If these panchayats and nagarpalikas, and their
respective local women’s self-help groups, are empowered through detailed
State legislation, based on chapter XII provisions, to exercise the
functions devolved on them in respect of food security, and provided both
the finances and the functionaries to undertake last mile delivery, then the
community, which has the singular stake in ensuring food security for
itself, will be able to hold the local institution of self-government responsible for delivering or failing to
deliver on food security.
First, the expression “local authority” must be replaced
by the words “local institutions of self-government constituted under
Articles 243G and W of the Constitution”. Second, the State legislatures
must, in terms of these Constitutional provisions, be charged with the task
of legislating the “duties and responsibilities” that must vest in the
panchayats and nagarpalikas, particularly in view of Entry 28 “Public
Distribution System” of the Eleventh
Third, in a separate schedule to the draft bill, the
specific functions to be devolved to each tier of the three-tier systemof
panchayat raj should be detailed alongwith the simultaneous devolution of
finances and functionaries to undertake last mile delivery.
Fourth, to avoid panchayat raj becoming sarpanch raj,
there must be statutory provision for each elected local body to have a
committee of members, including all lady representatives, to oversee the
local women’s self-help groups. Fifth, the role of the District Planning
Committees set up under Article 243 ZD (and ZE for the metropolitan areas)
in regard to determining and projecting the district’s requirements of food
security must be clearly spelt out.
Basic information on each household from the National
Population Register (NPR) is already pre-loaded on the tablet.
The tablets designed by Bharat Electronics Ltd are sturdy
and of a relatively low cost.
The main problem with using them is that there is no
paper trail for families to verify data. And often there is a slip.
The operators are also inadequately trained.
The most important area of concern is the definition of a
Land is another question where anomalies could
potentially exclude millions of deserving families.
The trouble is that most enumerators do not even enquire
whether the land owned by a household is irrigated and the number of crops
sown each year — both key exclusion criteria.
Too many villagers are not even aware of this exercise or
its significance. Often they are not even at home when the enumerators
So far, the data has also not been published at the gram
sabha level for villagers to verify or apply for corrections.