Why Food Security Bill makes parties insecure

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The Centre’s food security ordinance passed hurriedly recently, and the Karnataka government’s Anna Bhagya scheme launched last week, have, in their own ways, provoked a fierce political reaction that is beyond bizarre.

While non-Congress governments and parties are understandably apprehensive that the Congress-led UPA might be rolling out a “game-changer” ahead of the elections, others see in the Centre’s move, an attempt to infringe upon state’s powers.

Other critics see trademark signs of profligacy at a time when the fiscal deficit is soaring although many of them seemingly have no problem if rich corporates and business houses get way-bigger incentives and write-offs.

As Melwyn Pinto writes at The Hoot:

Any populist measures of the government, especially those benefitting the poor, are looked at suspiciously by a section of the media. It does not matter if poor people rightly deserve such benefits from schemes as they have only the government to come to their aid. However, why should any help done to the distressed be seen only as a means to win elections? Isn’t it the government’s moral responsibility to side with the poor and work for their welfare?

Be that as it may, lost in the back and forth is the moral argument. The fact is there are millions of Indians going hungry. The fact is millions of tonnes of food grains go waste. And the fact is, regardless of what it costs, no civilised country can shut its eye to either.

As this picture of women queueing up to pick up their allocation of 30 kilos of rice at one rupee a kilo, at a fair price shop in the supposedly prosperous, post-liberalised “IT” city of Bangalore—in J.P. Nagar 2nd stage no less—demonstrates, parties and governments have much to be afraid of if the hunger pangs of large numbers of people who vote with their feet are suddenly sated.

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27 Responses to “Why Food Security Bill makes parties insecure”

  1. templecity Says:

    why do you suck so much.pathetic.

  2. Kavi Says:

    “As this picture of women queueing up to pick up their allocation of 30 kilos of rice at one rupee a kilo, at a fair price shop in the supposedly prosperous, post-liberalised “IT” city of Bangalore—in J.P. Nagar 2nd stage no less—demonstrates, parties and governments have much to be afraid of if the hunger pangs of large numbers of people who vote with their feet are suddenly sated”

    It just demonstrates the depth this country has sunk into, thanks to the decades of corrupt central and state governments in independent India.. It vividly shows that India has a very very long way to go before it can join the pantheon of developed nations (despite the meaningless utterance of one deluded ex-president ) when the country is adding relentlessly the population of one Australia every year creating yet more mouths to feed

    The claim of “IT City Bangalore” rings very hollow indeed, when you see these masses of people queuing to buy an essential food item in the real space (not in the vacuous IT cyberspace) for their survival in the very city where the bosses of IT coolies sitting in their glitzy glass carbuncle do not want to comprehend what this really means in the wider world context, whilst they are busily stuffing their pockets with Dollars.

    The sending of GPS satellite, the ambitious moon-landing programme etc.. sound so hollow when in this very earth down below in the country concerned we see such a sight of humans queuing for their basic need.

  3. Kajori Says:

    The fundamental problem with India is corruption and mal-nutrition! Not hunger, for heaven’s sake. Giving grain to a whopping 66% of Indians when only 1% are hungry and on record, is not only insane but going to create the biggest scam in India! In an economy that is now swiftly sliding into deep, dark pit.

    According to Unicef: There are 61 million children chronically undernourished, and 8 million children suffering from severe acute malnutrition in India. Therefore, the focus needs to be on the right to adequate nutrition, beyond the right to food”
    “Under nutrition jeopardises children’s survival, health, growth and development, and it slows national progress towards development goals,”

    The food security bill will make the ‘Pappu’ led Cong-I government: The biggest buyer, hoarder and seller of food grains! No wonder many fear the bill will intensify already acute corruption in every facet of our daily life. Just imagine the mega scam that will multiply on its own, in identification of beneficiaries, setting of criteria, procurement, distribution, storage, a leakage proof mechanism…so many!

    Regretfully, while the so-called opposition parties (whose corrupt and shameless leaders continue to support the Govt in order to keep the CBI aloof) are fighting each other, the Congress-led UPA hurriedly rushed through the bill just because of the desperate need for some last minute magic to win against all odds, the upcoming elections! Sadly, as the days pass, with every one in every other party, ganging-up against Narendra Modi and the Jinnah-psyche Advani finally silenced, it is most obvious that the really efficient, popular Gujarat CM will propel himself automatically to the PM post.

