The nationwide lockdown since March 25, 2020 can potentially create food shortages and hunger issues for more than 2/3rd of the Indian population which relies on the public distribution system for affordable food. The Food Corporation of India hence becomes an important institution that can provide for this needy population during the lockdown period when all the economic activity is at standstill.
The Union Budget 2019-20 saw an increased focus on food fortification. India is currently suffering from nutrition insecurity despite the progress made in food production capacity and food security. Regardless of all the poverty alleviation and food security schemes, currently, 38% of children under 5 years are stunted, 36% are underweight and 21% are wasted (too thin for their height). This is a sign of acute under-nutrition. Furthermore, 59% of women and 53% of children are anaemic. The government’s intervention to address this issue is a need of the hour.
The Public Distribution System, India’s landmark food security system, was commenced in 1944 to address the poverty that was affecting the country during that time. It is a vital instrument that ensures the availability of certain essential commodities at an affordable price for the poor. Regardless, this system is often criticized for its inefficiency and corruption. The low-quality food grains from the ration shops are not enough to address the needs of the poor. India has the largest stock of grains in the world besides China. Yet, 21% of the Indian population remains undernourished. The government must address the corruption, inefficiency and low-quality food grains of the PDS for its success.