On the one hand in India we have thousands of tonnes of food grains rotting in the government granaries due to lack of space to store it, millions of rodents making a feast over it, lack of quality in available storage facilities, due to administrative inefficiency and ministerial unwillingness to preserve and distribute the so hard grown crop by thousands of hard working farmers.
On the other hand in India we have millions of poor people in the country who are finding it difficult to get even one meal a day thanks to the rising prices and inflation in the country.
What does common sense say? Instead of having these food grains rot and get destroyed, there by taking in vain the efforts of all those farmers who have taken all the pain to grow these food crops, for god’s sake get in a quick mechanism to distribute these food grains freely to all those millions of poor people in the country. The currently rotting food grains can feed 20 million people for over a year! And this is exactly what the Supreme Court of India asked the government to do, when people complained to the honorable court alleging that either the government did not have any common sense OR the government simply did not care about the rotting grains as it was a not related to any vote bank politics.
And what was the response of our Agricultural Minister Sharad Pawar to this Supreme Court directive? Remember it was the same Sharad Pawar’s policies that were largely responsible for Sugar prices sky rocketing earlier this year and contributed significantly to the rise in prices and inflation. And this time it was no better for this agricultural minister who is more interested in the money involved in Cricket and in ICC than in farming and agriculture and crops. Mr Pawar said that Supreme Court had merely suggested to distribute food grains for free and it could not be implemented!
An irritated Supreme Court again made it clear to the government that is was NOT a mere suggestion but an ORDER to distribute the food grains for free if the government cannot preserve it. Isn’t it better to give it away to the poor instead of allowing thousands of tonnes of food crops to rot in the godowns of the Food Corporation of India? Infact, if one had seen the news report, much of the food grains had been stored(?) in open fields(!!) giving a good time to rodents and at the same accelerating the rotting.
And now we have our honorable Prime Minister Mr.Manmohan Singh who has intervened singing the same old tune of Pawar that food grains cannot be distributed for free and what’s more, Mr. Prime Minister is now saying that Supreme Court should not intervene in policy making of the Government.
Mr Prime Minister, first of all the food grains are not government’s proprietary property. The millions of farmers of this country have sweat it out in the hot Sun to grow these crops to feed the people of this country. And the Government of India is not some private multi national corporation whose primary task is to create business or policy decisions, its primary task it the welfare and well being of the citizens of the country. Government is people’s servant not the other way round.
What policy decision are you talking about Mr Prime Minister?
Buying food grains when you did not have adequate storage space to store it was a great policy decision is it?
Never ever inspecting the stored food grains till the media revealed that they were rotting was a great policy decision is it?
Not having long term food storage plan for the past 10 years was a great policy decision is it?
Storing the food grains in open was a great policy decision is it?
And now denying to distribute them and instead preferring to allow them to rot more and get destroyed, is this a great policy decision?
And for your kind information Mr Prime Minister, Supreme Court of India is a constitutional authority whose primary task is to oversee that the government and bureaucracy are acting in the interests of the nation and to alert them when they deviate from their duties. And it is common sense to give what I have to the needy instead of allowing it to get destroyed.
I would like to remind the prime minister about Mahatma Gandhiji’s words here, “Having what you do not need is the same as stealing it“.
The Prime Minister says that “I do recognise that food should be available to the people below poverty line at concessional prices“.
Well, if you do not give them away now before they rot out completely, forget concessional prices, even if you give it for free later when they rot out completely nobody would be willing to take it.
Then the Prime Minister says that, “We have not allowed any increase in the issue price of foodgrains to people below poverty line since 2004“.
For one thing Mr Prime Minister, the entire country knows about the rampant corruption prevailing in the food distribution system in this country and the quality of food grains distributed under this system to below poverty line people. What the Supreme Court is talking about here is NOT about the price rise or about what government has achieved since 2004, but about what government is unable to achieve now by allowing food grains to rot and go waste without serving the intended purpose of producing them. Already thousands of tonnes have gone for a toss. For God’s sake distribute it to the poor if you cannot preserve it. You should not have purchased them from the farmers in the first place if you did not have the mechanism to store, preserve and distribute it properly. That was a Bad policy decision in the first place. And the biggest mistake since 2004 is that the government has not created adequate storage capacity of the required quality to store the country’s produce. So please talk about the failures also when you talk about the achievements.
And this one is hilarious! Our honorable Prime Minister says that “making food available free would destroy incentives to farmers to produce more“. Howz that Mr. Prime Minister? I am sure that our farmers have a greater common sense than the government and they would be more than happy to give away their crop for free to the needy rather than having them rot in the godowns feeding rodents.
And the farmers are not growing crops for the sake of incentives, so please let us not insult their service to the nation. Producing enough food crops to feed more than one sixth of humanity is not possible by mere incentives, and if that was the case then they would have sold their crops to multinationals for higher prices and would have grown commercially more viable crops instead of paddy and wheat.
The country knows about the great incentives given to the farmers having read in the newspapers about hundreds of them commit suicide every year without being able to overcome their debts.
The main problem with our governments is that most of the ruling class is corrupt and are more focused on milking money than the welfare of the people, and the very few like our Prime Minister who is one of those rare Mr Clean personalities have lost all touch with the ground realities of the nation. Aam Aadmi has only remained a slogan of the Congress, just like how Indira Gandhi came to power with Gadibi Hatao slogan and today even during her grandson’s time poverty still remains in the country. Mere sloganeering will not take the country anywhere. We have reasonable expectations form the Prime Minister and expect him to stop talking the language of a seasonal politician.
Let us hope that sense prevails and all the hard work of our farmers does not go a waste due to government mismanagement and bureaucratic inefficiency. As the current saying goes,
“China is what it is today because of its government, and India is what it is today INSPITE of its government.”