PDS and Human Right

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A human right group has thrown light on the mismatch of work done and the record that are maintained in government file. The Human Rights Initiative (HRI) has sent a request to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India on April 7 seeking intervention on the way the Targeted Public Distribution System function in the state. The group has alleged that the Targeted Public Distribution System has failed in the state as the guidelines of PDS (Public Distribution System) control and an interim order of the Supreme Court, writ petition number 169 of 2001, have not been complied. They have also alleged that the MLAs and the ministers are either directly or indirectly involved in siphoning off the food grains which are supposed to be distributed to the poor through the PDS. In a report published by the group, ‘The Food Drama’ a detail status on the functioning of PDS in Manipur has been brought out for the public to go through it. This research based report is headed by an expert who had formerly served as member of the Manipur Planning Advisory Committee. A report of this kind is a timely intervention from a human right group. The report makes an effort to demystify the skewed notion of human right, which is generally construed as something that is concern only with excesses committed by the security forces while dealing with people. This is put forwarded in the preface of the report that ‘Manipur is an armed conflict ridden state… consequently; gross human right violations are a daily experience.’ It emphasised that ‘the deprivation of Right to Food is one of the most important human rights violation committed by the State and non-state actors in Manipur’. We would say this is indeed a bold proposition that the right group have placed in a public document. The report has put on record the historical events like the Nupilal of 1939 and the Hunger Marchers Day of 27th August 1965, which purportedly gave a foundational bed for movement like the Meira Paibi and student group like AMSU to grow to its present day form. These movements, as they have rightly argued, sprouted from the problem of food scarcity. An important point that the group have vociferously asserted is the irony that today’s civil organisations; eminent personalities and other pressure groups have been keeping quite when there is a serious crisis of PDS, wherein a plunder has been taking place in great scale. Whether it is the civil organisation or the NGO, their silence against such violation of right is because of fear. This is true particularly when one cannot identify the perpetrator. As it is said, that like the politicians, the state and the non-state actors have become strange bed fellows, nothing is in black or white – things are all hazy and grey. We would like to congratulate the team of Manipur Cultural Integration Conference and Human Rights Initiative Manipur for coming out with a report of this kind. A wide range of data from various districts is included, along with the analysis. A case study of Senapati is also part of the report, with an overview of the performance of the state. The report will serve not only as a guidebook for PDS and its related studies but it will also give direction to unearth the covert activities that has been taking place. On a critical note what is seemingly missing is a closer look into the administrative lexicons of Governmental Schemes and the term of reference like BPL, APL, RTF etc. which are mostly confined with the economist and the Planning Commission, and mostly guided economic policies of different government that comes to power. For instance, the definition of poverty is a matter of debate. Nevertheless, the report could be just the beginning for an onward march to wider vistas.

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