Sunday, January 23, 2011


A giant is likely to proceed more cautiously than others because of the logistics of limb and body movement and India fits into the description of a giant at least from the population angle. There for politicians of ruling group always justify slow progress and huge time over-run in almost all developmental activities citing the "giant" size of the country! Of course they forget that China is a bigger giant than India but it still manages to move at a frenetic pace aspiring to become the most powerful economic power in the world. After seven decades of independent existence those who control the destiny of the country at present has "discovered" that water scarcity is here to stay and there is need to conserve water! Here is a take on that.

"Concerned over the depleting groundwater table in Punjab and Haryana, the Centre is planning to increase the procurement of oilseeds and pulses, both less water consuming, from the two states. The aim is to make farmers prefer these crops over paddy, in what may be seen as a shift in the Union government's food policy. And instead of Punjab and Haryana, the government would promote paddy cultivation in the eastern states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal, said Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar. Pawar, however, said that a formal decision in this regard would only be taken after taking into confidence the state governments of Punjab and Haryana and farmers. "The government proposes to procure horticulture produce, pulses and oil seeds from the two states, and farmers will get higher price (MSP) for these crops than what they get for paddy. We will, however, continue to procure wheat from here," he said.

One never knows whether the statement by the most "dysfunctional" minister in the Union cabinet was expressing his personal opinion or it is going to be a policy that will be implemented soon. It is a mystery as to what prevented the government so far from procuring crops raised with less water that could have conserved precious water. One may recall that it was just about 2 decades ago that GOI launched with much fanfare its much touted Mission on oil seeds and pulses investing lot of money obviously to tide over the never ending shortage of these critical commodities but nothing came out of it due to callousness and disorganized, uncoordinated efforts of multiple agencies. Production of both these crops remained stagnant with GOI resorting to imports on an ad hoc basis, as a fire fighting operation. Is it not a shame that the same government is talking about oil seeds and pulses now as if it is a new problem? Probably democracies like that in India can thrive only when people have short memories and politicians are able to recycle the same "trash" over and over again with none being able to call their bluff!


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