Monday, August 30, 2010

Case of Food Security

International Cricket Council {ICC} Chief and also co-incidentally the Union Agriculture Minister of India, Mr.Sharad Pawar has recentally came out with his shocking though expected denouncement of Supreme Court’s sincere observation that “In a country where admittedly people are starving, it is a crime to waste even a single grain”, such out of consineful convictions are usual features within the top legislative authorities…his economic sense allows him to count the salvage value of lakhs of tones rotting grains every year during the monsoon season {from flood affected North Bihar districts to debt-ridden districts of Maharashtra-Andhra Pradesh},instead to disburse them to millions of hungry Indian citizens.
Apart from flawed macro agri policy formulation, shortage of hygienic storage capacity and tall greed of Food Corporation of India {FCI} officials are exactly making things hell. UPA II government is fixed with obstinate ideology and economics that visualizes every welfare scheme including the universalization of food as “Subsidy burden”. Slashing of Rs.450 Crore, from food subsidy in the current fiscal; truly explicit the government’s role as an enabler, contrary to the erstwhile interventionist role.

Every basic means, either the money or grains are being presented as an obstruction by the government, despite witnessing a fabulous growth and adding 49 billionaires and 100,000 millionaires in a decade. Alas! This fortunate wealthy class hardly reflect the actual pulse of India’s real economy…Raghuram G Rajan has rightly noticed such overwhelming increase of Indian wealthy class as by product of theirs connection or Juggad with political affluents{Fault Lines}. Among those wealthy class, the top three sectors of theirs interest have been tax-exempted near the Rs.500, 000 crore during the last budget; dualism has taken its course and no hue& cries were raised from the fiscal management point of view though entire machinery were exactly the same.
For curtailing the universalization of Public Distribution System {PDS} which is not less than a backbone for the both urban and rural poors, a flawed Above Poverty Line{APL}-Below Poverty Line{BPL} created and were propagated as enemy camp. Such folly making lives terrible for countless families who stuck with the APL status and loosing all the government’s aid in spite of having only slightly different socio-economic status.

So, categorization poses similar adversity as of policy directives for majority of Indians; consequently the average daily net per capita availability of food grain between 2005-08 was a dismal 436 grams per Indian against the 440 grams per Indian in 1955-58-further, decline of pulse consumption is havocking, from 70 grams in 1955-58, it came down to 35 grams in 2005-08 {P.Sainath, Oliver Twist seeks food security, The Hindu, August 12, 2010}. Such terrible consumption level among the majority of Indians are the result of growing commercial pressure on forming that forces farmers to opt for cash crops instead of food-corps and inability of government to either distribute the rotting grain or release it at low prices through the PDS.

Except Tamil Nadu, where each family is entitled for 20kg grain/Rs1/kg, no Indian state could claim for universalization of PDS. The success of the scheme in Tamil Nadu relies heavily on groundwork and such universal coverage deserves accolades for both practical and political reasons {S.Vydhianathan, R.K.Radhakrishnan, Behind the success story of Universal PDS in Tamil Nadu, The Hindu, August11, 2010}. In such stark scenario, proposal of Food Security Bill appeared as pleasant surprise but it couldn’t endure as National Advisory Council {NAC} recommendations badly lacked the universalization contents in food security. Initially, 150 most backward districts were suggested for disbursement of 35 kg rice or wheat at Rs3/kg, which seems completely unrealistic and discriminatory from humane point of view.
Here hunger and malnourishment are being measured more from the geographical status than rational socio-economic criteria. Without universalization, food security program have no valid reason to exert much differences in the current state of affairs. At that point government must think on ushering in food security program through pilot project routes, instead they must follow the much imperative Comprehensive Universal Programme that covers all basic requirements of human life without discriminating on the basis of any artificial criteria. Atleast for the staple diet, there should not be any bad politics…
Atul Kumar Thakur
August28th 2010, Saturday, New Delhi

1 comment:

  1. Very lucid and peretinent analysis..agreed,food security needs universal appearence,far away from categorisation drive...Ashutosh Thakur