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Class IX - social: Food Security in India
One Word Answer Questions:
Q) Expand TPDS? When it was introduced?
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Q) Expand AAY? When it was introduced?
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Q) Food which should be within reach of every person is known as?
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Q) Expand PDS?
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Q) Amul is another success story of cooperatives in milk and milk products from?
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Q) The most devastating famine that occurred in India was the FAMINE OF BENGAL in which year?
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Q) Name any one state which is more food insecure in India?
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Short Answer Questions:
Q) What happens to the supply of food when there is a disaster or a calamity?
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Q) Which states are more food insecure in India?
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Q) How is Food security ensured in india?
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Q) A section of people in India are still without food. Explain?
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Q) What are the problems of the functioning of ration shops?
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Q) Write a note on the role of cooperatives in providing food and related items?
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Q) Which are the people more prone to food insecurity?
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Q) What is Food Security? What are its dimensions?
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Q) Seasonal hunger is related to?
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Q) What is Minimum Support Price?
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Q) What is Buffer stock?
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Q) Do you believe that green revolution has made India self-sufficient in food grains? How?
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Long Answer Questions:
Q) What has our government done to provide food security to the poor? Discuss any two schemes launched by the government?
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Q) Differentiate between seasonal hunger and chronic hunger?
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Q) Explain in detail about Current Status of Public Distribution System?
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Food Security in India
  • Food security means availability, accessibility and affordability of food to all people at all times.
  • The poor households are more vulnerable to food insecurity whenever there is a problem of production or distribution of food crops.
  • Food security depends on the Public Distribution System (PDS) and government vigilance and action at times, when this security is threatened.
Food Security

Food is as essential for living as air is for breathing. But food security means something more than getting two square meals. Food security has following dimensions

  1. availability of food means food production within the country, food imports and the previous years stock stored in government granaries.
  2. accessibility means food is within reach of every person.
  3. affordability implies that an individual has enough money to buy sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet one's dietary needs.

Thus, food security is ensured in a country only if

  1. enough food is available for all the persons
  2. all persons have the capacity to buy food of acceptable quality
  3. there is no barrier on access to food.

Why Food Security
  • 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.
  • How is food security affected during a calamity? Due to a natural calamity, say drought, total production of foodgrains decreases.
  • It creates a shortage of food in the affected areas. Due to shortage of food, the prices goes up. At the high prices, some people cannot afford to buy food.
  • If such calamity happens in a very wide spread area or is stretched over a longer time period, it may cause a situation of starvation.
  • A massive starvation might take a turn of famine.
  • A Famine is characterised by widespread deaths due to starvation and epidemics caused by forced use of contaminated water or decaying food and loss of body resistance due to weakening from starvation.
  • The most devastating famine that occurred in India was the FAMINE OF BENGAL in 1943. This famine killed thirty lakh people in the province of Bengal.
YearProductionImportsExportsTotal availability

Starvation victims
During the Bengal Famine
  • Nothing like the Bengal Famine has happened in India again.
  • But it is disturbing to note that even today, there are places like Kalahandi and Kashipur in Orissa where famine-like conditions have been existing for many years and where some starvation deaths have also been reported.
  • Starvation deaths are also reported in Baran district of Rajasthan, Palamau district of Jharkhand and many other remote areas during the recent years.
  • Therefore, food security is needed in a country to ensure food at all times
Who are Food-Insecure
  • Although a large section of people suffer from food and nutrition insecurity in India, the worst affected groups are landless people with little or no land to depend upon, traditional artisans, providers of traditional services, petty self-employed workers and destitutes including beggars.
  • In the urban areas, the food insecure families are those whose working members are generally employed in ill-paid occupations and casual labour market.
  • These workers are largely engaged in seasonal activities and are paid very low wages that just ensure bare survival.
  • Run his family even with small earnings from rickshaw-pulling? The social composition along with the inability to buy food also plays a role in food insecurity.
  • The SCs, STs and some sections of the OBCs (lower castes among them) who have either poor land-base or very low land productivity are prone to food insecurity.
  • The people affected by natural disasters, who have to migrate to other areas in search of work, are also among the most food insecure people.
  • A high incidence of malnutrition prevails among women. This is a matter of serious concern as it puts even the unborn baby at the risk of malnutrition.
  • A large proportion of pregnant and nursing mothers and children under the age of 5 years constitute an important segment of the food insecure population.
  • The food insecure people are disproportionately large in some regions of the country, such as economically backward states with high incidence of poverty, tribal and remote areas, regions more prone to natural disasters etc.
  • In fact, the states of Uttar Pradesh (eastern and south-eastern parts), Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal, Chattisgarh, parts of Madhya Pradesh and Maharasthra account for largest number of food insecure people in the country.
  • Hunger is another aspect indicating food insecurity.
  • Hunger is not just an expression of poverty, it brings about poverty.
  • The attainment of food security therefore involves eliminating current hunger and reducing the risks of future hunger. Hunger has chronic and seasonal dimensions.
  • 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.
YearType of hunger