    Wish the people are aware of some key facts:

    • The fiscal deficit is out of control. The Rupee is the now the worst performing currency!
    • India is now officially #134 in the world for doing business
    • Investors would prefer to invest elsewhere, even Africa or China!
    • The Indian rupee has seen 12% depreciation against the US dollar in just the last 3 weeks!
    • FDI rule for retail is so biased for MNC’s yet hardly any significant investments
    • The “windfall gain” in the Coal Scam was a awesome 10,67,303.00 crores!
    • The amount involved in the 2G spectrum scan was another record-breaking US$ 5.3 billion!
    • FDI in aviation is nothing but the UPA cartel and Aviation minister’s personal kick-backs story
    • Industrial production already in a slump and now industries hit by the extremely weak Rupee are cutting-back on production. And more importantly jobs!
    • With weekly raise in fuel prices, vicious inflation will hit the roof, economy completely out of control!

    Yet, in the midst of such an extraordinary crisis, the Cong-I is focussed on publicity stunts, scams, parivarthan ads, major concessions to big corporate donors, kick-backs, sell-out of core infrastructure and national resources, mismanagement of a flawed public food distribution system, misplaced priorities, reservations and exclusions..etc.

    The current PM and renowned economist’s biggest accomplishment? An economy reeling under a record current account deficit amidst the biggest corruption scams after our Independence….

    Well, Just imagine Rahul Gandhi as a Prime Ministerial candidate!
    Hai Ram.

  4. tkb1936rlys Says:

    dear Pinto, saw your sympathetic note on food security bill. I presume you pay your taxes,pay your servants min, wage,weekly holiday,Pf and reimburse medical bills. NMore people like you are the need of the hour. May your tribe increse and your good work continue. Bala

  5. dr ramesh Says:

    Food security bill is seen as a game changer for UPA, it is the final, most potent poll strategy that Congress have unleashed now.
    Burden on exchequer will be huge, it may lead to food inflation that would be very difficult to control, experts feel in case of poor monsoon, import of cereals may lead to drastic chages in international food market.
    But inspite of many negatives, FOOD SECURITY BILL HAS BROUGHT THE SPOT LIGHT ON FOOD, AGRICULTURE, amidst SEZ, SOFTWARE, HARDWARE, MINING, LAND ACQUISITION MANIA, economists got carried away and had forgotton that ultimately a person has to eat to survive and for that agriculture and cultivable land is vital.
    MNREG, FOOD SECURITY BILL— 2 biggest social welfare schemes in the world were launched by UPA, they can pat their backs for that.

  6. Annu Dalal Says:

    • Manufacturing in all Auto factories in Pune, Gurgoan, Ludhiana and Srirumpedur is now at 25% of the capacity! And that of the ancillary units is only 10%. This has already created major retrenchments, layoffs..etc and workers are now desperate for any job.
    • All the big Software firms, Corporate and Banks now have an ‘unofficial’ freeze on new hires
    • A bankrupt treasury
    • Airlines are desperately trying to stay afloat while all other infrastructure services are running at major losses
    • Record-breaking corruption even in judiciary, mega-scams, crazy inflation, physical infrastructure problems, spiraling commodity prices, weekly increases in fuel, vegetables and food, sliding rupee, skill shortages, lack of basic health facilities, red tape, procedural complexities, and inadequate commercial bank credit, unemployment …the list is endless.

    The UPA & Cong-I’s solution?

    A Food Security Bill (which is a mere election-oriented announcement) and now another stunt, the 100% FDI sell-out of all key sectors!

    Well, before we have panic, another Ireland and Spain combo in our country and possibly a run on the banks, it is high-time, Pappu and his Mom, come out of their glass houses and face the national media, I mean, at least once in 2-3 years!

    Instead of their crooked, corrupt and so-called secular cronies, jumping up and down, shamelessly screaming at every single public speech or tweet of Modi!

  7. the colonel Says:

    come on guys , who’s in control, manmohan or sonia.

    poor chiddu is struggling to obey orders.

    and that leaves us where, in the potholes……………….

  8. asha Says:

    Between NREGA and FSB…the common man has no incentive to work any more…but the treasury will soon be emptied by this lunatic schemes

  9. Doddi Buddi Says:

    Thank you Dr. Ramesh. As always you have been inspiring with your pronouncements. Just a question: what other game-changing strategies can you think of that UPA could use to win the upcoming elections, Sir?

