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July 2008

Vol 52

Chief Editor : Anurag Misra Joint Director (Prod) : N.C. Mazumder

Cover Photo: Sarvesh
In-charge : Manogyan R. Pal Cover Layout : Mridula Dave
E-mail (Editorial) :
(Circulation) : pdjucir_
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Let noble thoughts come to us from every side

Rig Veda


Freedom from Hunger and Rural Knowledge Food at stake....................................................................... 35

Revolution.............................................................................. 5 Brinda Karat
M S Swaminathan Public distribution system and social
interview Right to food............................................... 8 exclusion.................................................................................. 40
Madhura Swaminathan
The Shadow of Food insecurity................................. 10
V M Rao Woes and Worries of Public Distribution
System...................................................................................... 44
food crisis............................................................................. 13 Manoj Kumar Mishra
Surinder Sud
Food Security in the Post Globalization Milieu........................... 48
Global Food Security and India................................ 16 L P Singh
Suresh Chandra Babu
Facing the Wheat Crisis.................................................. 19 Development........................................................................ 51
Madan Sabnavis Child Malnutrition and ICDS...................................... 54
Not a Grain to spare......................................................... 23 Dipa Sinha
M S Swaminathan Need for research............................................................ 58
The Real Food Problem................................................... 25 Norman E Borlaug
Amartya Sen Role of Women.................................................................... 60
A Crippling Indifference................................................ 27 Sumita Acharya
Ashok Mitra Hrusikesh Patro
Importing food insecurity .......................................... 29 Ranjan Kumar Tarai
Devinder Sharma J&K Window ........................................................................ 62
do you know ? What is pds......................................... 31 In the News ......................................................................... 64

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YOJANA July 2008 1

economic indicators
ANNUAL INDICATORS Units 2000-01 2001-02 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09
Population (as on 1 Oct) in crores 101.9 103.8 105.5 107.3 109 111 112.2 113.7 115.2
GDP at current market prices (new series) Rs.crore 2102314 2278952 2454561 2754621 3149412 3580344 4145810 4713148 -
GDP:Per Capita (current prices) Rupees 20,632 21,976 23,299 25,773 28,684 32,224 36,771 - -
Gross domestic savings (current prices) % of GDPmp 23.7 23.5 26.4 29.8 31.8 34.3 34.8 - -
Gross domestic capital formation (cur. pr) “ 24.3 22.8 25.2 28.2 32.2 35.5 35.9 - -
Central Govt. Gross Fiscal Deficit “ 5.7 6.2 5.9 4.5 4.0 4.1 3.4 3.1 2.5
Sectoral shares (of GDPfc at current prices)
Agriculture & allied % of GDPfc 23.4 23.2 20.9 21.0 19.2 18.8 18.3 17.8 -
Industry “ 26.2 25.3 26.5 26.2 28.2 28.8 29.3 29.4 -
Services “ 50.5 51.5 52.7 52.8 52.6 52.4 52.4 52.8 -
Prices (Annual Average)
WPI of All commodities (wt 100.00) Apr 155.7 161.3 166.8 175.9 187.2 195.5 206.1 215.7 -
CPI-IW General index: India Jul 2001=100 95.93 100.07 104.05 108.07 112.2 117.2 125.0 132.75 -
Agriculture: Production
Foodgrains mln. tns. 196.8 212.9 174.8 213.2 198.4 208.6 217.3 227.3 228.8
Cereals “ 185.7 199.5 163.7 198.3 185.2 195.2 203.1 212.1 213.4
Rice “ 85.0 93.3 71.8 88.5 83.1 91.8 93.4 95.7 96.0
Wheat “ 69.7 72.8 65.8 72.2 68.6 69.4 75.8 76.8 77.0
Pulses “ 11.1 13.4 11.1 14.9 13.1 13.4 14.2 15.2 15.4
Oilseeds “ 18.4 20.7 14.8 25.2 24.4 28.0 24.3 28.2 29.3
Sugar cane “ 296.0 297.2 287.4 233.9 237.1 281.2 355.5 344.2 350.0
Industry & Energy
“Index of industrial production (wt 100) 162.69 166.99 176.64 188.97 204.8 221.52 247.05 267.16 -
(Annual Average)” Apr 1993=100
% change 5.06 2.64 5.78 6.98 8.37 8.16 11.53 8.14 -
Commercial energy production MTOE # 230.9 237.9 246.9 259.2 272.0 283.83 298.55 73.45 -
Electricity generation by public utilities bln. kwh 501.2 517.4 532.7 565.1 594.5 617.5 662.5 704.5 -
External Transactions
Exports US $ mln. 44147 43958 52823 63886 83502 103075 126276 155435 -
Imports “ 50056 51567 61533 78203 111472 149144 185624 235868 -
Forex reserves ^ “ 39554 51049 71890 107448 135571 145108 191924 299147 -
Foreign direct investments in India (net) “ 4031 6125 5036 4322 5987 8901.0 21991 - -
Portfolio investments in India (net) “ 2760 2021 979 11356 9311 12494 7004 - -
Rupee exchange rate (Annual Average) Rs / USD 45.61 47.55 48.30 45.92 44.95 44.28 45.29 40.24 -

