Tuesday, January 31, 2012


What is the best way to please a citizen whose vote is important in a democracy? Normally answer would be to serve the voters through developmental projects and help to make life easier but in India the political parties with all hues have discovered that populist measures with huge financial commitment from the exchequer are the surest bet! The ever vigilant Election Commission is trying its level best to prevent direct "bribing" of the voters through cash payment, obviously with the ill-gotten black money though those caught are minuscule of the vast amounts deployed during election time. In the US the government makes payment to the tune of billions of dollars to its super rich farmers who in turn fund the election of many law makers there. The not so "brand new" program for mass appeasement through the proposed Food Security Bill which is yet to be enacted into a law has the flavor of a massive corruption in the name of citizen welfare. In stead of identifying and supporting those who are in dire need of food, lacking the necessary purchasing power, here is a government trying to give food grains at literally throw away prices with hope that voters will be grateful to it and support the ruling political party in coming elections. Here is a take on this national folly which can cause irreparable damage to the working morale of the population at large! 

'The new Food Security Bill would provide subsidised grain to 75 percent of people in the countryside and half the urban population -- about 810 million -- who cannot afford to eat properly. The extra annual requirement for rice and wheat under the draft law will be at least 45.6 million tonnes -- doubling current levels handed out by the world's second-biggest rice and wheat producer. The food ministry is assuming it will need about 30 percent of total wheat and rice output which tops 180 million tonnes to cover the subsidised food, relying on increased yields and lower wastage to meet demand and keep exports on the agenda".

The investment by its sheer size is astronomical but what is of concern is that such ostentatious spending cannot be considered an investment at all because it is going to be a regular commitment from which no future government will have the courage to backtrack if required. Though it is suggested that this policy will continue till the people are brought out of the poverty cycle, this will be almost like the reservation policy for which the constitution had laid a time limit of twenty years but politicians found it expedient to perpetuate this policy indefinitely for enriching their vote banks. Imagine how effective it would have been if this amount were to be invested on creating permanent assets that will benefit all segments of population. After neglecting agriculture for decades and creating a situation for mass suicides of poor farmers, here comes a policy of appeasing the voters through  supply of food grains practically free without bothering to look at the logistics of producing the expanded need under the new Bill. Government's priority ought to have been to modernize the PDS regime making it pilfer proof and delivering the food to the really needy and deserving consumers in "decent" condition. What will be the future of a country where people do not have to work and earn to get their "daily bread" when it is offered on a platter, practically free of cost!


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