Ensuring Food Security and Nutrition with Public

  Aug 10, 2023

Public Distribution System:PDS, Food Security, and Nutrition Security



Q1: What is PDS?

A: PDS stands for Public Distribution System, a government initiative to provide food and non-food items to identified households at subsidised prices.

Q2: What is the main goal of PDS?

A: The main goal of PDS is to ensure food security by providing essential food items to vulnerable populations at affordable rates.

Q3: How has PDS helped India?

A: PDS has helped India avert major famines and provide food security to a significant population, contributing to the well-being of millions.

Q4: What is the focus of PDS in terms of food items?

A: PDS primarily focuses on providing foodgrains like rice and wheat, which provide calories to beneficiaries.

Q5: Has PDS addressed nutritional deficiencies in India?

A: No, PDS has not been able to address protein and micronutrient deficiencies prevalent in India due to its focus on foodgrain self-sufficiency rather than nutrition.

Q6: What is the Global Hunger Index ranking of India?

A: India ranks 101 on the Global Hunger Index 2021, based on indicators like undernourishment and child stunting.

Q7: How has PDS addressed the nutritional needs of vulnerable groups?

A: PDS could better serve pregnant and lactating women and children vulnerable to malnutrition with a focus on nutrient-dense food items and local preferences.

Q8: What is the National Food Security Act (NFSA)?

A: NFSA is a law that regulates PDS and aims to provide food and nutrition security to a significant portion of the population.

Q9: How does NFSA ensure food security?

A: NFSA entitles a significant percentage of the population to receive subsidised foodgrains through PDS.

Q10: What are the challenges of NFSA?

A: NFSA freezes the number of beneficiaries based on the 2011 census, potentially excluding eligible individuals due to population growth or poverty.

Q11: Can PDS be extended to a larger population?

A: Yes, PDS demonstrated flexibility during the Covid-19 lockdown by catering to a larger population, suggesting its potential for expansion.

Q12: What are the systemic issues with PDS?

A: Systemic issues include centralised procurement, storage limitations, distribution challenges, and identification of beneficiaries.

Q13: How does PDS affect agricultural practices?

A: Provision of MSP has led farmers to focus on rice and wheat cultivation, contributing to climate-unfriendly practices and environmental issues.

Q14: How is the distribution of foodgrains managed?

A: State governments distribute foodgrains through fair price shops based on central allocation and identification of beneficiaries.

Q15: What measures have been taken to address PDS issues?

A: Measures include digitisation of ration cards, Aadhaar integration, electronic Point of Sale (ePoS) devices, and inter-state operability.

Q16: How is PDS evolving to address current challenges?

A: The focus of PDS is shifting from food security to nutrition security, requiring changes in procurement, distribution, and food basket constituents.

Q17: How can PDS contribute to both human health and the planet's health?

A: Repurposing PDS for nutrition security can lead to healthier populations and environmentally sustainable practices.

Q18: What are the historical developments of PDS in India?

A: PDS was introduced by the British post-World War II and continued in independent India. RPDS and TPDS were introduced in the 1990s to enhance its reach and target the poor.

Q19: What is the need for repurposing PDS?

A: Repurposing PDS is necessary to address nutritional deficiencies and promote nutrition-sensitive approaches for better well-being.

Q20. Differentiate between Food and Nutrition Security.?

Food security refers to the availability, accessibility, and affordability of sufficient and safe food to meet basic dietary needs. It ensures that people have an adequate quantity of calories and nutrients to sustain themselves, preventing hunger and malnutrition.
Nutrition security, on the other hand, goes beyond food security. It encompasses not only the availability of food but also the intake of a diverse range of nutrients necessary for optimal physical and cognitive development. Nutrition security focuses on addressing micronutrient deficiencies and promoting a balanced diet to ensure good health, growth, and overall well-being.

Q21. What did the Parliamentary panel recommend?

A Parliamentary panel has recommended providing beneficiaries of government schemes like the Public Distribution System (PDS) with the option to bundle millets along with wheat and rice to promote millet consumption. The Standing Committee on Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution highlighted that millets have been a traditional part of the diet with numerous health benefits. The report emphasized the need to create awareness about millets among consumers and farmers to promote its production and consumption. The panel also recommended encouraging millet production in states with significant tribal populations and offering aid to farmers opting to grow millets. The goal is to shift from food security to nutrition security by incorporating diverse and nutritious food options into government schemes.


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