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May 02, 2020 01:00:00 | Firdous Ahmad Ahangar

Opportunities often come in dirty clothes

Food Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department (Erstwhile CAPD or Food & Supplies) has played a pivotal role in addressing hunger and maintaining food security among the poor and needy more so in times of natural disasters like floods, earthquakes in the valley. Having been part of this department post 2014 floods in the valley, reaffirmed my faith about its potential role and significance towards food security. Present challenge of Covid-19 pandemic has again brought us back to the roots of the problem, and again presented us an opportunity of blessing in disguise to remodel and modernise our ration ghats.

As they say “necessity is the mother of invention”, driving force behind any new policy or a scheme is often, if not always, introduced in the interest of public good due to some natural or manmade challenges or disasters or calamities like earthquake, drought, flood, tsunami, pandemic or epidemic diseases and widespread failure etc. The Famine of Bengal in 1943, which still stands as the most devastating famine that occurred in India, killing thirty lakh people in the province of Bengal alone is it’s prime example. It is considered as a remarkable event regarding food and famine problems In India.

The genesis of rationing in India dates back to the 1940s, when the then Government of India in various Food Conferences from 1940 to 1942 had planned to institutionalise rationing system.  However the proposal did not nature due to some reasons until the Bengal Famine happened, during which lakh of people died due to hunger. At the same time same time Second World War was underway during which the British Government faced the scarcity of food forcing Government to resort to organised and controlled system of emergency supply of food.

It wasn’t however till 1947 when present system of foodgrain distribution was institutionalised for walfare of poor populations. This rationing system was again revived in the wake of acute food shortage during the early 1960s, before the Green revolution. After emergency, it underwent many changes with the introduction of RPDS and TDPS, and various subsumed schemes for poor in order to make it more inclusive. National Food Security, Act 2013 is it’s latest face, which converted various food security schemes like Midday Meal Scheme, Integrated Child Development Services scheme and the Public Distribution System into legal entitlements for the beneficiaries.

Present pandemic of Covid-19 on one hand presents before us multiple challenges of healthcare and food security, but on the other hand provides us opportunities to make some valuable innovations and interventions that could be potential source of relief for generations to come.

There is an opportunity for us to take advantage of this platform and Distribute all Essential Items during the lockdown period and emergencies like these, through the basic units of public distribution system i.e. Ration Depots/Fair Price Shops. Time is ripe to turn them as Multi Utility Centres, a proposal that has been in the pipeline for many decades

At present circumstances, our prime objective is and must be to make lockdown effective and result oriented without compromising Food Security and Health of people, i.e. decreasing the spread of virus by containment of people and maintaining necessary physical distancing.

This strategy to supply all essential items through these Govt. Sale Depots/Fair Price Shops will cater many objectives arising due to Covid-19 as they are the ladmarks in every Village/Town and its location is known and fixed. Following are some of the important points that make these Sale Depots as potential spot for providing all Essential Items to the consumers in realistic manner.

 

Benefits:

  1. Beneficiary Oriented: By distributing essential items through Sale Depots will ensure that true and needy beneficiaries are catered, i.e. those who do not have transport accessibility to the market and cannot move to distant market to purchase Food and other essential items.

 

  1. Target InclusivenessTransparency: Since the Shopkeepers Depot Assistants/ Panchs/ Surpanchs already have record and reference of number of members in a family and it’s financial condition, as categorised in PHH (Priority House Hold), NPHH (Non Priority House Hold) Distribution will be more inclusive and transparent with less complaints.

 

  1. Less Movement: Since Essential Items will be available at the Govt. Sale Depots, it will ensure less frequent movement of people outside in markets, thus decreasing any meagre chance of contacting people making lockdown rational.

 

  1. Effective Price Control: Making availability of Essential Items at Govt. Sale Depots will help to curb any Hoarding and Black Marketing by the Food Business Operators. Even Needy and Poor consumers may get goods at subsidised prices also.

