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Published : November 21, 2010 | Author : rahulshrivastava
Category : Law - lawyers & legal Profession | Total Views : 5201 | Unrated

Rahul Shrivastava Student: HNLU, Raipur (2nd Yr.)

Development and Human Right to Food

Economic development is the increase in the standard of living in a nation's population with sustained growth from a simple, low-income economy to a modern, high-income economy. Also, if the local quality of life could be improved, economic development would be enhanced. Its scope includes the process and policies by which a nation improves the economic, political, and social well-being of its people.

Gonçalo L Fonsesca at the New School for Social Research defines economic development as "the analysis of the economic development of nations.”

The University of Iowa's Center for International Finance and Development states that:

"'Economic development' is a term that economists, politicians, and others have used frequently in the 20th century. The concept, however, has been in existence in the West for centuries. Modernization, Westernization, and especially Industrialization are other terms people have used when discussing economic development. Although no one is sure when the concept originated, most people agree that development is closely bound up with the evolution of capitalism and the demise of feudalism."

Economic development is the development of economic wealth of countries or regions for the well-being of their inhabitants. This is the short definition of Economic Development. Economic Growth & development are two different terms used in economics. Generally speaking economic development refers to the problems of underdeveloped countries and economic growth to those of developed countries.

By Economic Growth we simply mean increase in per capita income or increase in GNP. In recent literature, the term economic growth refers to sustained increase in a country's output of goods and services, or more precisely product per capita. Output is generally measured in terms of GNP.

The term economic development is far more comprehensive. It implies progressive changes in the socio-economic structure of a country. Viewed in this way economic development Involves a steady decline in agricultural shares in GNP and continuous increase in shares of industries, trade banking construction and services. Further whereas economic growth merely refers to rise in output; development implies change in technological and institutional organization of production as well as in distributive pattern of income.

Hence, compared to the objective of development, economic growth is easy realize. By a larger mobilization of resources and raising their productivity, output level can be raised. The process of development is far more extensive. Apart from a rise in output, it involves changes in composition of output, shift in the allocation of productive resources, and elimination or reduction of poverty, inequalities and unemployment.

In the words of Amartya Sen "Development requires the removal of major sources of un freedom poverty as well as tyranny, poor economic opportunities as well as systematic social deprivation neglect of public facilities as well as intolerance or over activity of repressive states."

Economic development is not possible without growth but growth is possible without development because growth is just increase in GNP It does not have any other parameters to it. Development can be conceived as Multi-Dimensional process or phenomena. If there is increase in GNP more than the increase in per capita Income then we can say that Development is possible. When given conditions of population improves then we can say that this is also an indicator of economic Development.

Traditionally economists have made little if any distinction between economic growth and economic development using the terms almost synonymously.

As a concept, Economic development can be seen as a complex multi-dimensional concept involving improvements in human well-being, however defined Critics point out that GDP is a narrow measure of economic welfare that does not take account of important non-economic aspects example. more leisure time, access to health & education, environment, freedom or social justice. Economic growth is a necessary but insufficient condition for economic development.

Professor Dudley Seers argues development is about outcomes ie development occurs with the reduction and elimination of poverty, inequality and unemployment within a growing economy.

Professor Michael Todaro sees three objectives of development:

· Producing more life sustaining necessities such as food, shelter & healthcare and broadening their distribution.

· Raising standards of living and individual self esteem.

· Expanding economic and social choice and reducing fear.

The UN has developed a widely accepted set of indices to measure development against a mix of composite indicators:

UN's Human Development Index (HDI) measures a country's average achievements in three basic dimensions of human development: life expectancy, educational attainment and adjusted real income ($PPP per person).

UN's Human Poverty Index (HPI) measure deprivation using % of people expected to die before age 40, % of illiterate adults, % of people without access to health services and safe water and the % of underweight children under five.

GDP growth rate
Since the economic liberalization of 1991, India's GDP has been growing at a higher rate.


Growth (real) (%)





















Human Right To Food
Alongside the developments in international law described in the preceding sections, numerous conferences and non-binding international declarations and resolutions have helped to shape the emerging international consensus on norms regarding the human right to adequate food. In 1974 the World Food Conference issued a Universal Declaration on the Eradication of Hunger and Malnutrition. It asserted that "Every man, woman and child has the inalienable right to be free from hunger and malnutrition in order to develop fully and maintain their physical and mental faculties." That declaration was endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in Resolution 3348 (XXIX) of December 17, 1974 (Declaration 1974).

