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Food Bill: Make the poor ‘able’, not disabled

According to the Food Security Bill manifesto, 75 per cent of rural and 25 per cent of urban people would be benefited. What must be taken into account is that the food Bill demands a mammoth funding of Rs 6 lakh crore which would add extra pressure on the already deficit-prone economy.

The quintessential need of the country is agrarian reforms which would be more productive. Recently, it was reported that the PDS (Public Distribution System) godowns were filled with humungous piles of wheat and because of infrastructural inadequacy; they rotted and were thrown in garbage where stray cattle fed on it.

The government must not make farmers eternal destitutes by providing food for free. If food is provided for free, no one would work. The Bill must be judiciously used for only those categories who can not afford to make both ends meet.

Once there was a beggar whose belly was burning of starvation. He was walking by a pond where he saw a fisherman catching fish. He approached the fisherman to give him a fish to eat.

The fisherman did not give him a fish but taught him how to catch a fish. He could have fed him for a day but by his wisdom when he taught the beggar to catch fish, he fed him for a lifetime. Similarly, the government must not ‘feed’ people but ‘teach’ them.



The editorial ‘Welfare at its best’ highlighted the challenge before the government in successful implementation of the proposed Food Security Bill. Faulty government policies have led to an undue share to wheat and rice in the entire stock of foodgrains while coarse cereals like bajra, jowar, ragi etc are seeing a decline in their respective areas of cultivation.

These crops, referred to as ‘nutri-cereals’ by Dr M S Swaminathan, well-known scientist who excelled in agriculture research and rural development,  must also be encouraged. It will serve  the twin objective of meeting the required demand of foodgrains and the nutrition requirement of a burgeoning  population.

A diversification in the basket of   food grains is a must to maintain fertility  level of the soil which has been depleting in several parts of the country like Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh   due to scarcity of nutrients. Inclusion of these nutri-cereals in the proposed  welfare measure will automatically  boost  their demand and hence promote  their  large-scale  cultivation in the country, thereby diversifying the agricultural landscape.



The intention of introducing the Food Security Bill is noble but the Congress-led UPA government is doing it for political populism. The major hurdle is identifying the proposed beneficiaries; the other is assuring the supply of food grains. Our agriculture is a monsoon gamble, an unpredictable phenomenon, therefore nothing can be forecast seeing the lush green fields. Due to mismatch in the MSP and farm input cost, the crops like wheat and paddy are no more viable. Tons of foodgrains rot in the open due to lack of storage arrangements. The PDS (Public distribution system) in the country is corrupt and the real beneficiaries shall be PDL fair price shops and lower government workforce. The Bill shall become like opium addiction for them. The best way to help poor is to make them able to earn by engaging them gainfully and provide them food as envisaged under the proposed bill.

The government must provide the farming sector with security and incentives, which are otherwise being provided to the exporters and industries. The farm credit is costly and the marketing system is unfriendly to the farmers. The scheme can become workable if it is implemented in blocks; the identification of beneficiaries, procurement, storage and distribution must be done at block level. The beneficiaries must be given grains in return for work.


Ban on Gita

This is with reference to the news item Ruckus in LS over move to  ban Bhagwad Gita in Russia (December 20). It is perhaps for the first time that a ban on the Bhagwad Gita, one of the holiest Hindu scriptures, has been sought without any logic. Since its first publication, ‘Bhagwad Gita as it is’ has been translated into 60 languages, including Russian and is widely considered the best-selling Indian text in the world. The ban on Gita in Russia would be a serious infringement on the rights of the Hindu community residing in Russia.

Will it be justified to call the other holy scriptures in the world as ‘extremist literatures’ without using scientific approach? I don’t think that Krishna guiding Arjuna to walk on the path of moral responsibility; not to be bound by ties of love, fear and pride, is wrong. On universal human values, the Gita escapes the pettiness of caste or creed, Krishna mentioned that a human being is defined by deeds, not birth. Tomsk State University should give a second thought to the ban on the Gita by taking opinion from experts who have knowledge of the language, culture and traditions of the subcontinent. 

HARISH K. MONGA, Ferozepur

Beyond fame

Apropos of the editorial Ratans of Bharat (December 19), the highest civilian honour of the land is ideally meant for those who have rendered a yeoman’s service to society by his/her values, principles and deeds. Performance of sportsmen hardly has any bearing on the lives of the vast Indian population whose only thought is to survive for the day. Apart from renowned figures, there exist innumerable people who are engaged in educating poor children for free or who donate their only piece of land to set up a school or a dispensary. Their contribution towards society is much greater than the sport stars, and Sachin Tendulkar too would agree.




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