Eminent agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan termed the Union Budget for 20010-11 “disappointing” because it spread resources thin, instead of “dovetailing” allocations for different programmes so as to create a “better impact on the ground.”
Addressing members of the Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce here on Wednesday, Dr. Swaminathan said the Rs. 400 crore allocated for the extending the Green Revolution to eastern India is unlikely to have a significant impact.
Referring to the issue of food security in the context of inflation, Dr. Swaminathan said, “Accessibility to food has become difficult for the poor. Pulses have gone beyond their reach.” Referring to the argument that the spending on programmes such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), he said, “Those who are saying this do not see the reality of our country.”
Referring to the paradox of foodgrains rotting in godowns while people went hungry, Dr. Swaminathan said, “Poverty does not seem to stir our conscience.” Debunking the notion that Africa is poorer than India he said, “Twenty per cent of the world's undernourished are in India.” While 7 per cent of children in China are undernourished, in India it is 43 per cent. He pointed out that only 11 per cent of anganwadis in the country have access to clean drinking water and only 7 per cent of them have a toilet facility.
Referring to the budget's promise to establish mega food parks, cold storage chains and abattoirs, Dr. Swaminathan said the experience with food parks had not been good because the emphasis has only been on establishing processing centres, instead of focussing on sourcing raw materials. “Social methods of delivery, as is the case of milk procurement, ought to be used to reduce costs”. He suggested that Self-Help Groups be harnessed to reduce spoilage in the food sector.
Referring to the Bill on food security the Government plans to introduce soon, Dr. Swaminathan suggested the use of the concept of “common and differentiated entitlements” – akin to the Kyoto Protocol's concept of common but differentiated responsibility for global warming.