Rakesh Iyer provides a critical take on the UPA government's food policy. He takes issue with the government's decision to restrict food security to BPL families alone in the National Food Security Bill (NFSB).
Yesterday, the Times of India published a story on its front page titled Food Security Act may Raise Prices Globally. This story argues that with the enactment of the Food Security Act, in the event of a drought, India will have to import food from the global market, which will lead to an increase in global food prices. This line of argument is absolutely wrong and only shows the total lack of basic economics knowledge that these reporters have.
A survey of the PDS in nine states has recently been completed and the results are quite interesting, pointing to an impressive turnaround of the PDS in all surveyed states, except Bihar. The forty investigators who conducted the survey have written a letter to the Prime Minister regarding the PDS/cash transfers in the context of the Food Security Act.
The case of the Food Security Bill gets curiouser and curiouser. What started off as a fight between universalization and targeting has ended (or so it would seem) in a complete victory in the National Advisory Council, Government of India (NAC) for targeting through universalization (if such a thing was possible), with the honourable exception of Prof Jean Dreze, who has to be commended for his ‘note of disagreement’. On 30th August, 2010, the Working Group of the NAC had recommended ‘universalization with differentiated entitlements’, dividing the poor into two categories, 42% in ‘antyodaya’ and the rest in ‘aam’. They found the best way to kill a Bill; make it so complicated that it is completely unworkable in practice.
It is surprising that the NAC-recommended press release does not reflect any spirit of the strong social-political action behind the mobilisations around the food security issue since last few years. More distressing is to hear such discussions when the country has been witnessing high inflation fuelled by higher levels of food inflation. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the fears of the proposed FSA turning into a sham and, in turn, only used as a rhetorical cover against the opposition has almost come true.
The UPA’s promise to ensure adequate availability of food articles in the country for assured food security to all Indian citizens through the deliberations of the NAC is fraught with a series of exclusions. It excludes all APL households or roughly 73% of the people in 75% of the country from its coverage on the basis of the dubious and discredited Planning Commission estimates, writes Simta Gupta.
Arindam Banerjee writes on the phenomenon of Biofuels - generated from grains that could otherwise serve as food.
An article towards understanding the political-ideological roots of the GM controversy in Indian agriculture with special reference to Marxist theory and practice, is attached with this post (in PDF format). The essay begins with setting the context of the currently raging debate on BT-Brinjal and reviewing a select set of empirical assessments of BT-Cotton in India on relevant parameters. It then moves to critically examine the role of ideology in how competing political forces comprehend the food and nutrition crisis in India.
The proposed Food Security Act is flawed. The PDS should be made universal, as it was prior to the targeted system introduced in the 1990s as part of the neo-liberal agenda.,writes Brinda Karat.
Surely the elimination of hunger should be a top national priority. Boasts of high economic growth rates matter little when such a pattern of growth is accompanied by an alarming growth in hunger says Brinda Karat