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Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs

15- FOOD, CIVIL SUPPLIES AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS

  • The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution is a ministry with two departments - the Department of Food and Public Distribution and the Department of Consumer Affairs.
  • Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) one of the two departments under the Ministry was constituted as a separate Department in June 1997 as it was considered necessary to have a separate department to give a fillip to the nascent consumer movement in the country.
  • The Department has been entrusted with the following work:
    • Internal trade
    • The Essential Commodities Act, 1955
    • Prevention of Black Marketing and Maintenance of Supply of Essential Commodities Act, 1980
    • Regulation of packaged commodities
    • Training in legal metrology
    • Consumer cooperatives
  • The Department of Food and Public Distribution, in the Ministry, is responsible for the management of the food economy of the nation.
  • It undertakes various activities, such as procurement of food items, their storage, movement and delivery to the distributing agencies.
  • The primary policy objective of the Department is to ensure food security for the country through timely and efficient procurement and distribution of foodgrains.
  • The focus is on incentivizing farmers through the fair value of their produce by way of Minimum Support Price mechanism, distribution of Foodgrains to Below Poverty Line (BPL) families and covering poor households at the risk of hunger under Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY), establishing grain banks in food
  • scarce areas and involvement of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) in the Public Distribution System (PDS).

Consumer Affairs:

  • India was a pioneer in consumer advocacy with the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), path-breaking legislation at the time, enacted in 1986, and the establishment of a separate government department dedicated to consumer affairs as early as in 1997.
  • Translating this mandate into action entails:
    • Enabling consumers to make informed choices
    • Ensuring fair, equitable and consistent outcomes for consumers
    • Facilitating timely and effective consumer grievance redress

Consumer Affairs

Consumer Awareness

  • The Department has been conducting a countrywide multimedia awareness campaign since 2005.
  • Joint publicity campaigns have been launched in partnership with the related government departments/organizations that deal with a mass consumer clientele.
  • For instance:
    • On food, with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI);
    • On financial services with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI);
    • On medicines with the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) through various electronic and print media such as television, radio, newspapers and outdoor advertising

Consumer Welfare Fund

  • The Central Excise and Salt Act, 1944 was amended in 1991 to enable the Central government to create a Consumer Welfare Fund into which unclaimed central excise revenues not refundable to the manufacturers would be credited annually.
  • The Consumer Welfare Fund was created in 1992 with the objective of providing financial assistance to promote and protect the welfare of the consumer.
  • The Department of Consumer Affairs operates the fund, set up by the Department of Revenue under the Central Excise and Salt Act, 1944.
  • Under its Rules, since revised in 2014, any agencies/organizations engaged in consumer welfare activities for at least a period of five years and registered under the Companies Act, Societies Registration Act, Cooperative Societies Act or any other law for the time being in force are eligible for financial assistance from the Fund.

Commitment to Consumers

The DCA seeks to empower consumers through:

  • Awareness and education
  • Enhance consumer protection through prevention of unfair trade practices
  • Enable quality assurance and safety through standards and their conformity
  • Ensure access to an affordable and effective grievance redress mechanism.

Consumer Protection Act:

  • A key milestone in consumer advocacy in the country was the enactment of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
  • This progressive legislation established the three tier quasi-judicial consumer dispute redress machinery at the national, state, and district levels aimed at providing simple, speedy and affordable redress to consumers.

Consumer Protection Act

Bureau of Indian Standards

  • A new Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) Act 2016 came into force from 2017.
  • The Act establishes the BIS as the national Standards Body of India.
  • It was set up as a statutory organization taking over the assets and liabilities of the Indian Standards Institution (ISI) that came into existence in 1947.
  • It has enabling provisions for the Government to bring under compulsory certification regime any goods or article of any scheduled industry, process, system or service which it considers necessary in the public interest or for the protection of human, animal or plant health, safety of the environment, or prevention of unfair trade practices, or national security.
  • Enabling provisions have also been made for making hallmarking of the precious metal articles mandatory.

National Consumer Helpline

  • NCH is a project that operates under the Centre for Consumer Studies at Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA).
  • Its primary objective is to attend to the telephone calls from consumers and provide information to the callers and register their complaints in the INGRAM portal, to provide advice and counseling to consumers for redressal of their grievances.

