The bargaining begins
- BJP relents to Chandrababu Naidu's demands, alliance likely to continue
- Azam Khan threatens to move Supreme Court, slams EC's relief to Amit Shah
- PMO defends Manmohan Singh, says GDP has grown three times during UPA rule
- Kumar Vishwas files application alleging threat to life from Rahul and Priyanka
- IPL 7 Live Cricket Score, KXIP vs CSK: CSK remove KXIP openers in a hurry
The Food Security Bill is one of the UPA's most ambitious promises, one that it appears to be straining to introduce in the budget session. Like the MNREGS and the Right to Education earlier, it is being planned as a blockbuster welfare initiative, one the Congress can proudly present to the electorate in 2014. It is still riddled with difficult choices, however, that must be resolved. The political stakes riding on the bill should not be reason to rush it through.
For one, the standing committee has recommended a simple, single exclusion criterion, with a cap of 75 per cent of the rural population and 50 per cent of the urban, creating a 67 per cent national average. This ceiling is being challenged by many states, whose eligible population may or may not fit such a prescription. After applying the exclusion criteria, the Centre could consider the findings of the much delayed socio-economic caste census. This data could be seeded with Aadhaar to avoid pilferage. Second, the underlying problem with food security is the famously leaky, corruption-ridden public distribution system. States must have effective working systems before they can take on the scheme, and they must learn from the reforms and successes of others. Tamil Nadu's experience shows that civil society oversight can make a big difference. Chhattisgarh has made far-reaching reforms, handing over the running of PDS shops to community bodies, weeding out fake cards and using technology to monitor the movement of food. These learnings must be applied around the country and scaled up. The time for pilot schemes and district trials is over, PDS reform can no longer remain an experiment, or be optional for the states.
- As EC website crashes due to overload, party workers use apps to locate voters
- An entire society in Kothrud could not vote
- Chaos, anger across city over missing names
- Mulayam pushes third front, says will stake claim to PM post
- Don’t look at my candidates, votes for me: Maya to Dalits
- AAP biggies focus on Vishwas, Kejri seats, other units suffer