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Food security: need for White Paper

I read the editorial, “Hungry India: Grant millions the right to food” (Oct 17). The alarming position of India in terms of 66th rank in Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2008 with 23.7 score in 100-point scale needs serious introspection by all the stakeholders including the government.

The Centre should bring out a White Paper on food security. The politics and economics associated with the issues regarding non- agricultural use of land are deplorable. Keeping in view the plight of the farmers and the current food deficit and the National Food Security Mission’s concerns, the people are entitled to know the causes that trouble food security.

Clearly, there is a decline in the use of land in agriculture from 1,850 lakh hectare in 1980 to 1,830 lakh hectares in 2003. The per capita availability of land for agriculture has also declined from .27 hectares to .18 hectares. This is due largely to non-agricultural use of land, particularly housing and converting land as an asset to a commodity by the real estate dealers in every state including Haryana. This should not be allowed to reduce hunger.

Dr M.M. GOEL, Professor & Chairman, Dept of Economics, Kurukshetra University



The editorial is an eye-opener for all of us. Our Five-Year Plans, accompanied by free market economy, have failed to eradicate hunger and poverty in the country. Who are the real beneficiaries in the present socio-economic system? Who is to make substantial arrangements for the poor people’s education, health and employment to make them “productive” and better human beings?

A welfare state can’t run away from its responsibilities. Go on providing food to the hungry people through different schemes but providing them the resources and skills should receive top priority. They must be enabled to increase their purchasing power.



Hunger should be a vital concern of a welfare society that has been marginalised and finds little space in national consciousness. The unprecedented high economic growth on which privileged India prides itself is a measure of the high speed at which India of privilege is distancing itself from India of crushing poverty.

Are we still proud of the Indian spirit and globalisation? Globalisation has added fuel to the fire of ever-increasing contrasts between the rich and the poor, the urban and the rural, presenting a dangerous picture of increase in disease and death due to malnutrition in rural areas and obesity, diabetes and heart diseases in urban areas.

The poverty data reminds us that it is not enough to grow; it is also vital that increasing numbers of people benefit from the growth.

Dr VITULL K. GUPTA, Bathinda

Parity in pension a must

The Sixth Central Pay Commission had given a raw deal to the old pensioners. Why are the civil pensioners not given parity in pension as on January 1, 2006?

The Fifth Pay Commission had given full parity to all old pensioners up to January 1, 1986. Its successor had ignored all the recommendations of its predecessors. These include 1 per cent increase in pension for those who rendered over 33 years of service; restoration of commutation amount after 12 instead of 15 years. Why did it leave the decision on increasing medical allowance to the government? It should be increased to Rs 500 a month.

Moreover, as the average lift span of an Indian is 63 years, pension raise at 80 years is a cruel joke. Pension hike of at least 10 per cent should be granted at the age of 70 or 75 years and another 10 per cent at 80, 85, 90, 95 or 100 years to help pensioners.

SHER SINGH, Ludhiana

Gimmicks galore

On the one hand, the Punjab government is facing a serious economic crunch and, on the other, the Akali Dal (B) leaders are laying foundation stones for various projects. If the government has no money, from where will finances come for these projects? Obviously, the Akali Dal (B) is taking the people for a ride for garnering votes in the ensuing Lok Sabha elections.

The state government should understand that concrete work and not gimmicks will bring them votes. The Amarinder Singh government had tried to woo voters through populist policies before the Assembly elections in 2007 and we know well its dismal exit. The Akali-BJP government will meet the same fate if it does not stop leading the people up the garden path.


Unjust comparison

Arundhati Ghose’s article “Services’ contempt of civil authority is not casual” (Oct 22) has raised issues of profound interest relating to civil-military relations in India.

Her comparison of the Indian Army with the Pakistan Army and ISI is totally unjust. Non-implementation of the Cabinet decision of a cut-off date cannot be considered defiance of the government directive which, nonetheless, reflected the Services’ inability to implement the decision post haste.

Army instructions and orders are by no means time bound. When the Services are engaged with anti-terrorist and anti-subversive forces, a little delay cannot be misconstrued as defiance of government authority. The issuance of an unclassified note, which did not involve tactical or strategic issues, was perhaps the only legitimate way of telling the troops the progress of the pay commission’s recommendations. In fact, it is the onerous duty of all commanders to keep their men informed of the matter.

If timely action is not taken to correct the bureaucratic approach, the incident will always be quoted in future as confrontation of the Services and the civil government which has its inherent dangers.

Brig M. P. SINGH, Chandigarh



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