Consumer Grievance Redress

  • Under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, a three-tier quasi-judicial mechanism has been set up in the country to adjudicate complaints filed before them and to provide speedy redress to consumers.
  • This includes the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (National Commission) at the apex level with territorial jurisdiction over the whole country.

National Test House

  • NTH is a premier test and quality evaluation laboratory for industrial, engineering and consumer products under the administrative control of the Government of India since the year 1912.
  • It was established originally by the Indian Railway Board.

Price Monitoring

  • The DCA operates a Price Monitoring Cell (PMC) tasked with monitoring prices of select essential commodities.
  • The monitoring is done in respect of both retail and wholesale prices on a daily basis.
  • The Cell monitors the prices of 22 essential commodities, which include cereals, pulses, vegetables, edible oils, sugar, milk, etc. , collected form 71 reporting centres across the country through the Civil Supplies Department of states/UTs.
  • The prevailing price situation as well as the other factors that impact prices, both in the domestic and the international markets are analyzed.

Food and Public Distribution:

The primary objective of the Department of Food & Public Distribution is to ensure food security for the country through:

  • Efficient procurement at Minimum Support Price (MSP), storage and distribution of food grains
  • Ensuring availability of foodgrains sugar and edible oils through appropriate policy instruments
  • Making foodgrains accessible at reasonable prices, especially to the weaker and vulnerable sections of society under a Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).

Procurement of Foodgrains:

  • Food Corporation of India (FCI), with the help of state government agencies, procures wheat, paddy and coarse grains in various states in order to provide price support to the farmers.
  • Before each Rabi/Kharif crop season, central government announces the Minimum Support Prices (MSP), based on the recommendations of Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), which takes into consideration the cost of various agricultural inputs and the reasonable margin for the farmers for their produce.
  • State governments are encouraged to adopt decentralized procurement (DCP) system of procurement so as to maximise procurement, reduce transportation and increase the reach of MSP operations.
  • Under this system, state governments undertake procurement and distribution of foodgrains by themselves.
  • With the substantial increase in production of foodgrains in recent years and with an emphasis on bringing Green Revolution in Eastern-India, the procurement operations have expanded to many states due to which accumulated Central Pool Stock of foodgrains had reached to a record level of 805.16 lakh tonnes in 2012 against the buffer norm of 319 lakh tonnes.

Stock in Central Pool:

  • Foodgrain Stocking Norms (Buffer Norms) were laid down:
    • To meet the prescribed minimum stocking norms for food security
    • To ensure monthly releases of foodgrains for the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), Other Welfare Schemes (OWS)
    • To meet emergency situations arising out of unexpected crop failure, natural disasters, festivals, etc.

National Food Security:

  • In order to further strengthen the commitment to the food security of the people, the Government of India enacted the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA), which came into force from 2013.
  • The Act aims to provide for food and nutritional security in human life cycle approach, by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people to live with dignity.
  • The Act provides for coverage of up to 75 percent of the rural population and up to 50 percent of the urban population for receiving subsidized foodgrains under Targeted Public Distribution System, thus covering about two-thirds of the population.
  • This coverage for receiving highly subsidized foodgrains is under two categories—households covered under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and the remaining households as priority households.
  • AAY was launched in 2000 to provide focus on food security to the poorest of the poor, and covers 2.5 crore households.
  • Such households are entitled under the Act to receive 35 kg. of foodgrains per households per month, at ? 1/2/3 per kg. for coarse grains/wheat/rice.
  • Priority households are entitled to receive 5 kg. of foodgrains per person per month at the above mentioned highly subsidized prices.
  • NFSA is now being implemented in all the states/UTs covering about 80.55 crore beneficiaries, against intended coverage of 81.34 crore people.
  • In Chandigarh, Puducherry and urban areas of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, the Act is being implemented in the cash transfer mode under which food subsidy is being transferred into the bank accounts of beneficiaries who then have a choice to buy foodgrains from open market.

End-to-End Computerisation:

  • Department of Food and Public Distribution is implementing a Plan Scheme on ‘End-to-End Computerisation’ of TPDS(Targeted Public Distribution System) Operations on cost sharing basis with states/UTs with funding requirement of Rs 884.07 crore, out of which Government of India’s share is Rs 489.37 crore and that of states/UTs is Rs 394.70 crore.

