It is unfortunate that while expressing the opinion that the “Supreme Court should not go into the realm of policy formulation,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did not consider it necessary to express a word of regret for the colossal wastage of precious foodgrains. Surely, Dr. Singh cannot claim that it is the government's policy to allow tonnes of grain to rot?
Coming from the representative of the people, Dr. Singh's remark is astonishing. One would have thought he was a bureaucrat.
Bindiya K. Nair,
The Court's directive to the government to distribute grain free or at low cost has, unfortunately, elicited a negative reaction from a renowned economist. Dr. Singh has failed to see the order on merit. With the government yet to fine-tune its Food Security Act, any form of wastage is disturbing. A question it needs to answer is: how soon will it ensure that foodgrains will not rot further?
Dr. Singh cannot be faulted for his remark. He has only expressed his view on how difficult it would be to distribute grain free to 37 per cent of the population. The debate appears to lose sight of the need to expand and upgrade grain storage facilities.
In India, people treat food with great respect. In Telugu, we say annam parabrahma swaroopam (‘food or grain is like god'). A farmer is called annadatha. Farmers need to be treated with respect. They do not understand terms such as FDI and GDP. The Prime Minister should explore ways to increase food production, build foolproof storage facilities, ensure a good supporting price for grain, and provide grain at affordable rates to the poor.
This can happen only in a democracy — procure grain with people's money, hold on to the stock, let a large part of it rot, and leave millions starving. The moral force of the Supreme Court directive should disturb the conscience of the rulers. They should not be the prophets of growth, which notoriously lacks a human conscience.