Monday, October 13, 2014


Election time rhetoric is very misleading can be gauged from the fact that a new government, boasting of its own majority without being hamstrung by "coalition dharma", is continuing the "food doling" program enacted under the misleading name of Food Security Act by the earlier government bleeding the country of its financial resources. Every body knows that not even 25% of the targeted population of 81 crore need such magnanimity by the government but the central government does not seem to be bothered about these incongruities in giving extensions after extensions to state governments to implement this misplaced subsidy heavy cereal distribution scheme to all and sundry without verifying their financial status. It is still not clear as to why the earlier PDS machinery was overlooked,having built it brick by brick over the last 3-4 decades. If there were pilferage, they should have been plugged and the pilferers taken to the gallows for such heinous crimes! The reported news that the new food minister seems to be pressurizing those state governments who have doubts about the need for such heavy subsidies, is disturbing to most citizens in the country as it is their hard earned money given to the government as part of their taxation obligation which is being frittered away in the name of equity for all.

"The Central government has decided to give states an additional six months to implement the National Food Security Act that gives two-thirds of the country's population the right to highly subsidised food grains.  This is the second extension given by the Narendra Modi government to the states. A three-month extension given earlier has expired on October 4. More than 6.1 crore tonnes of rice, wheat and coarse cereals are expected to be distributed to 81 crore people, covering 75% rural and 50% urban population, under the programme. So far, eleven states - Haryana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Chandigarh - have implemented the law, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Thursday. States have to prepare the list of beneficiaries, issue cards to them "..

Helping the poor with low cost food is a noble cause for which every honest citizen in the country would stand up and support but doling the same to people with reasonable income to buy their grains from the open market or getting them through the old ration card system cannot be justified under any excuse. Same is true regarding subsidized cooking fuel or for that matter any subsidy program without identifying the eligible beneficiaries. It is not realized that with to day's income levels the budgetary outgo for food for a family is not more than 50% of the family income for majority of the citizens in the country and providing 5 kg per person of cereals at Rs 1-6 in a month does not help them much. Recent reports indicate that there not many takers for the much touted job guarantee scheme of the government paying Rs 150 per day for 100 days. Does not this mean that there is a substantial population earning much above this. Against this background the heavy out go to the extent of almost Rs1.5 lakh crore year after year till perpetuity on this doling program is uncalled for. Will the new government ignore the electoral compulsions and politics of expediency and scrap this program forthwith? Future generations will not pardon them for this profligacy in a nation that cannot be called rich by any yardstick.


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