Rotting Food Grains, Rotting Vegetables and Rotten Politics in India
The Indian government is busy clarifying that its definition of poverty line for the country is uncertain - what it means is that India does not know how many hungry people it has.
The government was reacting to the political storm over its low poverty line calculations that it submitted to the country’s Supreme court the day before. It had filed an affidavit before the court that it considered a family earning Rs. 26 [about half a dollar] a day as not poor. It means, families earning more than this paltry sum would not get concessional food and some other facilities that the federal and state governments give to the poor.
Two ministers of the Indian federal government have been playing politics over onion. The government banned onion export two weeks back in the name of rising domestic prices. Yesterday, one of them – Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar – lobbied on behalf of farmers and got the ban lifted. In the meantime, exporters, consumers and farmers suffered.
Now that the potato harvesting season will start in central India, be prepared to hear stories of truckloads of potato being dumped in roads by frustrated farmers who won’t be able to sell their crop. Then the same will happen to tomato.
Politicians interested in fattening their own pockets and those of their cronies and families have no money, energy and will to look at serious issues plaguing the nation such as food wastage, uncertain farming and hunger.
For a couple of years, Indian government's granaries are full to the brim. It procures millions of tonnes of wheat and rice to cater to the public distribution system, welfare schemes and to have a buffer stock. But due to record harvests, it is suffering from the problem of plenty. Not too bothered about grain rotting in very poorly maintained granaries and millions living without two meals a day, the government keeps procuring grains over and over. It has no will to remove massive corruption in the procurement and public distribution systems. It does not allow export even in surplus years for fear of consumer outcry. When the government is questioned, it dishes out blatantly fudged figures and proves that only a minuscule of stored grain is lost to pilferage and wastage.Continued on the next page