Friday, June 7, 2013


In India the citizens are left wondering as to how many caps a minister can wear simultaneously, miserably failing to do any thing properly and efficiently! Any one watching the sordid cricket "circus" on the electronic media during the last one week must have noticed that it is the politicians who "manage" cricket in this country though none of them would have even handled a bat or a ball in their life. Same is true with all sports bodies where politicians, even in their seventies and eighties refuse to allow others younger and more knowledgeable than them to assume responsibility. Analogous to this, the cooperatives in this country also are "infested" with politicians of all hues and colors and even when they assume ministerial responsibilities , their industry interests are above that of the poor citizens. Here is an example of the agriculture minister of the country canvassing for the interests of the cooperative sugar industry by demanding from his own government to make sugar more expensive to the consumer through import policy manipulation! Probably he must be thinking that the citizens affected by such rise in sugar prices, will forget it during election time! Further he must be sure that electorates are just fools not capable of punishing him for his misdeeds and will reelect him every 5 years without fail! Here is his case.

"The minister said that despite drought in Maharashtra, India's sugar production in the 2012-13 crop marketing year that will end on September 31 is expected to be around 25 million tonnes. When these are added to the season's opening balance of six million tonnes, it will leave the country with around eight million tonnes in stocks when the current  season ends. "Therefore, availability of sugar will be much more than domestic consumption , despite the drought in Maharashtra. Hence, we do not need imports at this stage," Pawar is believed to have written. According to industry officials, usually, the country's opening balance of sugar is around 4.5 million tonnes. Giving another reason for increasing the import, officials said the minister let as international prices of sugar have been falling in the last few months, the Indian market has also dropped. The domestic price has seen a steady fall since October 2012, which has led to the accumulated cane arrears and hence, the import duty should be hiked, Pawar wrote. India's sugar production has stabilised at  23-25 million tonnes because of a declining recovery ratio. Recently, the government partially removed some of the decades-old curbs on the  Rs 80,000 crore sector, which is expected to boost its efficiency in the coming years. It abolished the levy sugar mechanism, under which millers had to sell a fixed portion of their annual produce to the government for distribution through ration shops at cheap rates. It also gave the mills freedom to sell any quantity of sugar at any point of time."

More concessions government gives, higher is the appetite for making money at a faster pace as far sugar industry is concerned. It was very recently that government decontrolled the sugar sector, removing the levy sugar system for two years and with this one policy change sugar sales by the manufacturers are now driven purely by supply-demand dynamics. Though this sector was happy initially, it soon realized that its fortunes are influenced by international sugar market prices as India, being a member of WTO has to ensure free trade as a part of its commitment to the world body. As the global sugar prices are falling, imports are cheaper than that expected by the industry. The domestic industry is not able to make killing profits as it has hoped and hence this demand by the minister who is also a prominent sugar baron to increase import duty substantially so that domestic prices can also be raised! Why the poor sugarcane producers are being used as a pawn in this dirty game should e understood in this context. The rich sugar barons have money for every thing in life but plead  that liquidity problems prevent them from paying the mandated minimum price for the sugarcane crop to the farmers when it is delivered at their factory gate. It is time that the government stands up to their machination, does not buckle under their lobby and does not sacrifice the interest of the poor farmer.  


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