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Food delivery depends on corrupt babus

While it is commendable to enact a law for providing food for 82 million poor people of India, the final delivery of the food depends upon the babus, the mangers of the system under each state government. Unfortunately, there is big divergence in the amount and type of food produced and the efficiency in the food delivery, depending upon the level of corruption in each district of each state. Some states and their administrators are clean, efficient and food is available for distribution even within the state. Others where the maximum poor population exists are highly corrupt and inefficient and the managers make all kinds of excuses: unavailability of food, delays asking the poor to come tomorrow or the office time is over, or the clerk is sick or simply absent.

A poor and illiterate family has no way to object to such babus who are in collusion with the netas in power. Each of the babus and netas have a cut in the food stored, shipped and shown as lost during unloading or as unfit for consumption. This would be repeated many more times with or without the Aadhaar card because it has happened and continues to happen with the old ration cards. The ration cards have been often taken by the store owners and distributors for which they give loans and then sell the same in the open market at a higher price. Thus a section of the poor and destitute will not get their share of cheap food depending upon where they are living.

The solution lies in punishing such corrupt food handlers with heavy penalties, including life-term jail and death sentence, through fast-track courts just as in the case of rape or murder. A clause to this effect should be included in the food security law to assure food delivery to the poor. But then the law-makers remain unpunished despite charges of murder, rape and money extortion and laundering. There are no fast-track courts and the money they have made and property they have built through these illegal and corrupt means are not attached and confiscated. Such persons have been re-elected time and again as MPs and MLAs and have enjoyed years of freedom and a good life until a court finds them guilty after 17 to 20 years. Unfortunately, this system will continue beyond 2014 no matter who becomes the new PM unless there is major reform in the implementation of law and order.

B.S. AHLOOWALIA, agriculture scientist formerly associated with IAEA/FAO, Vienna, Austria

Food security

The article 'Challenges in food security' (October 7) by Abhilaksh Likhi has rightly emphasised the need for investment in critical areas like storage and strengthening the distribution system to ensure not only the successful implementation of the National Food Security Act, 2013, but also to ensure nutrition to those teeming millions in this country who are earning less than $1.25 a day. India has achieved self-sufficiency in the production of foodgrains with adequate buffer stocks. The time has come that people get adequate foodgrains and edibles at affordable prices to improve their nutritional level.

All India requires for meeting the challenge of foodgrains storage and its delivery to the needy at affordable cost is to create additional storage facilities like rural godowns at the village/cluster level for storage of grains to at least meet the local requirements. The procurement centers should be opened at the cluster level to reduce the cost of transportation. The rural godowns can be created under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA). The storage and distribution should be handled by the gram panchayats with the support of the government. Secondly, transportation of foodgrains from surplus to deficit areas should be planned meticulously with advance assessment of requirement in the neighbouring states. The other important aspect is of oiling the public distribution system which has been notorious for its misdeeds and also revamping of the implementation machinery by eliminating corrupt practices from the distribution system.

DR PURAN SINGH, Chandigarh

Protecting a killer?

You have rightly said in the editorial 'The tandoor case' (October 10) that the Supreme Court is shockingly humane. It is a classic case of being humane to an inhuman. If living full life is so precious that the judge wants the killer of a life to live till his last breath under the protection of the state, then it gives a message that whosoever kills first will be protected till his last breath.

PROF K K GARG, Chandigarh 

Stop me not!

Women are reassessing their travel plans following the fatal rape of a Delhi woman, and the gang rape of a Swiss tourist. These publicised cases have sparked protests and opened up discussion about violence against women in India and new legislation has been passed. But are these brutal attacks going to put us off experiencing the beautiful, chaotic India? The answer is: absolutely not.

A lot of women travellers and explorers like Isabelle Ebertardt and Hester Stanhope used to travel in the olden times disguised as men. While there used to be only a handful of them earlier, now the times have changed. A new travel research has shown that women are increasingly taking charge of travel plans and travelling solo, with friends, family, kids and yes, all-girls vacation in India.

A woman on her own in our country will certainly experience some hassles, but the rewards of an open mind and a relaxed attitude are great. Ishita Arora (name changed), a young scientist, says," Women have a need to plan their travels for they have to worry about their safety". As a solo traveller for most trips, she says that we just need to make sure that the place we visit is safe and, above all, always be on your guard. Just be firm and avoid having conversation with men who are travelling alone.

Busy lifestyles of corporate husbands have pushed many women to take the plunge and discover the world on their own or with small groups of like-minded friends. Women of today know that sitting at home is no solution to the problem. We just need to be cautious and be responsible for our own safety.

Then go girl and soar,

spring to life with a roar.

Do not fear no more,

just keep growing more and more.




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