Sunday, August 25, 2013

FOOD SECURITY BILL IN CORRECT PERSPECTIVE

Food security bill is the latest burning issue of Indian politics and seems to highlight the compulsions of the polity. There is no denying the fact that food security is the first basic big element in the chain of value addition in the earning ability of an individual, his health and India's march towards poverty alleviation. Food subsidy bill talks in terms of providing food to 50% of urban India (377 million) and 75% of rural India ( 833 million) at highly subsidised rates at a whopping cost of Rs 1,30,000 crore to the exchequer. Add to this the cost of pilferage, grain rotting and logistics inefficiencies, an estimated amount of Rs 60,000 -70,000 crore. A cost of about Rs 2,00,000 crore for meeting the basic food requirements of 800 million of Indian citizens after 66 years of rule by politicians totally dedicated to the cause of the common man. A matter to be proud of ???? Still let the country grant them credit for at least imbibing the motto 'BETTER LATE THAN NEVER'. ( Excerpts from http://veekay-indiandreamsvsreality.blogspot.in/2013/08/wrong-economics-or-wrong-intentions.html )
There are a few basic questions that any well meaning citizen of this country fails to understand.
  • The timing of this bonanza of dole/freebie : India has been governed by this very polity for the last sixty years plus ( In fact more than 75% have been there for 25 years or more and in many cases  the power has been passed into the hands of 2nd and 3rd generation ) and all these years, election after election the common man has been misled/fooled into believing that his woes and miseries have been reduced by successive governments responsive to all their causes including food, shelter and clothing and their utmost concern for their upliftment. Today all of a sudden, 833 million people of the country need subsidized food for their basic existence and that too in the 10th year of rule of Congress and its allies. Add to this the fact that Indian economy is almost at its nadir and is fighting the menace of inflation coupled with high fiscal and current account deficits along with rupee devaluation. Is this the right time to indulge into an activity of providing additional 2 lakh crore to 3 lakh crore subsidy. But alas, this has got to be done now and now alone because this is perhaps the last straw for the sinking ship of this Indian government  which does not have any worthwhile achievement to boast of and is totally mired in corruption scams, Even the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) feels that Food security bill will eat into India's finances but the government instead of showing some sincerity and honesty towards the national interest is simply bent upon looking for its own future and is playing vote bank politics.
  • Why there has been a shift from the lofty principle of food for work to food for right to exist/life. The Indian citizenry to the Indian polity is like ants feeding wheat flour to whom by  Indian polity  is a path towards their Nirvana ( In this case a ticket to electoral victory and another chance to suck the country for their own luxuries and benefits ).
So much for the intentions behind this so called noble desire to serve the humanity. To an independent observer the following gaps/ lacunae very smartly left uncovered  by the policy makers are big irritants and will take the nation and its economy to dogs in the long run.
  • There is no mention of the fact or any provision in the act about the period for which the provisions of the act will be applicable. Similarly, as the years roll by and with the likely growth of GDP, will there be any change in the quantum of subsidy and the number of beneficiaries. In a country like India where the only obsession of polity is to play to the gallery of its vote bank and coming to power by fair means or foul, making such provisions has little value as we have seen in the case of reservation policy and earlier subsidies. After all India has been ruined by a plethora of subsidies which could not even be rationalized leave alone doing away with them.
  • Add to this the urge of the governments to play to the agriculturist vote banks and lobbies as also the fact that the prices of food grains will keep on going up courtesy inflation and costs of inputs, food bill subsidy will keep on growing.
While any sane person will not and should not grudge providing food security to the poor. It is well known that a healthy mind grows in a healthy body.  Healthy body and healthy mind are the two basic prerequisites of the human resource development which is one of the major next gen growth engine of the Indian economy. But food security bill must be taken up in the right earnest with an eye only on the future of India. Any digression from this to make it a ploy for vote bank politics now or in future will kill all chances of India becoming an economic superpower through unmanageable budgetary deficits. The choice is before Indian polity. Rise to the occasion for the sake of country and your beloved masses. For this threshold moment leave your baser instincts and lust for power in the interest of the nation otherwise be a mute witness to the reality of Is India progressing or regressing and Indian citizenry will never forgive you for having failed them in their long term aspirations.