 

  1. Build Trust Awareness: Sales Depots can be used as platform to build Trust between people and the Government/Administration by making its efforts visible on the ground. Awareness pamphlets carrying necessary guidelines and advisories may also be distributed among the people for effective compliance of Government orders. This will also result in curbing rumours/fake advisories and prevent chaos and panic among the people.

 

  1. Future Assessment: Since every village/Town has enrolment record of consumers of all the categories of beneficiaries, nearly exact assessment can be made for preparing future strategies by the Government/Administration in terms of supply and Distribution of Essential Items to the people.

 

Roadmap:

  1. Government & Manufacturers: Government may make a direct liaison with the Manufacturers of Essential Items and Government Departments through its agencies and procure necessary supplies in Bulk Home Need Packages at some minimum price and transported the goods carrier directly to the Sale Depots /Fair Price Shops.

 

  1. Establishing the Task Force: For smooth fairsupply, transport and distribution of these essential items, a special Team of Officers/Officials from various departments like Food Civil Supplies, Consumers Affairs, Food Safety, Social Welfare, Revenue and Home departments may be made at the Block Level to cater cluster of villages falling in it.

 

  1. Issuance of Press Release and News Bulletin: Information regarding providing of Essential Items in a family package model may be issued as press releases by the Government in print and electronic media especially in the local and regional radio/TV news channels mentioning therein the date/day/villages of distribution and category of beneficiaries to be covered.

 

  1. Using Mobile Vehicles: For those sale depots or fair prose shops where there is little space to contain or unload the essential items into the stores, distribution may be made directly from the trucks or goods carrier vehicles at the store sites.

 

Through a promising handshake, we can grow out of the present crisis with new dawn and new hopes. Converting Fair Price Shops or Sale Depots of Public Distribution System into Multi Utility Centres may take another decade or more for us to realise this ambitious welfare project, however, distribution activities can be carried out from these nerve centres of foodgrain supply to make an example to follow as ‘Opportunities Often Come in Dirty Clothes.

 

Author is Food Safety Officer,Food and Drugs Administration, J&K

 

Ibn.e.qayum@gmail.com

 

Archive
May 02, 2020 01:00:00 | Firdous Ahmad Ahangar

Opportunities often come in dirty clothes

              

Food Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department (Erstwhile CAPD or Food & Supplies) has played a pivotal role in addressing hunger and maintaining food security among the poor and needy more so in times of natural disasters like floods, earthquakes in the valley. Having been part of this department post 2014 floods in the valley, reaffirmed my faith about its potential role and significance towards food security. Present challenge of Covid-19 pandemic has again brought us back to the roots of the problem, and again presented us an opportunity of blessing in disguise to remodel and modernise our ration ghats.

As they say “necessity is the mother of invention”, driving force behind any new policy or a scheme is often, if not always, introduced in the interest of public good due to some natural or manmade challenges or disasters or calamities like earthquake, drought, flood, tsunami, pandemic or epidemic diseases and widespread failure etc. The Famine of Bengal in 1943, which still stands as the most devastating famine that occurred in India, killing thirty lakh people in the province of Bengal alone is it’s prime example. It is considered as a remarkable event regarding food and famine problems In India.

The genesis of rationing in India dates back to the 1940s, when the then Government of India in various Food Conferences from 1940 to 1942 had planned to institutionalise rationing system.  However the proposal did not nature due to some reasons until the Bengal Famine happened, during which lakh of people died due to hunger. At the same time same time Second World War was underway during which the British Government faced the scarcity of food forcing Government to resort to organised and controlled system of emergency supply of food.

It wasn’t however till 1947 when present system of foodgrain distribution was institutionalised for walfare of poor populations. This rationing system was again revived in the wake of acute food shortage during the early 1960s, before the Green revolution. After emergency, it underwent many changes with the introduction of RPDS and TDPS, and various subsumed schemes for poor in order to make it more inclusive. National Food Security, Act 2013 is it’s latest face, which converted various food security schemes like Midday Meal Scheme, Integrated Child Development Services scheme and the Public Distribution System into legal entitlements for the beneficiaries.

