Way to ensure sustainable food security

Apropos of Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia’s article, “Tackle poverty with growth: Agriculture, labor-intensive sectors hold key” (Jan 17), the decline in the foodgrains output is cause for concern in the light of decreasing land and water resources and increasing population. The decline in the yield growth rates of wheat and rice reflects partly declining real prices for cereals, institutional constraints on input supply, rural credit and infrastructure.

Of late, investment in agricultural research has been insufficient to pursue continuous flow of yield increasing technologies. Structural and increased levels of investment in agricultural research are needed to avoid continuous decline in the yield growth rate.

Vitally important areas of action are natural resource conservation and innovation development and dissemination in the natural resource and agricultural productivity domain to increase carrying capacity of the natural resource.

For sustainable food security, it is necessary to integrate long-term population policies, economic development and productivity enhancing strategies and natural resources conserving programmes. This should involve short-term actions to remove market distortions, correct institutional failures, design more effective policies and move towards good governance.



Transparency, people’s participation in decision making and official accountability are key requirements of good governance that is essential for reducing poverty and food insecurity.

Dr N.S. PASRICHA, Former Director, Centre for Potato Research in India, Gurgaon


The various schemes of poverty reduction and employment generation, natural resource conservation and production, rural housing and drinking water and sanitation were conceived very well. The real problem is the delivery mechanism which needs to be taken care of by the government.

Though Dr Ahluwalia wants these schemes to be run by the local governments instead of a centralised system, the Rural Development Ministry has provided little role to the local governments in the recent National Food for Work Programme. This programme launched in 150 backward districts, the District Collector is the nodal officer. As Dr Ahluwalia is the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, he must bestow personal attention on this aspect.

Despite huge allocations to improve agriculture in the rain-fed areas through Hariyali, the programme has not achieved the desired objectives due to poor implementation. The mid-term review of the Plan should take care of the “delivery mechanism”, fixing accountability on the officials.

Prof PURAN SINGH, Haryana Institute of Rural Development, Nilokheri (Karnal)

Raw deal for Haryana staff

Government employees all over may be performing identical duties, but when it comes to wages, perks and incentives, the Haryana government employees are children of a lesser God. They are neither paid perks on the Central Government pattern nor the pay scales of Punjab, Chandigarh UT or Himachal Pradesh governments. As a result, they remain the lowest paid employees in the region.

Haryana’s employees do not get House Rent Allowance @ 15 per cent of basic pay. School teachers in far flung rural schools get a paltry Rs 400 as HRA. There is no leave travel concession, monthly conveyance allowance and assured career progression (ACP) incentive for most small government departments. Group A and B officers are the worst suffers. Group B officers go without promotion for years. Their counterparts in Punjab, Chandigarh and HP get assured time scales at a gap of 4-9-14 years.

The blame squarely lies on the top officials who simply do not care, their service conditions being governed by the All-India Services rules.


Help tsunami victims

This has reference to Kuldip Nayar’s article, “Why say no to foreign aid: Pride does not lessen if tragedy is shared” (Jan 12). The authorities concerned need to explain why the Centre does not welcome foreign assistance or why it refuses to request for foreign assistance in connection with the tsunami disaster? Such an unfriendly, if not hostile, policy on the part of our government could be branded as funny.

Powerless apolitical people like me as well as the powerful politicians who are away from the tragic site of the tsunami disaster living in the comfort zone of India’s capital city have nothing to lose. But ask the tsunami survivors and they will speak critically of our government at the Centre. They will tell us how our political arrogance is affecting them adversely. The massive relief and rehabilitation task has to be handled by us in all humility with the help of friendly countries.


Killing of a leopard

This refers to the reports on the leopard’s death (Jan 25 and 28) and the editorial “Instant injustice” (Jan 26). As earlier, this time too, the trigger-happy policemen killed the leopard for having strayed into a school. The tranquilliser darts could well have done the job had the police and wildlife warden acted wisely.

Since the leopard population is reported to have increased beyond the carrying capacity of their natural habitat, the police and the wildlife strategists should prepare an action plan before another new encounter. There is need for better crisis management during such exigencies. This is possible if practical training in safe catching of wild animals is imparted to the police and wildlife personnel during their routine course in police schools and forest/ wildlife institutions. Sloth and insensitivity will lead the vanishing species to extinction.



I agree that we are very poor in crisis management. With expert handling, the feline could have been trapped, tranquillised and saved. It was sad to learn that the order to shoot down the animal was given by the authorities who are supposed to protect animals in all unforeseen situations. Clearly, the State Wildlife Department was taken unawares. Neither the tranquillising gun nor any expert was available to meet the emergency.

The panther survived the grim weather but was beaten by the fury of man. He crossed the difficult terrain but was lost in the plains of plenty.

H.M. SAROJ, Chandigarh


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