Notes from the Right to Food Campaign 1

District wise information is available with each state on how much money has been allocated to each district; allocation of grain; how much of cash and grain have been claimed (lifted) by the districts and how much have been utilised; details of numbers and categories of people employed (women / men; SCs, etc); details of assets created; number of works started and completed; etc. Using these the states have now been questioned where they are not using the resources. This information is also shared with the network. This process shall create additional pressure for the government in using their funds. It will also enable the network to build pressure to use available funds when they get to know of it.

As the system grows certain other measures are being pondered. One method that is being considered is to take up some ‘worst performing districts’ and to thoroughly go through the performance making the district and the state officials account for the lack of performance to the commissioner. One idea would be to do it in districts where a ‘starvation death’ is reported. We could also choose an area where the incidence of malnutrition is very high. These measures can put a lot of pressure on the administration, not just in the chosen district, but also in others through demonstration effects.

Public hearings and social audits

Public hearings were conducted in various districts of Orissa where people streamed in to share about the condition of their lives. An important part of the testimonies were about how they were not receiving their rations, about cooked mid-day meal not being provided in their schools and of other benefits they were not receiving. District administrators were present in some of these hearings. In all the hearings reports on the dysfunctionality of the schemes were made and they became rallying points for local campaigns.

Public hearings also help in disseminating information about the entitlements that people have. At the same time it provides a platform for them to voice their concerns about not receiving their entitlements. This makes it a potential combination to bring pressure on the administration.

About Vivek Srinivasan

I work with the Program on Liberation Technology at Stanford University. Before this, I worked with the Right to Food Campaign and other rights based campaigns in India. To learn more, click here.

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One thought on “Notes from the Right to Food Campaign

  • Tanuj

    I started reading about right to food after the bill was passed, and got to know about the campaign that ran behind it for more than 10 years. I grew more interested in the campaign and activism that supported it, after I read a few snippets about it in a few articles, specially about the action day for mdm in 2002. I was searching about it, and landed up in this site. These notes give a great structure to the ideas behind the campaign.
    If there are any notes or articles or books that have a memoirs of being part of this campaign, or talk of the different activities that were carried out through out the campaign, then I would be really obliged if you can direct me to such resource.