The central government has decided to extend the free food distribution program ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana’ (PMGKAY) till September this year. With this decision of the Center, more than 80 crore poor people of the country have got relief once again. The central government had launched a scheme in March 2020 to provide free ration to people struggling to survive during the lockdown during the COVID pandemic. Under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, poor families are given five kilograms of food grains per person free of cost. So far, the government has distributed a total of 759 lakh tonnes of food grains to the states and union territories.

Yogi government in Uttar Pradesh gave free food grains to poor families for three months

If seen, both these decisions are very humane, because even after 24 months of the epidemic, the situation has not returned to normal. Millions of people are forced to live below the poverty line. This is a serious problem today, as the national unemployment rate exceeds eight percent. Even governments may not know exactly how long it will take to restore 100 per cent of the jobs lost during the pandemic. Although the top economists of the Government of India had suggested that the free food scheme should now be discontinued to revive the pre-corona economy completely, the Modi government did not agree and extended the deadline.

It is worth noting that the provision of free ration to the general public at the time of need has become possible only because the government has procured a record quantity of food grains from the farmers even during the pandemic. Due to higher prices of crops, farmers have been encouraged to increase production further.

It is learned that the farmers have made the decision to pursue the free food grain scheme possible. Government granaries are full at the moment and record grain production is expected in the near future. Therefore, the government has no problem in pursuing this scheme at the moment. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the entire country in many ways. It has directly and indirectly harmed the lives of the people and their livelihood. It has shaken the weakest section of the society.

However, doubts were being expressed that the government would either scrap it or make some cuts after the elections. Doubts were explicitly disproved. Now the poor will not have to go hungry more or less at the central and state level. If the food grains to be distributed during the next six months are added together, then the Government of India will provide 1003 lakh metric tonnes of food grains free of cost to the poor. This amount is unprecedented. The government has so far spent Rs 2.60 lakh crore on this scheme and Rs 80,000 crore has been spent on it in the next six months.