Integrated Management of PDS (IM-PDS):

  • A new central sector scheme– ‘Integrated Management of PDS’ (IM- PDS) is to be implemented during FY 2018-19 and 2019-20 for establishing Public Distribution System Network (PDSN) to inter alia implement national level deduplication of beneficiaries and portability.
  • The Scheme will strengthen better targeting of food subsidy and help the beneficiaries to lift foodgrains from the FPSs of their choice.
  • According to a notification issued in 2017 (as amended from time to time) under Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 the individual beneficiaries having ration cards under NFSA need to furnish proof of possession of Aadhaar number or undergo Aadhaar authentication to receive subsidies.

Other Welfare Schemes

Mid-Day Meal Scheme

  • The Mid-Day Meal Scheme is implemented by the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
  • The Scheme covers students of primary and upper primary classes in the government schools/schools aided by government and the schools run by local bodies.
  • Foodgrains are supplied free of cost at 100 grams for primary stage and at 150 grams for upper primary stage per child per school day where cooked/processed hot meal is being served or 3 kgs per student per month where raw foodgrains are distributed.

Wheat Based Nutrition Programme

  • By the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
  • The foodgrains allotted under it are utilized by the states/UTs under Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme for providing nutritious/energy food to children in the age group of 0-6 years and expectant/lactating women.

Scheme for Adolescent Girls

  • Foodgrains for the Scheme are allotted by the Department of Food and Public Distribution at BPL rates to the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

SABLA scheme:

  • It was launched in 2010 by merging two schemes namely, Nutrition Programme and Adolescent Girls (NPAG) and Kishori Shakti Yojana (KSY).
  • The requirement of foodgrains for nutrition is at 100 grams of grains per beneficiary per day for 300 days in a year.

Aims:

  • Empowering adolescent girls of 11-18 years by improvement of their nutritional and health status and upgrading various skills useful to them.
  • Equipping the girls on family welfare, health hygiene, etc., and guiding them on existing public services.

Supply of Foodgrains to Welfare Institutions

  • With a view to meeting the requirement of welfare institutions viz., charitable institutions such as beggar homes, nariniketans and other similar welfare institutions not covered under TPDS or under any other welfare schemes, an additional allocation of foodgrains (rice and wheat) not exceeding 5 per cent of the BPL allocation is made to states/UTs at BPL prices.

Supply of Foodgrains for SC/ST/OBC Hostels

  • This Scheme was introduced in 1994.
  • The residents of the hostels having 2/3rd resident students belonging to SC/ST/OBC are eligible to get 15 kg foodgrains per resident per month.

Annapurna Scheme

  • This Scheme is implemented by the Ministry of Rural Development.
  • Indigent senior citizens of 65 years of age or above who are not getting pension under the National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS), are provided 10 kgs. of foodgrains per person per month free of cost under it.

Open Market Sale Scheme (Domestic)

  • In addition to maintaining buffer stocks and for meeting the requirement of the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) and Other Welfare Schemes (OWS), the FCI sells excess stocks of wheat and rice from the Central Pool at predetermined prices in the open market from time to time under Open Market Sale Scheme (Domestic) through e-tender.

Storage of Foodgrains

Capacity of FCI and State Agencies

  • FCI has its own grid of covered godowns in all states to safely stock the central pool foodgrains.
  • In addition, it hires capacity from Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) and state agencies like state warehousing corporations as well as private parties.
  • Sufficient storage capacity is available and against 876.31 lakh MT capacity available, the Central stock of foodgrains stood at 627.13 lakh MT in July 2018.

Augmentation of Storage Capacity

  • In order to cope with increasing production and procurement of foodgrains, the Department is implementing private entrepreneurs guarantee (PEG) scheme for augmenting the covered storage capacity in the country.
  • Under the PEG scheme, which was launched in 2008, godowns are constructed in PPP mode and the land and construction cost is borne by the selected partners.
  • FCI on its part guarantees 10 year usage of storage capacities to the private investors and 9 years to CWC and SWCs.

