Dying for ration: No health aid for those without PDS cards

A scheme to distribute free ration to 813.5 million beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) is supposed to have come into effect from the New Year. Down To Earth looked at the ground situation of beneficiaries in Jharkhand.

The Public Distribution System (PDS) started in the 1960s to provide food grains at subsidised rates to the people of the country facing a food crisis. PDS was transformed into the National Food Security Act (NFSA) in 2013.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, free ration was given out to the needy under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY).

PMGKAY has been discontinued and the benefits have been integrated into NFSA from January 2023. But the ground situation in parts of Jharkhand tells a different story about the condition of the recipients. Health treatments under the Ayushman Card are also not

— source downtoearth.org.in | Raju Sajwan | 02 Jan 2023

Nullius in verba


Biometric glitches in Rajasthan villages keep the poor hungry

Biometric verification at public distribution system (PDS) shops to prevent theft is causing more trouble than they’re worth for 65-year-old Ghomati Devu. She and her dependents have not received any ration since October 2022.

Devu has lived in Joona Patrasar village, about 24 kilometres from Barmer in Rajasthan, for all her married life. The widow’s red ration card indicates she belongs to an impoverished family, categorising her below-poverty line.

State government guidelines dictate she is eligible for 35 kilogrammes of food grains for herself and an additional 5 kgs for each dependent member. However, before the rations stopped, she would only get around 20 kgs of food grains.

Officially, her two daughters — one 20-year-old and the other five — depend on her. However, the 20 kgs of rations used to be shared between seven members of her family,

— source downtoearth.org.in | Himanshu Nitnaware | 20 Dec 2022

Nullius in verba

71% Indians can’t afford nutritious food

Member of Parliament (MP) Syed Nasir Hussain has raised a few questions to Smriti Irani, Union minister for women and child development, based on a recent report by the Delhi-based think tank Centre for Science and Environment and Down To Earth.

Some 71 per cent of Indians cannot afford nutritious food and more than 1.7 million people die every year due to diseases caused by poor diet, the report had said.

Irani responded to the unstarred question asked December 5, 2022, during the winter session, by saying that “the ministry is not aware of any such report.”

The government has addressed the issue of food security at the household levels by ensuring access to adequate quantities of quality food grains at subsidised rates.

Further, even during the COVID-19 Pandemic, free ration was provided to 800 million people under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, she claimed.

— source downtoearth.org.in | 07 Dec 2022

Nullius in verba

Dying for ration: 7-year wait for Jharkhand couple to receive PDS benefits

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led central government recently announced free ration to 813.5 million poor people under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) for one year. However, a ground report by Down To Earth looks into whether beneficiaries have received Public Distribution System (PDS) benefits under existing schemes.

DTE visited several areas in the first fortnight of December, including a tribal village in Jharkhand, to know the ground reality.

NFSA was implemented in 2013 and ration was given out at subsidised rates under the Act until now. The free ration was being distributed under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana and the new scheme will kick in with the new year.

Anar Devi lives in a village about 1,200 kilometres from the national capital Delhi. Her home is in Sarhua village, Palamu district’s Ramgarh block. Her husband, Sitaram Bhuiyan, owns farmland that is smaller than an acre.

— source downtoearth.org.in | Raju Sajwan | 26 Dec 2022

Nullius in verba

Dying for ration: Tonk woman bringing up family on Rs 200 a day not eligible for PDS welfare

A mother of two daughters in Kalandar Basti in Tonk, Rajasthan is grappling with formalities to receive her due welfare under the Public Distribution System (PDS). Left to fend for herself and the kids for not birthing sons, the woman is now running pillar to post to avail free rations.

Mehrunisha has been trying to seek the benefits of free food grains from the Rajasthan state government from 2018. Her village is about 110 kilometres away from the state capital Jaipur.

Her alcoholic husband stopped working around five years ago. Other than putting the burden of financial responsibility on her, he also physically abuses her, she said.

Her only fault? Not giving birth to a boy. “Things went south right after I had my second daughter in 2018. My in-laws and husband started ill-treating me and he stopped bringing home any money,” Mehrunisha told Down To Earth.

She had to find work immediately. “I took up Aari Tari, a traditional handwork of Rajasthan, to earn Rs 200 a day and feed a four-member family.

This was a tough decision for Mehrunisha, a Muslim woman who had to break parada (veil) to earn her bread. “I realised that there would be no food at home unless I started

— source downtoearth.org.in | Himanshu Nitnaware | 22 Dec 2022

Nullius in verba

These Barmer widows and orphans are being turned away from PDS shops

A small settlement of about 250 families in Barmer district, Rajasthan, has been devastated due to alcohol consumption. About three-quarters of the women are widows and, despite being impoverished and living below-poverty line, struggle to avail free ration from the government.

The colony is located about 15 kilometres from the city and has lost most of its men to excess consumption of alcohol, leaving their widows vulnerable and children orphans.

The remaining men work as boot polishers, drive public transport vehicles or find other daily wage jobs. However, even these men suffer serious health conditions, like cirrhosis and brittle bones, due to alcohol abuse.

The women mainly work as waste pickers, earning around Rs 200 daily.

Despite living in such conditions, many people from this settlement are being turned away from ration shops despite having valid cards.

— source downtoearth.org.in | Himanshu Nitnaware | 19 Dec 2022

Nullius in verba

One in 10 US households struggles to afford enough food

One in 10 American households struggled to feed their families last year, with more than 5 million families missing meals and cutting portions due to poverty, new government research reveals.

Food insecurity in households with children is the lowest level on record, yet families still account for almost half of the country’s food-insecure households, with 2.3m unable to afford adequate nutritional food at times during 2021, according to the annual food insecurity report by the USDA.

In most circumstances, adults went without to ensure the children were adequately fed, but for 0.7% of extremely poor households there was not enough food for anyone. In the richest country in the world, children in 274,000 American households went hungry, skipped meals or did not eat for entire days because there was not enough money to buy food.

Inadequate nutrition can affect children’s growth and physical development, as well as their ability to thrive, play and learn.

Food insecurity remains stubbornly high in the US, with only a slight downward trend from 2021 – but significantly lower than 2020 when the Covid shutdown and widespread layoffs

— source theguardian.com | Nina Lakhani | 7 Sep 2022

Nullius in verba

Baby Formula Crisis in US Requires Urgent Action to Address

Four corporations control 90% of the baby formula market in the United States, and as a national baby formula shortage drags on, it has impacted working-class families of color the most. We get an update from Democratic Congressmember Ro Khanna of California, who just wrote an open letter urging leaders of federal agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration to take bolder action to address the shortage. Khanna discusses efforts to increase production domestically and supplement the shortage with formula from other nations, and why he is calling for President Biden to go further and pass antitrust laws to reduce reliance on corporate monopolies for vital products. “Why is it that we are so dependent on one or two manufacturers in this country?” says Khanna. “This is a problem not just in baby formula.”

The crisis started last October after a whistleblower sent the Food and Drug Administration a report detailing safety and sanitation violations at the Abbott Nutrition factory in Sturgis, Michigan, the largest baby formula manufacturing plant in the country. Actually, the whistleblower had notified authorities long before last October, but it would be months before the FDA took action. Abbott fired the whistleblower. Four babies who had consumed formula from the plant suffered bacterial infections. Two of them died. The FDA could not conclusively link the illnesses or deaths to that particular Sturgis plant. In February, Abbott shut down the plant and announced a voluntary recall of its Sturgis-

— source democracynow.org | Jul 25, 2022

Nullius in verba