Right to Food Campaign, India

One of the long-standing demands of the right to food campaign (and of the labour movement in India) is a national “employment guarantee act”. This demand was partially met in mid-2005 with the enactment of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA 2005). Under this Act, any adult willing to do casual labour at the minimum wage is entitled to employment on local public works within 15 days, subject to a limit of 100 days per household per year … (full text Employment Guarantee Act).

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Addresse: Right To Food Campaign, Secretariat, C/o PHRN, 5 A, Jungi House, Shahpur Jat, New Delhi – 110049, India;
Contact.

About the Campaign: Foundation statement: The right to food campaign is an informal network of organisations and individuals committed to the realisation of the right to food in India. 

We consider that everyone has a fundamental right to be free from hunger and undernutrition. Realising this right requires not only equitable and sustainable food systems, but also entitlements relating to livelihood security such as the right to work, land reform and social security. We consider that the primary responsibility for guaranteeing these entitlements rests with the state. Lack of financial resources cannot be accepted as an excuse for abdicating this responsibility. In the present context, where people’s basic needs are not a political priority, state intervention itself depends on effective popular organisation. We are committed to fostering this process through all democratic means.

How it happened:

The campaign began with a writ petition submitted to the Supreme Court in April 2001 by People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Rajasthan. Briefly, the petition demands that the country’s gigantic food stocks should be used without delay to protect people from hunger and starvation. This petition led to a prolonged; public interest litigation (PUCL vs Union of India and Others, Writ Petition [Civil] 196 of 2001). Supreme Court hearings have been held at regular intervals, and significant “interim orders” have been issued from time to time. However, it soon became clear that the legal process would not go very far on its own. This motivated the effort to build a larger public campaign for the right to food.

Issues:

The campaign has already taken up a wide range of aspects of the right to food. Sustained demands include: (1) a national Employment Guarantee Act, (2) universal mid-day meals in primary schools, (3) universalization of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) for children under the age of six, (4) effective implementation of all nutrition-related schemes, (5) revival and universalization of the public distribution system, (6) social security arrangements for those who are not able to work, (7) equitable land rights and forest rights. Some of these demands have already been met to some extent. For instance, the Indian Parliament unanimously enacted a National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in August 2005, and cooked mid-day meals have been introduced in all primary schools following a Supreme Court order of April 2004. Further issues are likely to be taken up as the campaign grows.

Activities: … (full text).

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