DC Edit | Free rations move makes 'human face' of govt real
DECCAN CHRONICLE | DC Correspondent
Feed someone hungry, as charity, as virtue, as duty – and you have done one of the best things you could have ever done, in the spirit of the season which follows the underlying didactic morality theme of all major religions of the world.
The Narendra Modi-led government has undertaken one of the largest-ever programmes worldwide to provide rations to over 800 million people for the last two years. His aim is to ensure that the poorest of poor citizens do not have to endure hunger.
The Union Cabinet’s decision to extend the programme by another year – until the end of December 2023 – is a wonderfully humane decision – one that the Indian taxpayer and those who would otherwise not have to face hunger should welcome and celebrate.
The National Food Security Act (NFSA), under which the poor get subsidised rice priced at Rs 3 per kilo, and wheat costing Rs 2 per kilo, will reach 81.3 crore citizens free of cost. This will cost India over Rs 2 lakh crores, which the Central government shall bear. It is one of the best basic welfare measures India is proudly undertaking.
It is equally noteworthy that India has reached an economic status where it can easily afford such a move. Equally significantly, such a humongous undertaking is being implemented without any noticeable pilferage, corruption or leakage.
Next to India protecting its borders without compromising even an inch for even a minute, or holding the world’s largest elections, or sending rockets and satellites into space at the lowest of costs globally, this is one of our greatest national collective achievements. The Modi government must be applauded for it.
In fact, the entire world and global bodies must take note of India’s Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY), wherein each person gets up to five kilograms of foodgrains per month, as one of the greatest humanitarian welfare schemes in the world. This will replace the pandemic programme of free rations, the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, which will be phased out by the year-end.
Of course, there will be politics. The ruling BJP has described the Cabinet decision as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision a "…New Year gift for the country’s poor", and will hope to benefit from it electorally in the coming year.
Interestingly, the scheme helps the government buy grain without having to worry about its usage from farmers on a big scale, thus helping the economy, and society, twice over. Making farming sustainable by procuring foodgrain on a vast scale is also crucial for keeping the foundation of the rural economy strong, and sustainable, and it helps keep unemployment low. PM Modi must consider keeping the programme going as long as there is demand for it.
The other decision of the Cabinet, in which it approved the revised pension for the Armed Forces under the one rank, one pension scheme and which will aid over 25 lakh veterans, is an equally welcome move.
Under the Modi government’s rule, the great slogan of Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, is being truly fructified, and that is a happy year-end thought.