It is true that the Supreme Court should not go into the realm of policy formulation (“Order on free grain to poor can't be executed, says Manmohan Singh”, Sept. 7). But the government should have ensured that foodgrains did not rot. It is the duty of the government to create and maintain adequate storage facilities so that not a grain is wasted at a time when high inflation and rising prices have made the lives of people, especially those below the poverty line, miserable.
It may not be easy to implement the Court order in this case. But if wastage is inevitable due to poor storage facilities, distributing the foodgrains free of cost to the poor is a better option.
The Supreme Court's order to give away foodgrains supposedly rotting in warehouses to the poor is not only bad economics but also fraught with danger. Free food is not the same as free power, which is meant for productivity enhancement. But there is definitely a case for supplying foodgrains at cheaper prices. Also, reports of huge amounts of foodgrains rotting away are often exaggerated to cover the pilferage of good foodgrains.
K.M. Lakshmana Rao,
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement that the Supreme Court should not go into the realm of policy formulation is the voice of democracy. Judicial activism has become common and should be curtailed. In a democracy, people are supreme and Parliament represents the people.
Heading a country that is in the bottom pile of the Human Development Index, Dr. Singh is expected to speak with sensitivity on the subject. His call for more people to be taken out of agriculture betrays his government's dangerous orientation towards globalisation, which is least suited to our country.
Feeding the poor is not a matter of policy but of morality. The Supreme Court did not say the poor must be given free food forever. Letting millions of tonnes of foodgrains rot is surely not a way of encouraging farmers to grow more food.
The Prime Minister is right in saying the judiciary should not go into the realm of policy making, but the spirit of the Supreme Court order should be taken into consideration. The government has done nothing to strengthen the public distribution system. Instead of allowing the foodgrains to rot, they can be sent to ration shops and made available to the poor.
Karavadi Raghava Rao,
Can the Prime Minister's argument against providing free food for the poor, linking this to farmers being deprived of fair prices, not be termed as an attempt to deflect attention from actual facts? Is not the difference between fair prices for farmers and subsidised prices for the poor to be met by allocations in the budget? Why cannot this quantum be adjusted by tweaking the tax structure, which gives incentives running into thousands of crores to the rich? The Supreme Court should keep away from formulating policies. But is it not on the right side of justice when it talks about distributing for free foodgrains that the government is unable to prevent from rotting?
Instead of getting into a confrontation with the judiciary, the government should act on the proposed law on food security. Foodgrains should be distributed at subsidised rates and the Food Corporation of India must adopt modern technology in grain storage.
The Court only pointed a finger at the government's failure to act — and rightly so — on a matter of utmost priority, namely, the wasting of the direly needed food commodity.
A.V. Reddi Sastri,
If people should be taken out of agriculture, as Dr. Singh says, what should people of rural India do? Migrate to cities only to be ousted from there with disrespect? What we need is another Green Revolution. Industrialisation is good but not at the cost of agriculture.
It is unfortunate that the Centre that can afford a 300 per cent hike in the salary of MPs cannot implement the Supreme Court's order to distribute foodgrains that would otherwise rot to the poor.
A. Antony Eachail,