(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
September 12, 2010
Wither Such Double-Talk
HAVING spoken only on the civil nuclear liability bill in the just concluded monsoon session of the parliament, the prime minister, in an interaction with a group of senior editors, spoke on a wide range of issues, apart from this bill. What concerns us here are his remarks related to the food security of our people.
The prime minister virtually admonished the Supreme Court’s observations regarding foodgrains rotting due to lack of storage space by saying that the apex court “should not get into policy formulation”. The apex court had recently observed, “It is time that we develop a culture of zero tolerance towards corruption so as to ensure two square meals for the hungry and the poor. What will be the choice of the government – allow foodgrains to rot or give it free to the poor and hungry. The choice is obvious.” (Emphasis added). The prime minister strongly argued against such an idea saying that it would kill the farmer’s incentive to produce, thus, creating a different set of problems.
This is a very tenuous argument. The issue here is about distribution of foodgrains already procured by the government. The incentive to the farmer lies in the guaranteed minimum support price at which the government procures. Once the farmer sells his produce, the manner in which the government disposes that produce is not an issue that concerns or influences the farmers’ productive capacities. As long as the government procures, there is no disincentive for the farmers. This argument, thus, holds no water.
As far as the food security act is concerned, the government, in an affidavit submitted before the apex court, said that it was actively considering the matter and would finalise after taking the suggestions of the national advisory council into account. The issue of a legal enforcement of the right to food has been going on since April 2001 before the Supreme Court. This right to food case, as it is popularly known, generated such empathy that the president’s address to the first joint session of the parliament, under UPA-II government, mentioned, “My government proposes to enact a new law – the national food security act – that will provide a statutory basis for a framework which assures food security for all”. Sixteen months down the line, this assurance is still eluding the country and the people.
Given the prime minister’s
it is clear that the effective and meaningful implementation of food
if ever it comes about, will take a long time.
However, the urgency cannot but be underlined.
Way back in 2003 January, the National Human
Rights Commission had commented that, “There is a fundamental right to
An effective food security
can only come about through a universal public distribution system that
the availability of foodgrains at affordable rates for the most hungry. While the NAC is reportedly discussing this
issue, the prime minister’s observation clearly indicates that like the
While this is how this
government perpetuates the widening gulf between the `shining’ and
India, the Congress party’s high profile general secretary has recently
the Left Front government in West Bengal of
taking the state backwards and perpetuating poverty. One can understand such campaigns at the time
of elections. But, even these have to be
based on facts and realities. Some parts
The bulk of
West Bengal is the third
intensely agricultural state in
The three tier system of
democratically elected bodies established by the Left Front in
This is the hard reality
who mouth concerns of two
Given these hard facts, we
that our political detractors challenge us on the basis of such hard
not through a barrage of allegations and disinformation.
In the meanwhile, the Congress-led UPA could
well redeem its own pledge of putting an end to the perpetuation of two
(September 8, 2010)