It was Tamil bard and freedom fighter Subramania Bharati who once said: “If even a single individual starves without food, we will destroy the entire world.” Thus, the food bill is a laudable achievement in tune with his vision.
There could be loopholes here and there. Amendments, if any, as suggested by right thinking people or the Opposition should be incorporated wherever necessary to make the system wholesome.
It is a life security bill for the aam aadmi, bringing a ray of hope to poor people. They can now lead a dignified life.
This is a landmark legislation unparalleled even in the developed world. The UPA chairperson deserves credit; more so her spirited speech in Parliament on the vision behind it.
Maj. R. Murugaiyan,
The fact is that agriculture will receive a much-needed boost. It will be interesting to see how modern industrial India with its hunger for land, balances fresh agrarian interest in the use of prime holdings. Will we see conflict again? It also needs to be seen whether new food technologies will be given the green signal.
With an expenditure of Rs.1.25 lakh crore a year, who will foot the bill? The economy is in the doldrums, with the rupee in virtual free fall. In this situation, is incurring such a huge burden necessary? States like Tamil Nadu and Kerala already have a good PDS. About 40 per cent of the population here will be out of this system once the Bill becomes law. The Bill is just a political gimmick by the scam-ridden UPA government with an eye on 2014.
India would require 70-80 million tonnes of more foodgrain every year. Thus, the trade deficit will soar manifold since the government will have to import grain large scale as our production would be inadequate.
In the current PDS, just 51 per cent of food is delivered to the poor with the remainder lost to leakages and open market sale at a higher price. In a nutshell, the bill is just a gimmick, where the state of weltschmerz is what follows it.
It would be prudent if the Bill is debated and discussed in detail by impartial economic experts to make it pragmatic and implementable at a suitable time after nursing the economy back to health. Wisdom needs to prevail over populism.
The passage of the Food Security Bill is redolent of the welfare state that was implemented in England. It fuelled the decline of the economy that was already in a shambles after the war. The enforcement will lead to a further depreciation of the rupee. It will also make people lazy and unaccountable. We, as a nation, should learn from the mistakes committed in history to avoid such a state in India.
That the bill would wipe out hunger and malnutrition is a far-fetched promise that has politics written all over it. Eliminating malnutrition among adults and children, many of whom are stunted, requires more than providing rice or wheat or coarse cereals at cheap prices. There must be a holistic package — grams, pulses, vegetables, clean water and a hygienic environment to assimilate the necessary nutrients.
When the government became tough to counter the misuse of the subsidised LPG cylinder by the beneficiary, an Aadhar-linked bank account was made mandatory to deposit the subsidy amount. Surprisingly, in the case of the food bill, the government insists that the State governments open additional storage facilities for effective implementation of subsidised foodgrains to 67 per cent of the population. What guarantee is there that grain will not rot in bulk in State-administered godowns? Why not again think of transferring a food subsidy amount to the eligible account holders?
If the past is a prediction of the future, then progressive measures such as food security will be subject to the vagaries of economic winds and the first to face the budget hatchet. Moreover, the reaction of India Inc. has been far from encouraging. Their claim that this will add to the budget deficit is shortsighted and unjustified. Study after study has shown that a hungry and underfed nation is also unproductive. It is imperative that influential groups like India Inc. cease these negative reactions and come together for the common good of this nation.
More than three years ago, a government committee headed by Prof. Arjit Sengupta pointed that more than 84 per cent of the population did not earn even half a dollar a day, a picture of the poverty prevalent in our country. It is unfortunate that even 67 years after independence, our people have to look for support in the form of food security. We need to revive our economic policies as Rs.1.25 lakh crore will impact growth projections.
K.M. Lakshmana Rao,