Rs 2 per Kg Rice Scheme
AP Role model in anti-poverty program-
Andhra PradeshGovernament has always been at the forefront of anti-poverty programs in the country.
Inspired by the Garibi Hatao slogan of the former Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi subsequent Congress regimes all over the country had launched programs to provide essential commodities and staple food at subsidized rates.
The Dr.Y.S.Rajasekahra Reddy will launch the Rs. Two per Kg rice scheme on April 9th all over Andhra Pradesh with the goal of providing adequate staple food for all the poorest of the poor population in the state.
“We have succeeded in achieving a record food grain production of 195 lakh tons this year and energizing the agricultural sector. Now we can take care of all the poor in the state by giving them safe and cheaper food grains which they can buy from their wage earnings from the successful NREGS scheme “ says Dr. Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy .
The scheme will benefit 1.72 lakh Below poverty level (BPL) families holding the white card with a maximum of 20 kgs at the rate of four kgs per member in the family of five members costing the state government a total of Rs.1980 crore in the form of subsidy for the scheme.
Although the state received rice allotment from the centre under the Antyodayan Anna Yojana of the centre, the state government has decided to provide rice at an additional subsidy burden of Rs. Two per kg to all without differentiating among the poor beneficiaries.As part of the effort the AP government is providing rice at Rs.Two per kg to 1.72 crore BPL card holders, nearly 22 lakh APL (above poverty level) pink card holders and beneficiaries of the AAY scheme. However for the benefits of the students in social welfare hostels and NCLP and RBC beneficiaries the state government has fixed the price at just Rs. Four per kg while 25 kgs of rice is given free of cost to the crippled and destitute among the weavers community in the state.
The objective was to reduce poverty levels in rural villages by providing staple food at prices below market prices. It was felt that such an initiative helped the poorest of the poor and destitute families by providing them at least two morsels of food every day while they strived for livelihood wages as farm labor.
Congress Chief Minister K Vijayabhaskar Reddy launched the scheme:
The credit for introducing the scheme in earnest goes to Sri K.Vijaybhaskar Reddy, the veteran congress chief minister in 1982. He introduced the scheme to sell rice at Rs.1.90 to Rs.2.15 per kg at fair price shops all over the state when the issue price (state average market price) was just Rs.2.52 per kg.
The program was made available to agricultural labor, marginal farmers, artisans and other similarly placed groups with an income level of below Rs.6000 per annum.
Scheme Modified and diluted by the TDP
The success of the scheme was such that even the subsequent Telugu Desam government was compelled to enforce the scheme. The then chief minister N T Rama Rao re-introduced the scheme at a flat rate of Rs.Two per kg when the state average market price was Rs.2.74 per kg.
The TDP government politicized the scheme and used it as their political and election plank subsequently. In view of the huge burden on the state exchequers the scheme was haphazardly implemented. By the end of the first TDP regime the rice scheme had shot up to Rs.3.50 per kg.
When the congress party came to power again in 1989 the scheme was implemented whole heartedly to benefit the poorest of the poor the prices were once again brought down to the pre -1983 rate of Rs.1.90 per kg even when the market prices were Rs.3.87 per kg of rice.
Subsequently when the market prices shot up to Rs.5.90 per kg of common variety of rice the state government pegged down the subsidy component to Rs. Two only and revised the tariff to Rs.3.50 per kg.But the Congress government ensured that not a single poor was left out from the scheme and the quantum of 25 kgs per family of four was ensured .
After the TDP resumed power in 1995 the regional party brought out lot of changes in the scheme to suit its policies as its policy of prohibition had almost made the state bankrupt.
The TDP government also hiked the price of rice to Rs. 5.50 and later reduced to Rs.5.25 in view of the public uproar as the market prices of common variety of rice soared to Rs.12.37 per kg. Even then the pro- urban and pro-IT Government of Chandrababu Naidu dilly dallied and reduced the quantum of rice per family from 25 to 20 15 kgs.
Rajasekhara Reddy Governments’ determined resolve:
The Dr.Y.S.Rajasekhara Reddy government has now focused on providing the poorest of poor adequate food grains for sustenance and also for promoting gainful employment in the agricultural sector.
Ever since it took over in 2004 the congress government had endeared itself for the betterment of the livelihood of the farmers and for rural development.
The Key criteria of the Dr.Y.S.Rajasekahra Reddy Government is to promote sustainable agricultural activity for the farmers, provide agricultural infrastructures like irrigation projects, free power, subsidized seed and fertilizers as agricultural input subsidies.
The YSR government took up massive irrigation projects (JALAYAGNAM) developing basic amenities in villages on par with towns under INDIRAMMA scheme, provision of health insurance (RAJIV AGROGYASREE) and create employment generation (RAJIV UDYOGSRI).
“What we aimed was to provide sustainable agricultural activity in village to stem migration of farmers to cities in search of livelihood activity and also take up saturation level infrastructure development in rural areas so that to encourage the educated rural youth to become partners in national building activities from wherever they were located “ says the chief minister Y S Rajasekahra Reddy.
AP Role Model
The Rs.Two rice scheme of Andhra Pradesh had found acceptance as a popular anti-poverty measure all over the country.
The Government launched the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) for the poorest of the poor on 25 December 2000. Under this scheme, 25 kg of food grain was made available to each eligible family at highly subsidized rates of Rs two per kg for wheat and Rs three per kg for rice.
The scheme is still operational but for a limited section of the BPL families in the country while the new scheme of the AP government encompasses the entire BPL spectrum in the state . The scheme also provided for sustenance of the aged, poor and destitute families in villages during the famines, droughts and other natural calamities.