Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement that the Supreme Court's order on giving free foodgrains to the poor cannot be implemented is insensitive. The argument that it is not possible to distribute food free to 37 per cent of the population may be correct from an economist's point of view, but it is not expected from a leader whose prime task is to ensure the alleviation of poverty.
Is it the government's case that extending unwarranted concessions to the rich — very few in number — is justified but the poor, who are too many, cannot be helped?
Why the government is reluctant to comply with the Court order is beyond the comprehension of the common man. The order was made on humanitarian grounds, as an emergency and ad hoc measure. It is insensitive to talk about judicial interference in policy matters and productivity theories.
The time has come to think about privatising the procurement, storage and distribution of grain under foolproof guidelines. The most vital social sectors, like higher education and health, have already been privatised. Why not a purely economic operation?
Rameeza A. Rasheed,
The Supreme Court has been criticised for going into the realm of policy formulation and the poor have been insinuated as if they demanded free grain. Would it be incorrect to say the government exists not for the aam aadmi but for the rich, whose lives it is committed to making more comfortable?
Coming from a renowned economist, the statement is regrettable. If the government cannot distribute grain, who else will? If it does not have the capacity to store foodgrains, the government should not procure more than what it can store.