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Sonia Gandhi in Lok Sabha, 26th Aug 2013 PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Monday, 26 August 2013

Camp: Lok Sabha (New Delhi)

Date: 26 August, 2013

Time: 5.30 PM

 

Sonia Gandhi: Food Security scheme an opportunity to transform the lives of millions of people

 

New Delhi: Congress President and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, while taking part in the debate on the historic Food Security Bill in the Parliament, requested all the members to pass UPA’s flagship welfare scheme to provide subsidized food to the poor in the country.

While speaking in the Lok Sabha, a determined and confident Sonia Gandhi asserted, “Some people ask whether we have enough resources to successfully implement this bill. But it is not a question of how we find means to implement Food Bill; we have to find the way. The question is not whether we can do it or not; we have to do it. Some people also ask whether this bill is beneficial for the farmers. I want to underline that we have always given prominence to farmers and agriculture”. 

“We had promised in 2009 that we will bring the Food Security Bill to provide subsidized food grains to the poor and I am happy to say on behalf of my party that we are fulfilling that promise” added Sonia Gandhi. 

She also listed some of the major legislations brought in by the UPA Government and said that the Food Security scheme is the fifth in the row after the RTI, MNREGA, RTE and Right to Forest Act. “The food Security Bill is thus the fifth in a series of what might be called a right-based approach which provides legal entitlement to the people, puts pressure on the executive to be more responsive and accountable and also puts in place a credible mechanism to redress grievances. This approach, I believe, will bring in about an empowerment revolution in our country something we are proud to have facilitated”.

Sonia Gandhi said that our goal must be to wipe out hunger and malnutrition from our country. “This legislation is only the beginning as we move forward we will be more open to constructive suggestions and we will learn from experience” added the Congress President.

“We have today, an opportunity to transform the lives of tens of millions of our people and I believe that we must, together, rise to the occasion, set aside our differences, and a firm act of commitment to their welfare and well-being. It is my fervent hope and humble appeal that we, as the representative of those very people, should convert this Bill into an Act and do so unanimously” concluded Sonia Gandhi.

The Food Security scheme has been championed by Sonia Gandhi and is being seen as the one of the land mark legislations brought in by the Centre. The government introduced the Food Security scheme as an ordinance in July which must get the nod of the Parliament before September 6. The Parliament has started the discussion on Monday.

 

Text of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi’s speech in Parliament

 

I am standing in support of the Food Security Bill. We have got a historic opportunity now, to take an important decision so that we can find out a permanent solution to the problems of several poor people in our country. We had promised in 2009 that we will bring the Food Security Bill to provide subsidized food grains to the poor and I am happy to say on behalf of my party that we are fulfilling that promise.  

It is good that in the past few years, people from various sections of the society could avail several benefits. But it is a matter of great concern that there are people who are still not able to avail the fruits of our welfare schemes. What is our responsibility towards those people is the big question before us. What should be the responsibility of the government towards those people who still suffer from malnutrition?

This is a chance to send a historic message by our Parliament today. A clear message is being sent out today that India ensuring food security to all its citizens. This is the chance to make sure that no child in our country suffers from malnutrition, grows up in a healthy manner and contributes later for country’s growth. Today Parliament has an opportunity to make it a right for people to receive food they are entitled to.

Some people ask whether we have enough resources to successfully implement this bill. But it is not a question of how we find means to implement Food Bill; we have to find the way. The question is not whether we can do it or not; but we have to do it. Some people also ask whether this bill is beneficial for the farmers. I want to underline that we have always given prominence to farmers and agriculture.  We have given top-most priority to their issues and will continue to do so. We also have to regain the momentum of the economic growth.

We are aware of the ongoing PDS scheme in our country. There more than 5 lac PDS shops across the country; in some places they work properly and at some places its functioning is not satisfactory. The access to the PDS shops are also not similar everywhere. There is a need to reform the PDS scheme. We have to ensure that its benefits reach to the right people in right manner. There are leakages in PDS and this has to be plugged. We want to reform the PDS so that its benefit reach maximum people and this is one of the main focuses in the Food Security Bill.

The food security will act as an effective tool to empower the poor, ensure more accountability in the administration and to make the system more beneficial. This bill ensure the association of Self Help Group for women and the gram panchayats in PDS and in the future Food Security Bill will help wipe out menace of bogus ration cards with the help of Aadhar. I also feel happy that this Bill protects the interests of Anthyoday families.

This bill also takes care of ICDS and mid-day meal schemes.  We have to agree that there are some short comings in these schemes but with our committed and sincere efforts we can rectify such flaws as we know that these schemes are unparalleled in the world. About 10 crores of children in about 12 lakh schools are benefitting by the mid-day meal scheme. There are about nine crores children, good number of pregnant women and several milk-feeding mothers in about 14 lakh Anganvadi Kendras across the country. So it is our combined responsibility to rectify any short-comings in these schemes. The states also should take the responsibility for it.

Madam Speaker,

Before I conclude allow me a few moments to look back a little. Under the leadership of our Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, our UPA Government in 2005 brought in Right to Information Law that ushered in unprecedented transparency in public life, sometimes to our own disadvantage.    Little after that, the right to work – the Mahatma Gandhi NREGA, became a reality. This provided employment to one in every four households in the past seven years and has led to increase rural wages. In 2006 we brought path breaking Forest Rights Act which has benefitted lakhs of tribals and other families who have traditionally relied on forests for their livelihood. In 2008 we the Right to Education became a Law. This has already led to a sharp increase in the enrolment in schools.

The food Security Bill is thus the fifth in a series of what might be called a right-based approach which provides legal entitlement to the people, puts pressure on the executive to be more responsive and accountable and also puts in place a credible mechanism  to redress grievances. This approach, I believe, will bring in about an empowerment revolution in our country something we are proud to have facilitated.

Madam Speaker,

Our goal must be to wipe out hunger and malnutrition from our country. This legislation is only the beginning as we move forward we will be more open to constructive suggestions and we will learn from experience.

In essence, Madam Speaker, We have today, an opportunity to transform the lives of tens of millions of our people and I believe that we must, together, rise to the occasion, set aside our differences, and a firm act of commitment to their welfare and well-being. It is my fervent hope and humble appeal that we, as the representative of those very people, should convert this Bill into an Act and do so unanimously.

Thank you.

 

 
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