Right to Food is equally important as any other fundamental right. Food is one of the most basic Human needs for survival, linked to the right to life.
At a recent event organised in Patna by Bihar Dalit Vikas Samiti (BDVS) and Lok Manch, a movement to ensure food security for the poor, several people shared their stories and problems about the defects in the public distribution system that makes essential foodgrains available to the poor at subsidized rates.
The Right to food was introduced to make the country free from hunger, malnutrition and to provide a dignified life, but it has not been yet implemented properly. This right does not mean charity, but to ensure that all people have the capacity to feed themselves with dignity. Even thought this ‘powerful right’ exists, people are still sleeping on empty stomachs, many are starving.
Right to food is recognized in the article 25 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. It has also been recognized in various national constitutions.
Many people in the country are suffering from different health issues because they are not getting adequate amount of nutritional food. People are dying because of starvation. Due to this, malnutrition is increasing and causing serious physical and mental issues, like lack of brain cell development.
Conditions of poor and marginalized are getting worse day by day, they are not getting adequate amount of ration which is approved for them.
The Lok Manch is an effort to empower poor people to plan their food security and access the privileges given under right to food.
Lalti Devi, 60 years old from Barachetti block, Gaya, is a roving peddler. She sells bangles in a basket. Her husband has abandoned her after she suffered three miscarriages. She is also a leader of Lok Manch in her village. She says that government has alloted them 5 kgs of foodgrain as the food ration under the PDS system. The dealer would not supply the grain regularly and did not provide them adequate amount. She complained and gave an application to the block development officer in her village. As a result, the PDS dealer has started disbursing 4 kgs of ‘ration’ every month.
“I am getting my 5 kgs but the other villagers who do not speak are denied the full quota ration. Dealers are making their lives hell. People are sleeping on empty stomachs.” she added.
The three main elements of rights to food are:
1 – Availability: It means that enough food must be produced for both present and future generation.
2- Adequacy: It refers that the food should be accessible both in quality and quantity.
3-Accessibility: Food must be accessible to everyone; cost should not be the reason for that.
We as a responsible and enlightened citizens should pressurize our government to enforce the Right to Food in an effective way. The government needs to ensure the benefits are accessed by the needy in adequate amount food. There is a saying in Awadhi that ‘’Bhukhe Pet Bhaje Na Gopala’’ which means that hungry stomach can’t even worship properly.
Our government should first ensure food for all, and then only the people of this country would be able to contribute to the progress and development of the nation and make our country a better place to live in.
Right to food is a human’s legal and clearly defined right which will help the state to reduce problems.