  10. M Says:

    Just for record. Most West countires which swear by Capitalism also have food security measures.

    USA has ‘food stamps’. UK pays unemployed and retired people minimum cash support every week. There are similar such arrangements in other European nations.

    Scho

  11. Anonymous Guy Says:

    The food security bill could be a game changer. If it can be implemented with our ramshackle infrastructure (big if). The effects would be far-reaching, and beneficial in the long term for the whole country. Whether this ordinance was passed for purely political reasons (likely) or a benevolent vision does not matter.

    The RSS needs some strategy besides social media internet campaigns and the like. The hungry dont care much about corruption and such problems which bother the middle class. One needs to have nutrition to be bothered by such things.

  12. Anonymous Guy Says:

    M,
    Not to mention the strong agricultural subsidies which exist in the staunchly capitalist nations:
    For example: … the irony that in developed countries agriculture is a very small share of the economy and employment (2% or less) – particularly compared to the poorest countries (35% on average) –yet subsidies and other supports are highest for the sector, “skewing the benefits of agricultural trade in their favor” (Watkins and Von Braun 2002, p. 2). **

    Food security and agricultural subsidies are one of the basic building block of advanced nations. If food security is taken away from these countries, the poor would revolt and make sure everyone suffers. The people who are in power know that and make sure it is a one of the highest priorities in their social contract.

    It is such a basic thing in the advanced nations, it is barely mentioned, since it is more or less a solved problem. Only after food security comes education, capitalism, following the laws, honesty (aka fighting ‘corruption’) etc.

    **The paradox of agricultural subsidies

  13. Deepak Says:

    We have already seen what free food has done to children in Bihar FSB food will probably do the same to the poor in rest of the country. Garibi Hatao will be replaced soon by Garib Ko Hatao.

  14. harkol Says:

    Anonymous Guy: FSB can indeed be game changer, if only India can fund this and other ‘handout’ schemes. Not being able to fund it will result in huge inflation, thus reducing the overall welfare of all people.

    That’d result in typical ‘indian crab’ situation. Pulling down someone who is climbing out of morass, instead of pulling up those who are down.

    The right method to ensure food security is this – Ensure opportunities increase by massive infrastructure creation, opening up manufacturing and other productive sectors for creating employment.

    In Kannada we have a saying – Koothu Thindavage Kudike Honnu Saladu. If you try to feed 65% of India, with 4% tax payer money, then it’ll only end up ruining the economy. And in the end not even having funds to sustain FSB.

    India had its dalliance with socialism/communism during Indira-Rajiv era, and we ended up pledging gold in 1991. THis time we’ll have to perhaps pledge our undies too.

  15. Vinay Says:

    People who speak of the FSB reducing “hunger” don’t know what they are talking about. There are some people who are the archetypical ‘house nigger’ and have their head buried in their ass when it comes to issues related to India.

    The point is this: India is a food-surplus nation. No matter how deep one’s tongue is in white ass, one needs to understand that India today, is not the India of the 1950s and 1960s with famines and massive food shortage. There is enough food and grain. So, where is the problem?

    The problem is in food distribution and the food supply chain. That is where the issue lies. Every year at least once, there is a front-page headline about food rotting in storage godowns, severe shortage of storage space, food being stored in the open, eaten by rodents, etc.

    This is what the goddamn FSB is trying to do again, by a different name. Is it so difficult to see that? For decades, we have tried our hand at the government making cheap food available to the masses. People still don’t want to learn! They want to try more of the same thing.

    Dr. Ramesh: The UPA is cretinous. These schemes are just propagating the same old schemes and same old failed policies that we’ve been seeing for decades.

  16. Doddi Buddi Says:

    Vinay excellent points! But you have no right to crash Dr. Ramesh’s sloganeering dreams!

  17. Rahul Mirchi Says:

    The entire body politic is cretinous- all over the world with stale ideas being recirculated all the time. It is individuals both in the State as well as in individual capacities that make changes.

  18. Goldstar Says:

    After 66 years of Independence, we have officially declared that 66% percent of our population as poor and in need of dole outs.

    And the solution we have is the same that has been there all these decades. They should have just named this as Indira Gandhi Garibi Hatao Yojana – II.

