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Wastage of food grains inexcusable

The editorial “Criminal waste” (July 22) is timely and has focused on a pertinent issue, especially at a time, when people are badly hurt by the inflation of food commodities. The recent loss of 250 lakh tones wheat in Haryana and Punjab alone because of lack of proper storage facility is shocking. More so when one takes into account the fact that more than one thousand million people in the world suffer from acute hunger today and out of 24 people who die of hunger every minute, 18 are children below the age of five years.

It is also a fact that starvation and hunger are far more widespread than recorded by the official bodies. But the irony is that the widespread starvation is not because of the non-availability of adequate quantity of food grains. The report of the Hunger Project says that more food is produced than is needed for feeding the entire population of the world. Nothing supports this survey better than the editorial comment that the food grains we lost could feed one crore people for a year.

The solution to the problem of starvation of millions in India does not lie in just more and more production, but is linked with the system of storage and distribution. We need to invest massively on the construction of silos and the mechanical handling of food grains. The government should permit private agencies to collect and distribute food grains so that the monopoly of the Food Corporation of India, which is mired in corruption, inefficiency and uses antiquated technology of storage and handling, ends. In a nutshell, a country like India which has a high population growth rate among the developing countries can ill-afford the wastage of food grains.



The wastage of food grains is callous disregard for the labour that goes into its production. To earn or produce anything is of no use if we don’t manage it properly. Preserving food grains is the prime responsibility of the procuring agencies.

There is no point in procuring food grains if we can’t preserve it. If the governments do not have the building of storage facility on their agenda, then it would be better to wind up the agencies and shed the unnecessary bureaucratic flab which is a heavy drain on the exchequer. A country of poor people can ill-afford the luxury of first buying the food grains and then allowing it to rot.

The rot does not lie in the grain bags. It lies in the political vision which has percolated down to the bureaucracy in a big way. It must stop. The criminal wastage of food grains reminds one of Oliver Goldsmith’s famous lines “Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey/ Where wealth accumulates and men decay.”


Politics without direction

I read the editorial, “Discordant voices” (July 24). Indian politics at the moment can be summed up as: With a fossilised ideology and lack of direction, it aims at capturing power (not authority) blatant and arrogant, without any talent to achieve efficiency or display accountability.

No doubt, the country, with an imbalanced economic growth and poor administration is going adrift as its political rulers believe more in forming committees and GoMs and appointing commissions of inquiry and at best appeasing the aggrieved sections with doles of grants and concessions than sincerely attempting to find lasting solutions to problems.

It was almost two decades ago that Dr Manmohan Singh, as the then Union Finance Minister, had emphasised the need for transparency and accountability in our administration, yet what stands out prominently today are corruption, inefficiency, unaccountability and bureaucratic insensitivity.

Ironically, the parties that boasted of discipline and ideology have become prisoners of sectional and vote-bank considerations. With morality being pushed to the wall and the menace of extremism and Maoism gaining ground, one wonders whether Indian democracy can manage to overcome the developmental stagnation and growing anarchic situations.




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