Sunday, July 7, 2013

Establishing food regimes in the central Himalayas

Nehru Memorial Museum and Library
cordially invites you to a Weekly Seminar

at 3.00 pm on Tuesday, 9 July, 2013
in the Seminar Room, First Floor, Library Building


‘Katyuris of Uttarakhand:
Establishing food regimes in the
central Himalayas from pre-history to circa.14CE’


Dr. Vasudha Pande,
                                 Fellow, NMML

Katyuris are the much celebrated Kings of Uttarakhand. The narrative of the Katyuri state marks the shift from pre-history to history --- with copper plates, inscriptions, architectural works and folklore. Despite the great interest expressed in the Katyuri state system, little attention is paid to the most momentous contribution of the Katyuris—the shift to settled, terraced cultivation and the emergence of petty peasant production.  Since Uttarakhand as defined today is a specific construct, the presentation will not restrict itself to this geographical unit. It will explore regions contiguous with present day Uttarakhand –Nepal in the east, Tarai in the south, Tibet in the north and Himachal in the west. Articulated in terms of river valley systems it will extend from the Karnali in the east to Kali, to Ganga, to Yamuna up to Sutlej in the west. By spreading the net wide, we hope to document the gradual, piecemeal change in terms of resource utilization by hunter gatherers, fishing communities, pastoral groups, and those practicing trans-humance in this part of the Himalayan mountains.
This paper will try to explain the Katyuri period, roughly defined from the 9th-14th CE as a momentous conjuncture which successfully stitched together the various food production systems then prevalent in the Central Himalayas. This brought about an increase in population and productivity. The emergence of agriculture is transformative and the result of many cumulative changes in production strategies, technology, demography, and adaptation to specific niches. How did this happen, what precipitated this transition? The Himalayas provide a wide variety of habitats across different altitudinal zones, what kinds of adaptive strategies did humans adopt in this landscape? How did these then interact with each other?

Dr. Vasudha Pande has been teaching at the Lady Shri Ram College for Women since 1987.  Se has worked on Kumaon and has witten on different aspects of the history of the region, which includes a study of the colonial architectural heritage of Nainital.  She has also written on Family and Law in colonial Kumaon. She is currently Fellow, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library researching on Environmental History of Uttarakhand.

National Food Security Ordinance 2013

 Dear All ,
National Food Security Ordinance 2013
(The National Food security bill ensures food and nutritional security to the people and focus on the needs of poorest of the poor, women and children)

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee promulgated the National Food Security Ordinance, 2013. The National Food Security Ordinance is a historic initiative for ensuring food and nutritional security to the people. The Bill gives right to the people to receive adequate quantity of foodgrains at affordable prices and the bill has special focus on the needs of poorest of the poor, women and children. In case of non-supply of foodgrains now people will get Food Security Allowance. The bill provides for grievance redressal mechanism and penalty for non compliance by public servant or authority.

Highlights of the National Food Security Bill

  • Cover two thirds population to get highly susidized foodgrains under TPDS (Targeted Public Distribution System) -- Upto 75% of the rural population and upto 50% of the urban population will have uniform entitlement of 5 kg foodgrains per month at a highly subsidized price of Rs. 3, Rs. 2, and Rs. 1 per kg for rice, wheat, coarse grains respectively.

  • Poorest of the poor continue to get 35 kg per household --The poorest of poor households would continue to receive 35 Kg foodgrains per household per month under Antyodaya Anna Yajna at subsidized prices of Rs 3, Rs 2 and Rs 1. It is also proposed to protect the existing allocation of foodgrains to the States/Uts, subject to it being restricted to average annual offtake during last three years.

§         Eligible households to be identified by the States -- Corresponding to the coverage of 75% rural and 50 % of urban population at all India level, State wise coverage will be determined by the Central Government. The identification of eligible households is being given to the States/UTs, which may frame their own criteria or use Social Economic and Caste Census data, if they so desire.

§         Special focus on nutritional support to women and children -- There is a special focus on nutritional support to women and children. Pregnant women and lactating mothers, besides being entitled to nutritious meals as per the prescribed nutritional norms will also receive maternity benefit of at least of Rs. 6000/-. Children in the age group of 6 months to 14 years will be entitled to take home ration or hot cooked food as per prescribed nutritional norms.

§         Food security allowance in case of non supply of foodgrains -- The Central Government will provide funds to States/UTs in case of short supply of food grains from Central pool, In case of non-supply of food grains or meals to entitled persons, the concerned State/UT Governments will be required to provide such food security allowance as may be prescribed by the Central Government to the beneficiaries.

§         States to get assistance for intra-State transportation and handling of foodgrains -- In order to address the concern of the States regarding additional financial burden, Central Government will provide assistance to the States towards cost of intra-State transportation, handling of foodgrains and FPS dealers’ margin, for which norms will be developed. This will ensure timely transportation and efficient handling of foodgrains.

§         Reforms for doorstep delivery of foodgrains -- The Bill also contains provisions for reforms in PDS through doorstep delivery of foodgrains, application of information and communication technology (ICT) including end to end computerisation, leveraging ‘Aadhaar’ for unique identification of beneficiaries, diversification of commodities under TPDS etc for effective implementation of the Food Security Act. Some of these reforms are already underway.

§         Women empowerment -- Eldest woman of 18 years of age or above will be head of the household for issue of ration card, and if not available, the eldest male member is to be the head of the household.

§         Grievance redressal mechanism at district level -- There will be state and district level redressal mechanism with designated officers. The States will be allowed to use the existing machinery for District Grievance Redressal Officer (DGRO), State Food Commission, if they so desire, to save expenditure on establishment of new redressal set up. Redressal mechanism may also include call centers, helpline etc.

§         Social audits and vigilance committees to ensure transparency and accountability -- Provisions have also been made for disclosure of records relating to PDS, social audits and setting up of Vigilance Committees in order to ensure transparency and accountability. Also, the Bill provides for penalty to be imposed on public servants or authority, if found guilty of failing to comply with the relief recommended by the District Grievance Redressal Officer (DGRO).

  • Expenditure -- The total estimated annual foodgrains requirement is 612.3 lakh tons and corresponding estimated food subsidy for 2013-14 costs is about Rs.1, 24,724 crore.

Warm regards,

Dr. S P Sharma
Chief Economist

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