  19. Anonymous Guy Says:

    M,
    Not to mention the strong agricultural subsidies which exist in the staunchly capitalist nations:
    For example: … the irony that in developed countries agriculture is a very small share of the economy and employment (2% or less) – particularly compared to the poorest countries (35% on average) –yet subsidies and other supports are highest for the sector, “skewing the benefits of agricultural trade in their favor” (Watkins and Von Braun 2002, p. 2). **

    Food security and agricultural subsidies are one of the basic building block of advanced nations. If food security is taken away from these countries, the poor would revolt and make sure everyone suffers. The people who are in power know that and make sure it is a one of the highest priorities in their social contract.

    It is such a basic thing in the advanced nations, it is barely mentioned, since it is more or less a solved problem. Only after food security comes education, capitalism, following the laws, honesty (aka fighting ‘corruption’) etc.

    **The paradox of agricultural subsidies

  20. Manava Says:

    Yes, this country used to be food-surplus nation decades ago when the population was 30% of what it is today. Hence, even if the issues of distribution are addressed to a satisfactory level, unless the crushing demand eases, cannot see how the surplus situation could arise again.

  21. Vijay Says:

    India may have the youngest population but it also has the least skilled population. Its becoming a norm that indian youth are not employable in skill based industry, but are restricted to service based industry. These are not good signs. An industry growth curve always moves from service to innovation to leadership sectors. We are stuck in services and seem to continue to …… Not healthy for a developing country. And policies like NAREGA and FSB will only further the stagnation.

  22. Kavi Says:

    The problem with India and its corrupt officialdom is , even if the food subsidies are given to a level much higher than one can see in other countries, most of the subsidies will be diverted by the agricultural officialdom as their baksheesh for ” allowing” the farmers to cultivate.-these days, these officials expect US Dollars in paper bags, not the useless Rupees, according to one who said to me when asked about what he wants to “allow” the movement of papers for a license to my relative who is a farmer. No one also mentions the crushing demand the galloping rise of population presents. It is a myth, given the situation of corruption and growing demand to say food subsidies solve the problems that a country with 1.2 billion( and counting) mouths present. Address the presence of the elephant in the room -corruption at all levels in the agricultural sector, before throwing money at the sector.

  23. Gokulam 3rd Stage Says:

    Taking the “moral” argument route is lazy at best. Most opposition to such welfare schemes is because there is usually no money to pay for it. We keep increasing the burden on the tax payers and keep digging the deficit hole.

    Based on this logic, the Congress should win every election, everywhere in the country for the sheer number of welfare programs they have initiated over the last 70 years.

    And just for the fun of it – pointing out some fallacies in the commentary on the photo.

    1. JP Nagara is “prosperous” therefore everyone living in that area is prosperous
    2. Therefore people living in JP Nagara have no need to buy from a fair price shop
    3. Prosperous people do not take advantage of bargains like 30 kg of rice for Rs.30
    4. Only non-prosperous people buy from a fair price shop
    5. Only non-prosperous people are able to obtain a ration card
    6. The ration shop system is highly successful at keeping out prosperous people from exploiting its low prices

    And so on….

  24. Anonymous Guy Says:

    Kavi, The corruption you are talking about is a disease endemic to India. It is not specific to officialdom. There is no known cure for it. Even with our ramshackle bureaucracy, the food security bill will be an overall positive, just like subsidies in the agricultural sector have been. The alternative is starvation and death in much bigger proportions than we have ever seen.
    And, it is unlikely that Americans are going to help out again with a green revolution.
    The marwaris or the IT support staff aren’t going to do any business if more people go hungry every day.

  25. Emptymind Says:

    Harkol , you are not OK with positive feedback from the system to BPL families but fine with same kind of positive feedback to process of massive industrialization and FDI. You sound dualistic here. Both way positive feedback is positive feedback in whatever system you take. It is highly unstable!! And ultimately destroy the system itself. Don’t manipulate and twist the logic to suite your belief.
    What is connection between massive(read limitless/not controlled) industrialization and human suffering? Is agriculture is not kind of business /economic activity from your lexicon?
    FSB is the karmic Effect of all manipulation/corruption committed by political and economic system of this country.

  26. Emptymind Says:

    How to denourishing hunger? FSB??? Free/concessional distribution of raw materials for hungry BPL families- rice, wheat etc

    How to denourishing unemployment? Massive industrialization(IT-BT)??? Free and concessional distribution of raw materials to hungry Corporate families -natural resources,land,water,minerals, cheap human resources.

