Saturday, February 13, 2010

Food insecurity, Price rise and derailed Governance

In the aftermath of sixty first republic day the people of India are not sure when will cease the skyrocketing prices of food grains and basic and bare necessities for life; lot of them are not sure about having two meals a day; they are uncertain about their future and that of their families. This is the sad story of India’s teeming millions. The middle class is equally insecure, as the price rise has eaten up heavily their earnings and salaries.

In the last few decades it hardly happened that the country and aam admi got as much insecure for their basic necessities to feed themselves and their families. In the last one year the price of the food grains and commodities has risen to such an alarming stage that has pointed the finger towards pathetic governance by the blue blooded gentries seating in their comfortable chambers in the national capital.

The Honorable Union Minister of Agriculture having additional portfolio of Food and Supplies seems unimpressed and stoic about the plight of the people. His prophecies for the price rise of basic commodities are encouraging the hands of brokers, black marketers and share market bulls. The sugar price soared to all time high of Rs. 50 a kilo from Rs. 16, three times high in a calendar year- once he made the announcement that price is expected to increase. The similar situation is regarding other commodities especially rice, wheat and pulses. Government can do far better than issuing instructions to the people to eat less sugar and get prevented from diabetes. What about the spiraling price of green vegetables?

His latest prophesy is regarding the price rise of milk in northern India. He announced on January 20, 2010: “We are facing insufficient availability of milk, especially in northern India. In October, we had taken a decision on prices. Today, there is a demand that we should hike the prices”. Full-cream milk such as Amul and Mother Dairy is selling in the retail market for Rs 30 per liter. In a year the price has gone up by near 100 per cent from Rs. 18 to Rs. 30. No doubt the congress leadership has instructed the minister to address the problem rather than merely parroting about the same. There had been a record production of food grains in the last three-four years and so despite a 23 per cent monsoon shortfall, the impact would not been that much.

Merely instructing the state governments for do’s and dont’s can’t cure the malaise as did: “My appeal to all State Governments is that they should take the issue of price rise very seriously to protect the interest of the consumers, otherwise it will be difficult,” he said. Chief Minister of Bihar Mr. Nitish Kumar and Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Ms. Mayavati have slammed Sharad Pawar’s statement for passing the buck on state governments for controlling price rise. The wrong import and export policy of the union government by allowing export of commodities like sugar at minimum price, poor storage conditions of food grains in Food Corporation of India godowns, unholy politician-capitalist nexus are the prime reasons behind the problem, which the government has failed to tackle.

Prime Minister’s statement that India is committed to price stability is not enough to treat the malaise, unless effective steps are taken to address the issue. If the current food insecurity situation has to tackle the prime minister need to impose confidence among the people by assertive action by controlling inflation, reviewing the import-export policy, ensuring poise in the supply demand of the basic commodities etc. As the wholesale price-based inflation escalating to 7.31 per cent for the month-ended December, 2009 and food prices increasing by over 17 per cent, although Reserve Bank of India has taken steps to restrict flow of money supply, however that should not cause to be retrograding to already stressed banking sector. However how effective such steps will be only time will tell.

Article by:
Om Prakash
Assistant Professor
National Law University, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India

No comments:

Post a Comment

Ground Report India publishes articles as they are given. Ground Report India is not responsible for views of writers, critics and reporters. For any contradiction, please contact to the author.

Please give your Name, Email, Postal Address and Introduction with comment.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.