Warehousing Development and Regulatory Authority:

  • For the growth and development of warehousing sector, to bring reforms in the agricultural marketing and to increase credit flow in the farm sector, the government introduced a negotiable warehouse receipt system in the country by enacting the Warehousing (Development and Regulation) Act, 2007 which is in place since 2010.
  • The government constituted the Warehousing Development and Regulatory Authority (WDRA) in 2010 for implementation of the provisions of the Act.
  • The Negotiable Warehouse Receipts (NWRs) issued against stocks of farm produces deposited by the farmers in warehouses would help the farmers in seeking loan from banks.
  • It would help overcoming the situation of distress sale of agricultural commodities by the farmers during peak harvest season.

Central Warehousing Corporation:

  • Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) is a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) set up 1957 under this Department to provide scientific storage facilities for agricultural produces, implements and other notified commodities.
  • By August 2018, CWC is operating 431 warehouses with a total storage capacity of 100.28 lakh MT including 44 custom bonded warehouses, 29 container freight stations/inland clearance depots, 3 air cargo complexes and 3 temperature controlled warehouses for providing services to the export/import trade.

Export and Import of Foodgrains

Export Policy of Rice and Wheat

  • The Government has allowed free export of non-basmati rice by private parties from privately held stocks from 2011.
  • Export of wheat was also allowed from the same year.
  • Export of non-basmati rice and wheat is permitted through Custom EDI ports.

Sugar

Sugar Production

  • Sugar industry is an important agro-based industry that impacts rural livelihood of about 50 million sugarcane farmers and their families and around 5 lakh workers directly employed in sugar mills.
  • India is the second-largest producer of sugar in the world after Brazil and is also the largest consumer.
  • Today Indian sugar industry’s annual output is worth approximately Rs 80,000 crore.
  • There are 742 installed sugar factories in the country as on March 31, 2019, with sufficient crushing capacity to produce around 343 lakh MT of sugar.
  • The capacity is roughly distributed equally between private sector units and cooperative sector units.
  • Two standalone refineries have also been established in the country in the coastal belt of Gujarat and West Bengal which produce refined sugar mainly from imported raw sugar as also from indigenously produced raw sugar.

Export of Sugar

  • Its sales, delivery from mills, and distribution were regulated under EC Act, 1955.
  • Till 1997, the exports of sugar were being carried out under the provisions of the Sugar Export Promotion Act, 1958, through the notified export agencies, viz., Indian Sugar and General Industry Export Import Corporation Ltd. (ISGIEIC) and State Trading Corporation of India Ltd. (STC).

Import of Sugar

  • Import of sugar, which was placed under OGL with zero duty in 1994, continued with zero duty upto 1999.
  • In the Union Budget for 1999-2000, duty on imported sugar was increased from 20 per cent to 25 per cent with surcharge of 10 per cent.

Review of Distribution of Sugar to Antyodaya Anna Yojana Families

  • The government has decided that the existing system of sugar distribution through PDS may be continued as per the following:-
  • The existing scheme of supply of subsidized sugar through PDS may be continued for restricted coverage of Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) families only.
  • They will be provided 1 kg of sugar per family per month
  • The current level of subsidy at Rs 18.50 per kg provided by the central government to states/UTs may be continued for the AAY population.
  • The revised scheme was implemented in 2017.

Ethanol Blending Petrol Programme

  • Ethanol is an agro-based product, mainly produced from a by-product of the sugar industry, namely molasses.
  • The Ethanol Blended Petrol Programme (EBP) seeks to achieve the blending of Ethanol with motor spirit with a view to reducing pollution, conserve foreign exchange and increase value addition in the sugar industry enabling them to clear cane price arrears of farmers.
  • The government has also notified new National Policy on Bio-Fuels, 2018 under which sugarcane juice has been allowed for the production of ethanol.

Sugar Development Fund

  • Under the Sugar Cess Act, 1982, a cess was collected as excise duty on all sugar produced and sold by any factory within the counrty which has now been abolished through Taxation Laws Amendment Act, 2017.
  • The cess so collected provided funds for Sugar Development Fund (SDF) through budgetary process.

Edible Oils:

  • The Department of Food and Public Distribution deals with issues related to the vegetable oil processing industries, price control, inter-state trade and commerce and also supply and distribution of vanaspati, oilseeds, vegetable oil, cakes and fats.

