Poverty and Food Security in India
This paper is an attempt to analyze the impact of two of India’s largest food security interventions—the Public Distribution System (PDS) and the Mid Day Meal Scheme (MDM)—on poverty outcomes and on nutritional intake. This paper offers a simple methodology to take into account the impact of food-based transfers by including the implicit transfers from these schemes along with generating consumption expenditure estimates consistent with the transfers. The preliminary analysis shows the significant impact of the PDS and MDM in terms of poverty reduction and calorie intake. While there are large variations across states, the analysis shows that the schemes have not only improved efficiency in the last 2 decades but have also contributed significantly to poverty reduction. Almost half of the poverty reduction in the distribution-sensitive measures such as the squared poverty gap (SPG) between 2004–2005 and 2009–2010 is explained by the improved efficiency and coverage of these schemes. There is also evidence that the functioning of these schemes, particularly the PDS, has improved in recent years. This is particularly true in states that have followed a universal or quasi-universal coverage along with low cereal prices.
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