The right to food and food security have been widely discussed in the media. The National Food Security Bill, 2011, which makes the right to food a legal right, is currently pending in Parliament. The Bill seeks to deliver food security by providing specific entitlements to certain groups of individuals through the Targeted Public Distribution System, a large-scale subsidised foodgrain distribution system. The Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution presented its report on the Food Security Bill on January 17, 2013. It made recommendations on key issues such as the categorisation of beneficiaries, cash transfers and cost sharing between the centre and states. A comparison of the Bill and Committee’s recommendations are given below.
Food Security Bill
Standing Committee’s Recommendations
|Who will get food security?||75% of the rural and 50% of the urban population (to be divided into priority and general categories). Of these, at least 46% of the rural and 28% of urban populations will be priority (the rest will be general).||Uniform category: Priority, general and other categories shall be collapsed into ‘included’ and ‘excluded’ categories.Included category shall extend to 75% of the rural and 50% of the urban population.|
|How will they be identified?||The centre shall prescribe guidelines for identifying households; states shall identify the specific households.||The centre should clearly define criteria for exclusion and consult with states to create inclusion criteria.|
|What will they get?||Priority:7 kg foodgrains/person/month (at Rs 3/kg for wheat, Rs 2/kg for rice, Rs 1/kg for coarse grains).General: 3 kg foodgrains/person/ month (at 50% of MSP).||Included: 5 kg foodgrains/person/month (at subsidised prices). Pulses, sugar, etc., should be provided in addition to foodgrains.|
|Reforms to TPDS||Doorstep delivery of foodgrains to ration shops, use of information technology, etc.||Implement specific IT reforms, for e.g. CCTV cameras in godowns, use of internet, and GPS tracking of vehicles carrying foodgrains. Evaluate implementation of TPDS every 5 yrs.|
|Cost-sharing between centre and states||Costs will be shared between centre and states. Mechanism for cost-sharing will be determined by the centre.||Finance Commission and states should be consulted regarding additional expenditure to be borne by states to implement the Bill.|
|Cash Transfers||Schemes such as cash transfer and food coupons shall be introduced in lieu of foodgrains.||Cash transfers should not be introduced at this time. Adequate banking infrastructure needs to be set up before introduction.|
|Time limit for implementation||The Act shall come into force on a date specified by the centre.||States to be provided reasonable time limit i.e., 1 year, after which Act will come into force.|
Discussion on the first no-confidence motion of the 17th Lok Sabha began today. No-confidence motions and confidence motions are trust votes, used to test or demonstrate the support of Lok Sabha for the government in power. Article 75(3) of the Constitution states that the government is collectively responsible to Lok Sabha. This means that the government must always enjoy the support of a majority of the members of Lok Sabha. Trust votes are used to examine this support. The government resigns if a majority of members support a no-confidence motion, or reject a confidence motion.
So far, 28 no-confidence motions (including the one being discussed today) and 11 confidence motions have been discussed. Over the years, the number of such motions has reduced. The mid-1960s and mid-1970s saw more no-confidence motions, whereas the 1990s saw more confidence motions.
Figure 1: Trust votes in Parliament
Note: *Term shorter than 5 years; **6-year term.
Source: Statistical Handbook 2021, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs; PRS.
The no-confidence motion being discussed today was moved on July 26, 2023. A motion of no-confidence is moved with the support of at least 50 members. The Speaker has the discretion to allot time for discussion of the motion. The Rules of Procedure state that the motion must be discussed within 10 days of being introduced. This year, the no-confidence motion was discussed 13 calendar days after introduction. Since the introduction of the no-confidence motion on July 26, 12 Bills have been introduced and 18 Bills have been passed by Lok Sabha. In the past, on four occasions, the discussion on no-confidence motions began seven days after their introduction. On these occasions, Bills and other important issues were debated before the discussion on the no-confidence motion began.
Figure 2: Members rise in support of the motion of no-confidence in Lok Sabha