Notes from the Right to Food Campaign 1

The campaign is new and does not cover all constituencies. Having a start in drought circumstances, employment is an important issue for the campaign. Social security for the destitute has been another area that has been taken up by the campaign so far. The other broad theme that the campaign has worked on is nutrition for children. A lot of work has gone into the mid day meal scheme. The following schemes have been the choice of the campaign to cover the constituencies cited above.

i. Employment guarantee scheme. Unskilled manual labour without any ‘labour ceiling’ fits very well with the idea of universal access with self-selection. The employment guarantee scheme combines this quality along with the rights based approach.

ii. Social security for the destitute: A combination of social welfare pension schemes, Annapurana and Antyodaya anna yojana provide the potential for being a social security mechanism for the destitute. All these schemes have favourable field reports. To these a major departure that is being advocated is to make social security a matter of right. Currently there is a lot of discretion in how much resources the government wants to spend on social security. Local officials have a lot of discretion in choosing the beneficiaries. This results in under-funded schemes, part of which goes to undeserving people. Making social security a matter of right will help in both these questions. Some headway has already been made in Antyodaya anna yojana. An application has been filed in the Supreme Court as a part of PUCL Vs UoI and Ors arguing that some social categories like widows and old people without support, families with disabled members, and others should be eligible for an Antyodaya card as a right.

iii. Mid-day meal scheme: the scheme is well on its way to being implemented all over the country. Currently the campaign is advocating full coverage of all government and government aided primary schools, and also for improvements in the scheme.

iv. Integrated child development scheme: the scheme reaches a crucial age group, but has major drawbacks. The coverage of the scheme has to be expanded and many improvements have to happen in the implementation of the scheme.

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.