Present pandemic of Covid-19 on one hand presents before us multiple challenges of healthcare and food security, but on the other hand provides us opportunities to make some valuable innovations and interventions that could be potential source of relief for generations to come.

There is an opportunity for us to take advantage of this platform and Distribute all Essential Items during the lockdown period and emergencies like these, through the basic units of public distribution system i.e. Ration Depots/Fair Price Shops. Time is ripe to turn them as Multi Utility Centres, a proposal that has been in the pipeline for many decades

At present circumstances, our prime objective is and must be to make lockdown effective and result oriented without compromising Food Security and Health of people, i.e. decreasing the spread of virus by containment of people and maintaining necessary physical distancing.

This strategy to supply all essential items through these Govt. Sale Depots/Fair Price Shops will cater many objectives arising due to Covid-19 as they are the ladmarks in every Village/Town and its location is known and fixed. Following are some of the important points that make these Sale Depots as potential spot for providing all Essential Items to the consumers in realistic manner.

 

Benefits:

  1. Beneficiary Oriented: By distributing essential items through Sale Depots will ensure that true and needy beneficiaries are catered, i.e. those who do not have transport accessibility to the market and cannot move to distant market to purchase Food and other essential items.

 

  1. Target InclusivenessTransparency: Since the Shopkeepers Depot Assistants/ Panchs/ Surpanchs already have record and reference of number of members in a family and it’s financial condition, as categorised in PHH (Priority House Hold), NPHH (Non Priority House Hold) Distribution will be more inclusive and transparent with less complaints.

 

  1. Less Movement: Since Essential Items will be available at the Govt. Sale Depots, it will ensure less frequent movement of people outside in markets, thus decreasing any meagre chance of contacting people making lockdown rational.

 

  1. Effective Price Control: Making availability of Essential Items at Govt. Sale Depots will help to curb any Hoarding and Black Marketing by the Food Business Operators. Even Needy and Poor consumers may get goods at subsidised prices also.

 

  1. Build Trust Awareness: Sales Depots can be used as platform to build Trust between people and the Government/Administration by making its efforts visible on the ground. Awareness pamphlets carrying necessary guidelines and advisories may also be distributed among the people for effective compliance of Government orders. This will also result in curbing rumours/fake advisories and prevent chaos and panic among the people.

 

  1. Future Assessment: Since every village/Town has enrolment record of consumers of all the categories of beneficiaries, nearly exact assessment can be made for preparing future strategies by the Government/Administration in terms of supply and Distribution of Essential Items to the people.

 

Roadmap:

  1. Government & Manufacturers: Government may make a direct liaison with the Manufacturers of Essential Items and Government Departments through its agencies and procure necessary supplies in Bulk Home Need Packages at some minimum price and transported the goods carrier directly to the Sale Depots /Fair Price Shops.

 

  1. Establishing the Task Force: For smooth fairsupply, transport and distribution of these essential items, a special Team of Officers/Officials from various departments like Food Civil Supplies, Consumers Affairs, Food Safety, Social Welfare, Revenue and Home departments may be made at the Block Level to cater cluster of villages falling in it.

 

  1. Issuance of Press Release and News Bulletin: Information regarding providing of Essential Items in a family package model may be issued as press releases by the Government in print and electronic media especially in the local and regional radio/TV news channels mentioning therein the date/day/villages of distribution and category of beneficiaries to be covered.

 

  1. Using Mobile Vehicles: For those sale depots or fair prose shops where there is little space to contain or unload the essential items into the stores, distribution may be made directly from the trucks or goods carrier vehicles at the store sites.

 

Through a promising handshake, we can grow out of the present crisis with new dawn and new hopes. Converting Fair Price Shops or Sale Depots of Public Distribution System into Multi Utility Centres may take another decade or more for us to realise this ambitious welfare project, however, distribution activities can be carried out from these nerve centres of foodgrain supply to make an example to follow as ‘Opportunities Often Come in Dirty Clothes.

 

Author is Food Safety Officer,Food and Drugs Administration, J&K

 

Ibn.e.qayum@gmail.com