Scotland is just a few steps away from making ‘right to food’ a reality. It is surprising to note that even a prosperous country like Scotland suffers from food insecurity. However, it’s never too later to better a bad situation.
The Independent Working Group on Food Poverty released its report Dignity in June 2016, which is now being considered by Equalities Secretary Angela Constance. The aim of the report was to present recommendations which would not completely eradicate food insecurity in Scotland but would at least help in the betterment of the situation.
The report focuses at promising a dignified life to the people of Scotland by ensuring that they have access to ‘adequate, nutritious and culturally appropriate food, without the need for emergency food aid’.
Why should the right to food be enshrined within the law?
Tackling food insecurity is a long and time-consuming process. By binding right to food under the Scot Law would make it the responsibility of the government to ensure that food is made accessible and easily available to its citizens. At the same time, it would also ensure consistency in the process of eradicating food insecurity, in case there is a change in government.
It is also important to mention that Article 11 of the 1966 International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which has been signed by Scotland in 1976 makes it the responsibility of the state to ensure adequate food to its citizens. Therefore, incorporating the right to food in the Scot law would help make the government accountable to the covenant as well as the people of Scotland.
Now, we all are aware that mere declaration of a law will not ensure that food insecurity disappears from Scotland. The Independent Working Group on Food Poverty recommends that the government sets a system to constantly keep a check on poverty and food insecurity levels in Scotland. However, concrete measures seem to have not been discussed in their report.
Even though Scotland is a way more prosperous than India, the reasons for food insecurity are rather similar – low income, insecure work, and inadequate benefits. Right to food is ensured under the Indian constitution, although it has not been implemented well. The country still suffers from food price inflation and high poverty levels.
IF the Scotland government does decide to enshrine the right to food, it is still a matter of years before its actual result can be noticed.
Will their state be like that of India, or will they create a path for India to follow? – whatever might be the answer, all we can hope is that the basic requirement of roti, kapda makaan are met at the earliest in the two countries.
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Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.