In response to concerns about inappropriate marketing and promotion, the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes was adopted by the World Health Assembly (WHA) in 1981 (International Code 1981. The WHA has approved a series of resolutions in subsequent years to further clarify and strengthen the code. The constitution of the World Health Organization says that "the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being . . . ", clearly implying the human right to adequate food (Brundtland 2000). An International Conference on Nutrition, organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization, was held in Rome in December 1992.

The idea of the human right to adequate food was frequently endorsed. In his address opening the conference His Holiness Pope John Paul II said:

It is up to you to reaffirm in a new way each individual's fundamental and inalienable right to nutrition. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights had already asserted the right to sufficient food. What we must now do is ensure that this right is applied and that everyone has access to food, food security, a healthy diet and nutrition education. In the conference's concluding World Declaration on Nutrition, the nations of the world agreed that "access to nutritionally adequate and safe food is a right of each individual."

In July 1996, as part of the preparatory work for the World Food Summit, a meeting on “The Fundamental Human Right to Food” was called by the president of Venezuela and held in Caracas. The Caracas statement called for the development of a Code of Conduct that would clarify the content of the right to food and provide guidance regarding its realization. This statement helped to highlight the importance of the right to food at the World Food Summit.

In November 1996 the World Food Summit concluded with agreement on the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and World Food Summit Plan of Action. The first paragraph declared:

"We, the Heads of State and Government, or our representatives, gathered at the World Food Summit at the invitation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, reaffirm the right of everyone to have access to safe and nutritious food, consistent with the right to adequate food and the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger."

All these efforts were given further impetus at the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000. The eight Millennium Development Goals, supported by all 189 nations at the summit, were led off by one goal : eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.

Human Right to Food in India
The Supreme Court Case
On April 16, 2001, the PUCL submitted a “writ petition” to the Supreme Court of India asking three major questions:
1. Starvation deaths have become a National Phenomenon while there is a surplus stock of food grains in government godowns. Does the right to life mean that people who are starving and who are too poor to buy food grains free of cost by the State from the surplus stock lying with the State particularly when it is lying unused and rotting?

2. Does not the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India include the right to food?

3. Does not the right to food which has been upheld by the apex Court imply that the State has a duty to provide food especially in situations of drought to people who are drought effected and are not in a position to purchase food.

Article 21 of the constitution, entitled “Protection of life and personal liberty”, says, in its entirety, “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law”.

As a result of the ongoing proceedings, the Supreme Court has been issuing orders calling upon government agencies to identify the needy within their jurisdictions, and to assure that they receive adequate food. On July 23, 2001, the court said:

In our opinion, what is of utmost importance is to see that food is provided to the aged, infirm, disabled, destitute women, destitute men who are in danger of starvation, pregnant and lactating women and destitute children, especially in cases where they or members of their family do not have sufficient funds to provide food for them. In case of famine, there may be shortage of food, but here the situation is that amongst plenty there is scarcity. Plenty of food is available, but distribution of the same amongst the very poor and the destitute is scarce and non-existent leading to mal-nourishment, starvation and other related problems.

On September 3, 2001, the court directed that 16 states and union territories that had not identified families below the poverty line must do so within two weeks, so that those families could be provided with food assistance. After two weeks, on September 17, 2001, the court reprimanded them, saying, “we are not satisfied that any such exercise in the right earnestness has been undertaken.” They were then given another three weeks to comply with the order. The court also reminded the states that “certain schemes of the Central Government are mentioned which are required to be implemented by State Governments”:

These schemes are: Employment Assurance Scheme which may have been replaced by a Sampurna Gramin Yojana, Mid-day Meal Scheme, Integrated Child Development Scheme, National Benefit Maternity Scheme for BPL pregnent women, National Old Age Pension Scheme for destitute persons of over 65 years, Annapurna Scheme, Antyodaya Anna Yojana, National Family Benefit Scheme and Public Distribution Scheme for BPL & APL families. The Chief Secretaries of all the States & the Union Territories are hereby directed to report to the Cabinet Secretary, with copy to the learned Attorney General, within three weeks from today with regard to the implementation of all or any of these Schemes with or without any modification and if all or any of the Schemes have not been implemented then the reasons for the same.

