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Food security law's success still uncertain

The food security ordinance has become a law with immediate effect. It reportedly gives a legal right to "monthly food handouts to 67 per cent of our population at a fraction of the market price". It remains to be seen whether it will provide a square meal to millions of hungry souls.

Clause 10 of the ordinance has reportedly given six months' time to all the states for identifying the starved "in a fair and transparent manner". If those in need of food are yet to be identified, then where did this figure of 67 per cent come from? Moreover, it is difficult to get a 'fair and transparent' identification of millions of hungry people, and, one feels, the limited timeframe will have to be extended. So the success of the new food law in providing food to the deserving cannot be guaranteed.

BALVINDER, Chandigarh

Wastage of food

It is shameful that 10 per cent of the total production of food grains has been wasted annually for the last 10 years due to the lack of infrastructure, coordination and untrained staff. Moreover, the government is not taking appropriate steps to ensure the storage of foodgrains in a proper way. In India, a large number of people go hungry daily and on the other side, we are wasting precious food grains that could be utilised to feed the hungry.

The need of the hour is to create more storage facilities spacious enough to properly store a big quantity of the produce and those already being used should be properly maintained under the supervision of trained staff. The government can hire private godowns, but the wastage of food grains should be stopped so that these can be served to the needy free of cost or at nominal rates. More innovative ways must be used to check the wastage of grains.


Crop diversification

This refers to the news item 'Centre accepts diversification proposals, sanctions Rs 224 cr' and the editorial 'Quitting paddy' (July 2). Diversification in the farm sector is crucial for maintaining the ecological balance, ensuring food safety and sustaining the rural economy. The role of the state government in promoting diversification through financial subsidies is, therefore, pivotal.

Over the years, successive governments in Punjab have successfully persuaded farmers to shift from the foodgrain crops to horticulture by subsidising plant material and inter-state export costs, notably in the case of kinnow crop. However, very often farmers' fate hangs in balance once he shifts to other crops such as kinnow that are perishable and have no price support or processing avenues. To top it all, the government has not been able to disburse subsidies to kinnow farmers for the last two years. The state corporation, Punjab Agro, has been sitting on the farmers' subsidy dues since 2011-12. Good intentions are not enough. The government must build robust delivery systems if it wants the farming community to cooperate in achieving the goal of diversification.


Nature's fury

In today's world, most problems are created by humans themselves as has been rightly stated by D R Chaudhry in his article 'Human greed and nature's fury.' (July 5). Though man has been trying to control nature from time immemorial, particularly by modern-day technology, he has remained unsuccessful and faced disastrous consequences instead. It is strange that a country like India, where major religions of the world owe its origin to it and preach a healthy relationship with nature, we are adopting a destructive attitude towards it. It is high time we all respected nature otherwise it would show its fury again and again like it did in Uttarakhand.


Control price rise

The present UPA government doesn't deserve to be called a government for the common man as it professes to be. In fact, it is a government for the corporates, businessmen and traders. While it has done nothing to control the ever rising prices, it is allowing traders an open loot through non-payment of taxes like income tax, VAT and sales tax in full and through the practice of printing of exorbitant MRP on the packing of various products for which it has given a free hand to manufacturers. The government will be doing a small mercy to the common man in this election year if it takes, in its hands, the control of printing of MRP realistically after considering various input costs and reasonable profits of the manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer.


Shakespeare not for graduates?

The decision of Panjab University to discontinue the teaching of Shakespeare's works up to the graduation level is a retrograde step. The present-day students of Punjab already lack in the knowledge of English, both written and spoken. There are some simpler poems like The Seven ages of man which have always been a part of English textbooks and contain ultimate philosophy of life. Writing off Shakespeare will deprive them of a spirit of humanism which runs through all his writings. Shakespeare is the father figure of the English language and banishing him from the syllabi will take away the essence of teaching a language, which has become an international lingua franca of the computer generation. You should not cut off the roots of a tree if you expect it to grow healthy.

GS AUJLA, Chandigarh



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