

  • Photograph of the head of the household/family

  • The annual income document

  • Any old/cancelled ration card if applicable

 

A basic fee has to be paid to obtain a ration card, but once an applicant receives one, they are entitled to a host of benefits under the food security act. The main force behind the act is the provision of fulfilling a requirement of basic nutrition to every citizen of India, from those living in the most rural areas to metros. The aim of the act is clear in that every citizen in India should not be hungry at any cost.