All state governments were directed to take their “entire allotment of foodgrains from the Central Government under the various Schemes and disburse the same in accordance with the Schemes”. Further, the court required that “the Food for Work Programme in the scarcity areas should also be implemented by the various States to the extent possible”. On November 28, 2001, the court issued directions to eight of the major schemes, calling on them to identify the needy and to provide them with grain and other services by early 2002. For example, for the Targeted Public Distribution Scheme, “The States are directed to complete the identification of BPL (below poverty level) families, issuing of cards, and commencement of distribution of 25 kgs. grain per family per month latest by 1st January, 2002”.

Schemes to ensure food security
The central food schemes and other assistance programmes for the poor in India are:

targeted public distribution system;
· Antyodaya Anna Yojana;
· mid day meal scheme;
· Annapoorna Yojana;
· integrated child development services;
· national family benefit scheme;
· national maternity benefit scheme;

The public distribution system (PDS)
The public distribution system (PDS) is one of the systems for improving food security at the household level. PDS is a food subsidy programme explicitly targeted towards the poor and accounts for about half of the total spending on anti-poverty programmes by the central government. PDS ensures the availability of essential commodities like rice, wheat, sugar, edible oils and kerosene to consumers through a network of outlets, fair price stabilization, and as an alternative channel to provide trade.

Annapoorna Yojana
Annapoorna Yojana is a programme that is linked to the targeted PDS. It provides ten kilograms (kg) of food per month free-of-charge to indigent citizens living alone. Approved during the 1992/2000 budgets, it is now being operationalized, and targets those who do not live with their children in the same village. The Ministry of Rural Development of the government of India is charged with its implementation.

Antyodaya Anna Yojana
This programme was introduced in early 2001. It is addressed to the poorest of the poor, as identified by gram sabhas (village council meetings) and gram panchayats (village councils). Antyodaya households are provided with a special ration card which entitles the household to 35 kg of grain per month at highly subsidized prices (Rs 2/kg for wheat and Rs 3/kg for rice). A major limitation of this scheme is its restricted coverage, as it covers only less than 5 per cent of the population.

Mid day meals scheme (MDMS)
Under the mid day meals scheme, all children in government and government-assisted schools are provided a free, hot cooked midday meal for at least 200 days per year. Central government is providing money for the construction of kitchen sheds and for the cooking. This scheme is a major relief for poor children and an encouragement to them to go to school. As per a Supreme Court order, SC/ST people are to be given preference as cooks/helpers. In the 2004/5 budget, the allocation for the MDMS was Rs 1,675 crore and was increased to Rs 3,010 crore in the 2005/6 budget

In any rights system there are three distinct roles to be fulfilled: the rights holders, the duty bearers, and the agents of accountability. The task of the agents of accountability is to make sure that those who have the duty carry out their obligations to those who have the rights. To describe a rights system, we need to know the identities and also the functions of those who carry out these roles. We would also want to know the mechanisms or structures through which these functions are to be carried out. Thus, we would want to know:

1. The nature of the rights holders and their rights; 2. The nature of the duty-bearers and their obligations corresponding to the rights of the rights holders; and 3. The nature of the agents of accountability, and the procedures through which they assure that the duty bearers meet their obligations to the rights holders. The accountability mechanisms include, in particular, the remedies available to the rights holders themselves.

These are the three core components, the "ABCs" of rights systems. A rights system can be understood as a kind of cybernetic self-regulating arrangement designed to assure that rights are realized. In any cybernetic system, a goal is decided upon, and means are established for reaching that goal. In addition, there are specific means for making corrections in case there are deviations from the path toward the goal. This is the self-regulating aspect of the system. With regard to food rights, the goal is to end hunger and food insecurity.

Any government can say it has such lofty goals. These things may even be promised in the nation’s constitution. But we know that there are many cases in which governments go off course and fail to deliver on their promises. In nations where there is an effective rights system, however, there are specific mechanisms for calling the government to account; that is, for making course corrections. The most fundamental of these mechanisms of accountability is for rights holders themselves to have effective remedies through which they can complain and have the government’s behavior corrected. This is the missing piece in India’s food rights system. Where there are no effective remedies, there are no effective rights. Intervention by the Supreme Court is a mechanism of accountability, but it is not normally available to ordinary people on a local basis. The present Supreme Court case in India has become necessary because there are no effective mechanisms of accountability available to ordinary people at the local level. Until local people know their rights and know that they have effective means through which to exercise them, there is no effective system of food rights in India.

Enforcing Right To Food in India
Right to Food and Development
Right To Food As A Human Right
Right to food of Children in India

Authors contact info - articles The author can be reached at: rahulshrivastava@legalseviceindia.com

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