    If both hunger and unemployment are same level of social evil. Why Corporates opt for different treatment for themselves and others?. Beat the logic here.

  27. Shemej Says:

    “India had its dalliance with socialism/communism during Indira-Rajiv era, and we ended up pledging gold in 1991. THis time we’ll have to perhaps pledge our undies too.”

    http://www.google.co.in/search?tbo=p&tbm=bks&q=isbn:0807828254

    And see page number 67.

    “The CIA’s role in Kerala did not surface until Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was American ambassodor to India in the early 1970s, briefly acknowledged it in his 1978 book, A dangerous Place. …. Moynihan had fingered former prime minister Indira Gandhi as the recepient of the clandestine funds. Mrs. Indira Gandhi, who as prime minister often denounced CIA, had been president of the ruling Congress party when the Kerala Communists were outsted. She had aggressively called for their dismissal and persuaded the central government led by her father to accept her position.”

    This is not my words, it is the words taken from Ellsworth Bunker’s biography. Undeniable fact.

    Read further:
    “in an oral history interview he gave soon after Moynihan’s book was published, Bunker admitted his own involvement. He expressed no regrets about the operation.”

    Rajiv Gandhi had called communism an outdated ideology any number of times. That is a recent history.

    My question is this: We all know what we type and print will be read by our children and grand children and they will form an opinion about us, based on what we write.

    I can understand some one criticising communism or Congress. But to misinterpret Congress ideology as Communism, only indicates we are just swallowing what the Corporate houses falsely propogate out of their vested interests.

    I am not going for any serious discussion here. It is an absolute waste typing so much and not being published for valid or invalid reasons.

    Can anyone please try to read more about Classical Capitalism and Neo Liberalism? Can some of us read about the differences between keynesian Capitalist Theory and Reaganomics and Communism?

    State Capitalism is not Communism. What exists in China today is not communism, but sheer capitalism. There is a big fight between Democrats and Republicans in USA both are Capitalists and funded by Transnational coporations. But why people think Johnson’s, policies are different from Reagan or Bush is not because they are Communists.

    My dear friends, we need to acknowledge at least one thing. If there is no buyer/purchaser, the Corporate can not sell. When USA corporate started targetting the global market, the purchasing power of millions of USA citizens immediately got affected and they couldnt afford health insurance, they couldnt pay back the mortgage instalments. And we all witness the impact of that. For a robust economy, we need its citizens having decent income so that they can spend more and more and that will trigger more demand and more production. USA can afford to sell in Indian market, but there are not many poorer economies, where indian manufacturers can sell their products. Nearly 70% of Indian population live in Agriculture and Apparel. And less than 1.5% of the population work in IT BT industry. You can not give employment for the 70% of the population (which is more than 90 crore people) in the Software industry. Not even a manufactring industry can give employment to more than 15% population in India in the coming 100 years. Let us be realistic.

    What happened in Kerala, when for decades more than 90% of population were given subsidized rice by government? They didnt collapse. Instead, that became the richest economy in India over the decade. All Government statistics shows that Kerala Rural population is the richest rural population in India. And it has the second richest urban population after Harayana. And the Gujarat and all other So called development paradizes are way behind. Kerala not just have the richest people, it is thriving with business, without any big government subsidy given to Corporate. How is it possible? Think.

    And let me remind you, what exists in Kerala is not communism. But there is an emphasize on Welfare Capitalism, which is directly opposite to Communist principles.

    Many of our friends are apparantly confused between Communism, capitalism, Corporate model, state capitalism, Entrepreneurship, Classical Capitalism, Keynesian Capitalist principles, Reaganomics, Neo liberalism, Finance Capitalism etc. When people mix all these terms, one can only wonder, if they put a little more effort to do some researh before publishing serious articles.

    What Modi practises is Neo Liberalism. What Nitish Kumar practises is Welfare Capitalism by using State machinery. When he gives new employments to thousands of teachers in rural area, a lot of money is channelled to rural areas and that circulate there and trigger further growth. And when he fund to repair rural roads, a lot of state fund is channelled to rural economy. That creates a lot of jobs and further boosts economy. When India got into crisis, Vajpayee ordered big way road construction which triggered demand for more production of cement, metal etc, which helped to boost economy further. These are not exactly neo liberalism.

    Please read more about the dangers of Neo liberalism and finance capitalism.

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