International Cooperation

SAARC Food Bank

  • In pursuance of the decision taken in the 14th SAARC Summit held in New Delhi in 2007, the Heads of States of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries signed the agreement to establish the SAARC Food Bank.
  • The Food Bank will supplement national efforts to provide food security to the people of the region.
  • As per this agreement, SAARC Food Bank is to have a reserve of foodgrains to be maintained by each member states consisting of either wheat or rice, or a combination of both as assessed share of the country.

Food and Agricultural Organisation and Committee on World Food

Security

  • Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) is one of the largest specialized agencies in the UN System founded in 1945 with a mandate to raise levels of nutrition and standard of living by improving agricultural productivity and living conditions of rural population.
  • The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) serves as a forum in the United Nations System for review and follow-up of policies concerning world food security, including food production, physical and economic access to food.
  • India is a member of both FAO and CFS.

International Grains Council

  • India is a member of the International Grains Council (IGC), an intergovernmental  forum of exporting and importing countries for cooperation in wheat and coarse grain matters which was previously known as International Wheat Council upto 1995.
  • It administers the Grains Trade Convention, 1995.
  • India is a signatory to the International Grains Agreement (IGA), 1995 and its Grain Trade Convention (GTC), 1995 which is effective from 1995.
  • IGC has two types of members—importing and exporting members.
  • India has been included in the category of exporting member in July, 2003 and represented in the meetings/sessions of the Council held from time to time.

Food Processing Industries:

  • The Ministry of Food Processing Industries was set up in July 1988 to give an impetus to the development of the food processing sector in the country.
  • Later this Ministry was made a Department and brought under the Ministry of Agriculture.
  • It was again made a ministry in 2001 and named Ministry of Food Processing Industries.
  • The Ministry is concerned with formulation and implementation of the policies for the food processing industries within the overall national priorities and objectives.

Food Processing Industries

Contribution of Food Processing Sector

  • India ranks number one in the world in the production of milk, ghee, ginger, bananas, guavas, papayas and mangoes.
  • India ranks second in the world in the production of rice, wheat and several other vegetables and fruits.
  • Abundant supply of raw materials, increase in demand for food products and incentives offered by the Government has impacted food processing sector positively.

Employment in Food Processing Sector

  • Food processing industry is one of the major employment intensive segments constituting 12.77 per cent of employment generated in all registered factory sector in 2014-15.
  • According to the Annual Survey of Industries (ASI) data for 2014-15, the total number of persons engaged in registered food processing sector was 17.73 lakhs.

FDI in Food Processing Sector

  • Cent per cent FDI is permitted under the automatic route in food processing industries- manufacturing sector.
  • FDI is allowed through approval route for trading, including through e commerce in respect of food products manufactured and/or produced in India.

Food Processing and Make in India

  • With a view to attract investment to this sector, Ministry of Food Processing Industries has been implementing schemes for development of infrastructure for promoting food processing industries.

Food Parks and Cold Chain

  • Ministry is following transparent selection process and on line filing claims for the infrastructure development projects of Mega Food Parks and Cold Chain and all other schemes under Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampda Yojana (PMKSY).
  • A dedicated investors’s portal called ‘Nivesh Bandhu’ was launched in 2017 to aid and assist potential investors in the food processing sector in taking informed decision.

Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana

  • PMKSY were launched in 2017 to give necessary thrust for accelerated growth of the sector.
  • PMKSY is a comprehensive package resulting in creation of modern infrastructure with efficient supply chain management from farm gate to retail outlet.

Mega Food Parks Scheme

  • Mega Food Parks Scheme, being implemented since 2008, aims to create a modern food processing infrastructure for the processing units based on a cluster approach and on a hub and spoke model in a demand driven manner.
  • The broader idea behind the scheme is to bring together farmers, processors, and retailers and link agricultural production to the market so as to ensure maximization of value addition, minimization of wastages and improving farmers’ income.

Scheme of Operation Greens

  • MoFPI launched a new central sector scheme “Operation Greens—A scheme for integrated development of Tomato, Onion and Potato”.
  • Operational Guidelines for the scheme of “Operation Greens” are uploaded on the website of the Ministry.

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