National Nutrient Safety Mission Should Endure Linked Amongst The Proposed National Nutrient Safety Act

[The Hindi version of this article is published in the 4 page pullout Hatskshep inwards Rashtriya Sahara of Aug 28, 2010.]

Food together with Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has turned downward the Supreme Court’s proffer bespeak the regime to ensure gratis distribution of nutrient grains to the hungry miserable instead of allowing it to rot inwards the godowns of the Food Corporation of India.

“Give it to the hungry miserable instead of it (grains) going downward the drain,” a bench of judge Dalveer Bhandari together with judge Deepak Verma said piece listening to a petition on the rampant corruption inwards world distribution organization (PDS). This proffer came almost x years after the Supreme Court had directed six-hunger prone United States of America – Orissa, Chattisgarh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat together with Himachal Pradesh – to reopen closed PDS shops together with that likewise inside a calendar week thus every bit the address the occupation of mounting hunger.

This was inwards August 2001. Seven years later, the Supreme Court gave unopen to other directive to the government: “devise a scheme where no someone goes hungry when the granaries are total together with lots beingness wasted due to non-availability of storage space,” hasn’t had the desired impact. Except for statistical jugglery, the regime nosotros all know remains non-committal on its role inwards eradicating hunger.

As I wrote sometimes back, non entirely the Supreme Court, fifty-fifty successive Prime Ministers fourth dimension together with in ane lawsuit to a greater extent than paid a mere lip-sympathy to the miserable together with hungry. In Apr 2001, the thus Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had said inwards his initiative address to a national consultation on “Towards a Hunger Free India” inwards New Delhi: “Democracy together with hunger cannot popular off together. Influenza A virus subtype H5N1 hungry tum questions together with censures the system’s failure to run across what is a basic biological demand of every human being. There tin survive no identify for hunger together with poverty inwards a modern footing inwards which scientific discipline together with applied scientific discipline select created weather for abundance together with equitable development.”

He said the acre is guided yesteryear the commandment of the Upanishads: Annam Bahu Kurvita, literally important “multiply nutrient production many fold. Ensure an abundance of nutrient all around.” How pious. And yet, all his regime did was simply rename together with ‘strengthen’ the world distribution organization thus every bit to ‘use nutrient stocks inwards an imaginative together with purposeful way’ to stabilise prices together with boost exports.

The shocking paradox of the number of people living inwards hunger multiplying amidst flood nutrient godowns has pose the acre to shame. Republic of Republic of India ranks abysmally depression – at ranking 66th amid 88 countries — inwards the Global Hunger Index.

Howsoever the governments swear inwards the get upwardly of hungry together with the poor, the fact remains that it is non a national priority. Amidst the speak of bringing inwards a National Food Security Act, politicians of all political parties, without exception, select been busy talking nearly disinvestment together with the world acquisitions. Policy makers pass to a greater extent than fourth dimension amongst industrialists together with draw of piece of work organization houses, or hobnobbing amongst the diplomats inwards the cocktail circuits.

The combat on the National Food Security Act has non moved beyond the quantity of grains to survive made available to each identify falling nether the category of ‘below the poverty line’ (BPL). While the Ministry of Food together with Agriculture has expressed its inability to render subsidised grain to those living higher upwardly the poverty line, the National Advisory Council headed yesteryear Sonia Gandhi likewise is at a loss to abide by a suitable pathway to address hunger.

Unfortunately, what is non beingness understood is that hunger, agriculture together with nutrient safety are related. These cannot survive viewed separately. The National Food Security Act inwards reality does non expect beyond nutrient entitlements, the monthly ration quota that the miserable needs to survive given at a subsidised rate. Food Security on the other mitt cannot survive viewed without sustainable agriculture together with it is hither that the National Food Security Act fails miserably to depict a linkage.

In fact, I abide by at that topographic point is a terrible confusion on the nutrient safety front. On the ane mitt the regime is thinking of encouraging the individual sector to cultivate oilseeds together with pulses inwards neighbouring countries similar Myanmar, together with also inwards Latin America together with thus import it into India; together with on the other it has launched a Rs 4,883-crore National Food Security Mission to bolster production of wheat, rice, oilseeds together with pulses.

Strangely, the National Food Security Mission has cypher to practice amongst the proposed National Food Security Act. Not many experts who swear inwards the get upwardly of nutrient security ever relate it to the National Food Security Mission.

In fact, setting upwardly a time-bound National Food Security Mission yesteryear enhancing production of wheat, rice, pulses together with edible oils comes at a fourth dimension when the UPA-II regime itself is lowering the custom tariff thereby allowing cheaper imports. Take the instance of edible oils. Republic of Republic of India was almost self-sufficient inwards edible oils inwards 1993-94. Ever since the regime began lowering the tariffs, edible petroleum imports select multiplied turning the the world into the biggest importer. Small farmers growing oilseeds together with that likewise inwards the rainfed areas of the the world had to abandon production inwards the low-cal of cheaper imports.

I retrieve at that topographic point is something terribly incorrect somewhere. The regime has been steadily reducing the import tariffs on edible oils to popular off far cheaper for the domestic consumers thereby destroying the production capacity inside the country. At the same time, it intends to center inwards resources to ameliorate productivity of oilseeds inwards the promise that the imports of edible oils tin survive reduced inwards the years to come. How tin this survive possible? Does it non hateful that the regime programmes inwards reality function at a cross-purpose?

On unopen to other front, land acquisition has popular off a politically motivated issue. While all kinds of options are beingness thrown upwardly regarding how to brand the world acquisition economically worthwhile for the displaced, no ane is talking of its touching on on nutrient security. If the the world continues to survive gobbled upwardly at the prevailing rate, where volition the the world gain nutrient for its growing population?

Who cares?

Don’t worry. The National Food Security Act hai naa, goes the mutual refrain.