The Government of India last year in December took a great decision to provide free ration to 810 million (81 crore) poor people under the public distribution system programme through National Food Security Act (NFSA) for a period of one year. Under NFSA, the government has already been providing 5 kilogram of food grains per person per month @ Rs 2-3 per kg. The families covered under Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) get 35 kg of food grains per month. The annual cost for providing free ration to 81 crore people is estimated at Rs 2 lakh crore (30.76 Billion USD). Providing 810 million population free ration is indeed a great achievement and developing nations need to replicate this model in their countries. People, especially children in many poor nations like Burundi, Somalia, Mozambique, Sudan, Niger and many other African nations die of hunger. These countries can start free ration supply programmes or provide subsidised ration @ Rs 2 to 3 / Kg on the pattern of National Food Security Act (NFSA) and G20 nations can meet these expenses. In fact the Govt of India has always been known for its great food policy as subsidised food grains have been provided to the poor in the country for the last many decades. Getting subsidised food grains is a right in India under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) & this can be made a right in the other poor nations as well. In addition to it, the rural housing scheme like PM Awas Yojna (PMAY) and supplying clean drinking water under Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) are two other Govt’s social development programmes which need be highlighted during the upcoming G20 leadership summit and they too can be replicated in the aforementioned countries. To support poor nations in countering hunger , providing sustainable housing , drinking water and sanitation is also mandatory under the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set up in 2015 are the guiding principles to achieve better growth and development across the world by 2030. By adhering to these goals the nations are likely to address challenges which include climate change, environment, inequality, poverty, peace and justice. Economic growth, environmental protection and social inclusion are three core elements of sustainable development. The sustainable environment and climate can only be achieved when we ensure increased investments in renewable energy, saving water, supporting non fossil fuel sustainable mobility. Governments across the world are making great innovations in sustainable construction and architecture and India is also playing a great role in this sector like utilising construction and demolition waste (CND), fly ash, M-sand and other materials. The advancements made in these sustainability sectors by India should also be discussed during G 20 meetings. Pertinently Govt of India has allocated Rs 10,000 Crore this financial year for setting up Compressed Biogas-CBG units which is indeed a great achievement towards achieving sustainable energy transition.
One family, One World , One Future
As per the national review report on the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in India, the opening statement begins with Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, which is a Sanskrit phrase whose literal meaning is “the world is one family”. Having been much influenced by this phrase, the Govt of India chose the same title ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’for the upcoming G20 meeting which India is hosting for the first time. Even the Director of International Monetary Fund (IMF) Kristina Georgieva during her visit to India in February this year said that One Earth One Family and One Future resonates on a human level with all. Ms Georgieva said this while addressing G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Bengaluru.
Hosting G20 summit
For the first time India will be hosting the G-20 leadership summit which will be held in New Delhi around September this year. The member nations in G20 include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the U.K. and the US, as well as the European Union, represented by the rotating council presidency and the European Central Bank. Over 200 meetings will be held in over 50 cities across 32 different work streams which include ministers meetings, working groups meetings on health , agriculture , culture , environment, climate change , anti corruption, energy transitions, education etc. Srinagar is also hosting one of the G20 meetings from May 22 to 24th. The G 20 nations including India have to play a great role in eradicating poverty and addressing the climate crisis in the least developing nations. There are millions of people who struggle to make ends meet because of the high cost of living. Millions cannot afford fuel even for cooking. Safe and clean drinking water is not available in many nations. By showcasing its achievements in the social welfare sectors like public distribution system (PDS) , housing for poor PMAY and supply of clean drinking water under Jal Jeevan Mission-JJM, similar welfare programmes can be replicated in underdeveloped nations.
The G20 nations under the presidency of India are focussed on the theme, ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future. As the World is like one family, it is the duty of G-20 nations to work for upliftment of underdeveloped nations. India can showcase its success stories with G20 nations during the series of meetings vis a vis implementation of its centrally sponsored schemes on food , housing for poor, supplying of clean drinking water and many other social welfare programmes. Jammu & Kashmir’s 22 % of the total annual budget (Rs 5000 Crores) has been allocated towards enhancing the drinking water sector this financial year under Jal Jeevan Mission -JJM which clearly indicates the seriousness of the Govt to undertake social developmental programmes. I think during the series of G 20 meetings these issues need to be showcased so that representatives of the G 20 nations can take steps to support implementation of these welfare programmes in poor and under-developed nations. If India succeeds in achieving this target, it will be known as Jagat Guru (world leader) in real sense in the coming years.
Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat is an Acumen Fellow. He is Chairman & Founder of Jammu & Kashmir Right to Information
Movement ( RTI Movement).
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.