  • The percentage of seasonal as well as chronic hunger has declined in India as shown in the above table.
  • India is aiming at Self-sufficiency in Foodgrains since Independence. After independence, Indian policy makers adopted all measures to achieve self-sufficiency in food grains.
  • India adopted a new strategy in agriculture, which resulted in the'Green Revolution'especially in the production of wheat and rice.
  • Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, officially recorded the impressive strides of the Green revolution in agriculture by releasing a special stamp entitled 'Wheat Revolution' in July 1968.
  • The success of wheat was later replicated in rice. The increase in foodgrains was, however, disproportionate.
  • The highest rate of growth has been achieved in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, where foodgrain production reached an all-time high of 78.9 million tonnes in 2012-13.
  • Production of foodgrain in Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Assam, Tamil Nadu has dropped. West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, on the other hand, recorded significant increases in rice yield in 2012-13.
A farmer from punjab
Food Security in India
  • Since the advent of the Green revolution in the early-70s, the country has avoided famine even during adverse weather conditions.
  • India has become self-sufficient in foodgrains during the last thirty years because of a variety of crops grown all over the country.
  • The availability of foodgrains (even in adverse weather conditions or otherwise) at the country level has further been ensured with a carefully designed food security system by the government.
  • This system has two components: (a) buffer stock and (b) public distribution system.
Economic Survey 2011-12, 2013-14

What is Buffer stock
  • Buffer Stock is the stock of foodgrains, namely wheat and rice procured by the government through Food Corporation of India (FCI).
  • The FCI purchases wheat and rice from the farmers in states where there is surplus production. The farmers are paid a pre-announced price for their crops.
  • This price is called Minimum Support Price.
  • The MSP is declared by the government every year before the sowing season to provide incentives to the farmers for raising the production of these crops.
  • The purchased foodgrains are stored in granaries. Do you know why this buffer stock is created by the government?
  • This is done to distribute foodgrains in the deficit areas and among the poorer strata of society at a price lower than the market price also known as Issue Price.
  • This also helps resolve the problem of shortage of food during adverse weather conditions or during the periods of calamity
What is the Public Distribution System
  • 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 foodgrains, 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 (e.g. 35 kg of grains, 5 litres of kerosene, 5 kgs of sugar etc.) every month from the nearby ration shop.
  • The introduction of Rationing in India dates back to the 1940s against the backdrop of the Bengal famine.
  • The rationing system was revived in the wake of an acute food shortage during the 1960s, prior to the Green Revolution.
  • 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. Public Distribution System (PDS) for food grains(in existence earlier but strengthened thereafter), Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) (introduced in 1975 on an experimental basis) and Food-For-Work(FFW) (introduced in 1977-78).
  • Over the years, several new programmes have been launched and some have been restructured with the growing experience of administering the programmes.
  • At present, there are several Poverty Alleviation Programmes (PAPs), mostly in rural areas, which have an explicit food component also.
  • While some of the programmes such as PDS, mid-day meals etc. are exclusively food security programmes, most of the PAPs also enhance food security.
  • Employment programmes greatly contribute to food security by increasing the income of the poor.
Current Status of Public Distribution System
  • Public Distribution System (PDS) is the most important step taken by the Government of India (Go I) towards ensuring food security.
  • In the beginning the coverage of PDS was universal with no discrimination between the poor and non-poor.
  • Over the years, the policy related to PDS has been revised to make it more efficient and targeted. In 1992, Revamped Public Distribution System(RPDS) was introducted in 1,700 blocks in the country.
  • The target was to provide the benefits of PDS to remote and backward areas. From June 1997, in a renewed attempt, Targeted Public Distribution System(TPDS) was introduced to adopt the principle of targeting the 'poor in all areas'.
  • It was for the first time that a differential price policy was adopted for poor and non-poor. Further, in 2000, two special schemes were launched viz.. Antyodaya Anna Yojana(AAY) and the Annapurna Scheme (APS) with special target groups of 'poorest of the poor' and 'indigent senior citizens', respectively.
  • The functioning of these two schemes was linked with the existing network of the PDS. Some important features of PDS are summarised in Table.
  • The PDS has proved to be the most effective instrument of government policy over the years in stabilising prices and making food available to consumers at affordable prices.
  • It has been instrumental in averting widespread hunger and famine by supplying food from surplus regions of the country to the deficit ones.
  • In addition, the prices have been under revision in favour of poor households in general.
  • The system, including the minimum support price and procurement has contributed to an increase in food grain production and provide income security to farmers in certain regions.
  • However, the Public Distribution System has faced severe criticism on several grounds. Instances of hunger are prevalent despite overflowing granaries.
  • FCI go-downs are overflowing with grains with some rotting away and some being eaten by rats. The Graph shows the rising stocks of foodgrains till 2012.
Name of schemeYear of IntroductionCoverage target groupLatest volumeIssue price(Rs per kg)
PDSUp to 1992Universal-W-2.34
RPDS1992Backward blocks20 kg of food grainsW-2.80
TPDS1997Poor and non-poor
35 kg of food grainsBPL -W-4.15
AAY2000Poorest of the poor35 kg of food grainsW-2.00
APS2000Indigent senior citizens10 kg of food grainsFree
National Food Security Act(NFSA)2013Priority households5 Kg per person month W-2.00

