New Delhi: The National Advisory Council has moved one step closer to fulfilling the Congress' promise to the 'aam aadmi' (common man). After the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), the Food Security Act close to Congress President Sonia Gandhi's heart is the party's most ambitious pro-poor legislation.
The National Advisory Council (NAC) on Wednesday moved one step closer to the promise made in the party's election manifesto. Significantly the Congress President has asserted herself to make the right moves inclusive in sharp contrast to the pragmatic approach by the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on food.
The NAC draft proposes 35 kg of food grains at Rs 3 a kilo while EGoM draft had approved 25 kilo @ Rs 3 a kilo. NAC draft suggests universal PDF in 150 of India's poorest districts while EGoM had approved targeted PDF only for BPL families.
NAC draft says 1/3rd of India's population will be covered as Suresh Tendulkar's estimation of poverty is at 37 per cent while EGoM had initially approved that 28 per cent of people should be covered. NAC also suggests special inclusion of vulnerable categories like single women, people with HIV, destitute including those in urban areas. EGoM draft had no mention of vulnerable groups.
NAC Draft proposes mid-day meal scheme to be included in the act as extended to secondary school students while EGoM draft was silent on mid-day meal scheme.
Significantly the broad consensus was towards universalisation of PDS. However for now even the NAC is undecided about the price of food grains for APL families. The NAC has six weeks to submit a final draft to the Government. In the face of increasing inflation and price rise, the Congress President is all set to win this one for the 'aam aadmi'.