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Friday, November 26, 2010

GOVERNMENT SAYS NO TO THE NEEDS OF THE STARVING PEOPLE

Technological development has not lessened the importance of people as the valuable resource of any country. India is no exception to it. They produce grains, work in factories and provide essential services to the society. Therefore, they are asset, not liability. It is the duty of our government that the poor people are given adequate food to support themselves. However, the government is busy giving concession in crores to the rich and corporate sectors. It has no concrete policy to check scam in different departments occurring time to time. In the last two decades, grains per capita consumption has gone down rapidly. In 2008, it has fallen to 156 Kg due to export and policy of stocks. It is expected that food intake will further go down in 2010 because the government's reluctance to distribute grains amongst the deserving poor.

Intellectuals, economists receiving heavy salary and other considerations from the government and policy-makers do not want to remove artificial barriers like 'below' and 'above' poverty line. They should realize the fact that hunger is increasing day by day.
 'Below' poverty line people from vulnerable community, old, infirm men and women, children, adolescent girls, destitute suffer from insecurity of food grains. Most of them are living on the verge of starvation.

The insensitive middle class feels that there is no poor people in the society. They also have a feeling that " poverty" and "poor" "starvation" are created by some NGOs and individuals who have vested interests and the Supreme Court also sides with them. The policy makers coming from this class want cut in budget for poor people. It is understood by them that poor eat better food- milk, egg, meat etc and cereals. This is absolutely wrong concept.

The government boasts of huge record production of grains-- 235 million tonnes in 2008-09. FCI and other state agencies have the capacity to store not even half of the quantity. So, nearly 176.83 lakh MTs of food grain is rottening in the open across the country. More than 50,000 MTs  have been destroyed by flood in Punjab. 31, 574 MTs of food grains procured in 2008-09 and 18.90 lakh MTs of food grains in 2009-10 by Harayana Government are kept in godowns.

Experts have the opinion that millions of tons of grain rotting in open yards can earn foreign exchange for India considering the high prices of grain in the global market.

Grains are also lost to rodents. According to Dr Parpia, renound food scientists and Director of Central Food Technological Research Institute H.A.B Parpia said in an interview to the Hindu "six rats eat food grains of one man and that an average rat in the country is nutritionally healthier than an average Indian"

What is the use of rotten grains? Who will buy the rotten grain? Even grains in best conditions are not good for consumption according to the food standard prevailing abroad. Then it is likely that the government will sell them at very low price in the open market in the country which had happened earlier. Traders in their turn will export as feed for European cattle. But the most judicious use of rotten grain will be to convert it into bio-fertilizer. Sell it to farmers below the price of chemical fertilizer. This will increase the fertility of agricultural land.

In market-oriented economy there is no charity as such. there is no free goods for anyone, whether poor or rich. However, rich are given heavy concession in terms of tax benefits. It is beyond doubt that in the present budget, 500,000 were given to corporate sectors as concession. Scams are also, part of free bies because there is no law to check them. Rs 900 crores lost in the scam in animal husbandry scam, in Bihar, scam in mining in Karnataka, 2000 crore lost in scam in Jharkhand, 60,000 crores lost in spectrum scam and so on.

Other developing nations- China, Brazil, Venezuela are increasing purchasing power of their population. Per capita consumption of cereals and animal product is rising substantially in these countries. However, in India per capita income is rising but it is not enough to meet the rising prices of grains and animal products. Why this is so ? This has resulted from inequitable nature of growth and distribution of wealth, income. The number of unemployed people has gone up and intake of cereal and animal products has drastically gone down in the last decade in the whole country. No wonder average energy and protein intake have also fallen. People are forced to cut into cereal intake let alone diversifying of diets.                   

The Prime Minister says that free distribution of grains will be injustice to the farmers. This saying implies that all farmers are very rich. So they do not need grains. He should know the fact that the small and marginalized sell their crops to meet their basic needs. The money hardly meets the needs of six months of a farmer. Rest of the year he is dependent on loan from local Mahajans or help from relatives.

The government should take some bold measures to tackle poverty and to save poor from starvation. Firstly, PDS should be made universal. Artificial line like 'Below Poverty Line' and 'Above Poverty Line' should be abolished. Purchasing power should be increased through effective implementation of  Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and establishment of  Small-Scale agro based industries at Panchayat level. Products of such industries should be marketed by government agencies ( MGNREGA) like scheme should be introduced in Urban areas because poor from villages are thronging to towns and cities in search of livelihood. It can be used in beautification of cities, making storage facilities for food grains.

Stop export of grains while millions of people sleep hungry. Hungry people who votes so merrily while the government makes policies for middle class and upper middle class. When the government will implement directive principles in letter and spirit? However, people of India, expects more from the supreme court as far as the security of food for poor people is concerned.

Working group on agricultural production set up by the Prime Minister and chaired by Haryana Chief Minister, B.S Hooda recommends that Indian companies should be encouraged to buy or hire land in Africa to grow pulses, edible oil seeds and food grains. Its report says "We should seriously consider these options for at least two million tons of pulses and five million tons of edible oil for fifteen-twenty years. It further says Indian companies can be encouraged to buy lands in countries like Canada, Myanmar, Australia and Argentina for producing pulses under long term supply contracts to canalizing agencies". Undoubtedly, the government will support such companies to buy land and grow grain in other countries. It is very likely that these countries will destroy the fertility of land in the course of extracting grains as much as possible. The locals will also get restless. This is really cheating on poor human beings.

The government should end starvation, inequality, poverty. If it is not possible it should abolish "Socialism" from the preamble of the constitution and the Directive Principles of State Policy. These principles though are not enforceable, they are "fundamental in the governance of the country and it shall be the duty of the state to apply these principles in making laws". Since the government has not followed, is not following these principles, what is the use of keeping in the constitution?    

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