While the litigation of a case on the Right to Food is continuing, interim orders are issued by the Supreme Court. The most significant among these orders are on “food schemes” which refer explicit food entitlement and or cash assistance to every one particularly to the poorest of the poor.
Below is each scheme's main features:
- Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) – allows the distribution of food-grain and other basic commodities at subsidized price through Fair Price Shops (FPSs).
- Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) – provides special food assistance through a ration card to destitute households. Cardholders are entitled to 35 kilograms of food-grain a month at Rs. 2/kg for wheat and Rs. 3/kg for rice.
- National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS) – provides a pension to senior citizens with no assured means of subsistence. The coverage and the eligibility of the scheme vary from state to state.
- National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS) – ensures a cash assistance of Rs. 10,000 to a BPL family in case of demise of a primary breadwinner.
- National Maternity Benefit Scheme (NMBS) – secures maternity benefits to BPL pregnant women. The scheme entitles them to Rs. 500 cash assistance.
- Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) – provides supplementary nutrition, health care, and pre-school education to children of age six and below through Anganwadi Centers. As an integrated package of service to children, it extends to adolescent girls, and pregnant and lactating mothers.
- National Programme of Nutrtional Support to Primary Education or Mid-Day Meal Scheme (MDMS) - guarantees every child who attends at government or government-assisted primary schools a nutritious, cooked mid-day meal every day.
Food schemes are converted by the Supreme Court into “legal entitlements” in its order dated 28 November 2001. Embedded in this order is a direction to State Governments to fully implement them according to official guidelines.
Meanwhile, a law - Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Guarantee Employment Act (MGNREGA) - which provides a work guarantee to the rural people deemed the most destitute segment of the population is enacted to improve their purchasing power and eventually alleviate their poverty.