Note: W-Wheat; R-Rice; BPL-Below poverty line; APL-Above poverty line

  • In 2014, the stock of wheat and rice with FCI was 65.3 million tonnes which was much more than the minimum buffer norms.
  • However, these remained consistently higher than the buffer norms.
  • The situation improved with the distribution of foodgrains under different schemes launched by the government.
  • There is a general consensus that high level of buffer stocks of foodgrains is very undesirable and can be wasteful.
  • The storage of massive food stocks has been responsible for high carrying costs, in addition to wastage and deterioration in grain quality.
  • Freezing of MSP for a few years should be considered seriously. The increased food grains procurement at enhanced MSP is the result of the pressure exerted by leading foodgrain producing states, such as Punjab, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh.
Levels of buffer stocks vs. norms for rice and wheat(million tonnes)
  • Moreover, as the pr ocurement is concentrated in a few prosperous regions (Punjab, Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and to a lesser extent in West Bengal) and mainly of two crops wheat and rice increase in MSP has induced farmers, particularly in surplus states, to divert land from production of coarse grains, which is the staple food of the poor, to the production of rice and wheat.
  • The intensive utilisation of water in the cultivation of rice has also led to environmental degradation and fall in the water level, threatening the sustainability of the agricultural development in these states.
  • As per the NSSO report No. 558 in rural India, the per person per month has declined from 6.38 Kg. in 2004-05 to 5.98Kg in 2011-12.
  • In urban India, the per person per month consumption of rice, too has declined from 4.71 Kg in 2004-05 to 4.19 Kg in 2011-12.
  • Per Capita consumption of PDS rice has doubled in rural India and increased by 66% in urban India since 2004-05.
  • The per Capita consumption of PDS wheat has doubled since 2004-05 in both rural and urban India.
  • PDS dealers are sometimes found resorting to malpractices like diverting the grains to open market to get better margin, selling poor quality grains at ration shops, irregular opening of the shops, etc.
  • It is common to find that ration shops regularly have unsold stocks of poor quality grains left. This has proved to be a big problem.
  • When ration shops are unable to sell, a massive stock of foodgrains piles up with the FCI.
  • In recent years, there is another factor that has led to the decline of the PDS. Earlier every family, poor and non-poor had a ration card with a fixed quota of items such as rice, wheat, sugar etc.
  • These were sold at the same low price to every family. The three types of cards and the range of prices that you see today did not exist.
  • A large number of families could buy foodgrains from the ration shops subject to a fixed quota.
  • These included low income families whose incomes were marginally higher than the below poverty line families.
  • Now, with TPDS of three different prices, any family above the poverty line gets very little discount at the ration shop.
  • The price for APL family is almost as high as open market price, so there is little incentive for them to buy these items from the ration shop.
Role of Cooperatives in Food Security
  • The cooperatives are also playing an important role in food security in India especially in the southern and western parts of the country.
  • The cooperative societies set up shops to sell low priced goods to poor people. For example, out of all fair price shops running in TamilNadu, around 94 per cent are being run by the cooperatives.
  • In Delhi, Mother Dairy is making strides in provision of milk and vegetables to the consumers at controlled rate decided by Government of Delhi.
  • Amul is another success story of cooperatives in milk and milk products from Gujarat.
  • It has brought about the White Revolution in the country. These are a few examples of many more cooperatives running in different parts of the country ensuring food security of different sections of society.
  • Similarly, in Maharashtra, Academy of Development Science (ADS)has facilitated a network of NGOs for setting up grain banks in different regions.
  • ADS organises training and capacity building programmes on food security for NGOs. Grain Banks are now slowly taking shape in different parts of Maharashtra.
  • ADS efforts to set up Grain Banks, to facilitate replication through other NGOs and to influence the Government's policy on food security are thus paying rich dividends.
  • The ADS Grain Bank programme is acknowledged as a successful and innovative food security intervention.
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