Indicators: Monthly Units Feb- Mar- Apr- May- Jun- Jul- Aug- Sep- Oct- Nov- Dec- Jan- Feb- Mar- Apr- May-
07 07 07 07 07 07 07 07 07 07 07 08 08 08 08 08


“Wholesale price index 1993-94= 100 208.9 209.8 211.5 212.3 212.3 213.6 213.8 215.1 215.2 215.9 216.4 218.2 219.9 225.5 227.2
(All Commodities)”
% change 6.3 6.6 6.3 5.5 4.5 4.7 4.1 3.5 3.1 3.3 3.8 4.5 5.3 7.5 7.41


Actual rainfall (All-India) Millimetres 30 32 27 48 153 259 299 194 75 14 16 19 19 32 37 38

Dev. from normal rainfall Per cent 32 14 -20 -31 8 0 -2 14 -22 -49 1 -19 -14 21 -15 -31

Stock of Rice (Central pool) mln. tns. 14.0 13.2 13.5 12.6 10.6 6.7 10.7 10.1 11.2 13.5 -

Stock of Wheat (-do-) mln. tns. 5.1 4.6 11.6 13.3 12.8 10.9 9.0 8.4 7.4 5.5 - - - -

Investments (CMIE CapEx database) Mar ‘01 Mar ‘02 Mar ‘03 Mar ‘04 Mar ‘05 Mar ‘06 Mar ‘07 Mar ‘08

Investments (CMIE CapEx database) Rs.crore 1,403,025 1,486,938 1,382,122 1,503,040 1,931,500 2,761,339 4,293,108 6,118,218
“Project investments
outstanding* (as on)” project count 4,328 5,805 6,942 8,835 9,434 9,688 12,281 14,501

Note: (a) % change is year on year (y-o-y) basis; (b) # MTOE: Million Tonnes of Oil Equivalent; (c) ^ Total value of foreign currencies held by Govt. of India (excl. gold & SDRs); (d) * It is the sum
total of the project costs of all the outstanding (Live) capital expenditure projects happening in the country. These projects may be under announced or under-implementation stage.

Source: i3 (i-cube) at Planning Commission, New Delhi, Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE)

2 YOJANA July 2008

About the Issue
Feed India

ood security is access to enough food by all people at all time for an active and
healthy life. In the past concerted efforts were made to achieve food security by
increasing food grain production, thanks to impact of green revolution, though
it was limited to same crops and that too in limited States. To ensure easy access to
food at household level, government monopolised grain management and subsidized
food grains. Paradoxically, India attained national food self-sufficiency 35 years ago,
yet about 35% of its population remains food insecure. Low incomes and high food
prices prevent individual food security. Another aspect of India’s food security situation
is that after over three decades of operation, Public Distribution System (PDS) meets
less than 10% of consumption of PDS grains – rice and wheat - by the poor.
At the global level, a poor harvest coupled with rising demand has led to an overall increase in food prices.
Unfavourable weather conditions in parts of Europe and North Africa, together with worst ever drought in Australia,
have put stocks of major food crops, especially wheat, at record low levels. Tight supply pushed up the prices of
wheat to unprecedented heights, significantly affecting food inflation across the world including India.
Surging foodgrain prices and worsening global supplies are now bringing the domestic food crisis to the
boil. The crisis has been building up for sometime. The food grains yields of Indian farmers are not going up.
Grain output has been stagnating for over a decade and there is a growing gap between supply and demand
Attaining long-term food security requires the raising of incomes and making food affordable. To ensure
food security for the vulnerable section of the society, a multi-pronged strategy is to be evolved. To begin
with, all the existing social safety-net programmes need amalgamation and should focus on vulnerable and
underprivileged regions and groups. The existing anti-poverty programmes may be made more transparent with
better governance that minimizes leakages and benefits the poorest of poor. Landless poor and underprivileged
population in rural and urban areas are likely to benefit from such programmes. Simultaneously, agriculture
needs to be reformed by improving incentives, increasing investment etc. so that production of traditional
and high-value commodities can be increased.
Unfortunately, agriculture is in the grip of poor performance. Traditional sources of augmenting income
are ceasing. Production environment is changing, it is now dominated by small holders. With the shrinking
land holdings, their sustainability and viability can not rely solely on production of food grains. To augment
their income, small holders need to diversify their production and crops.

YOJANA July 2008 3

4 YOJANA July 2008
food first view point

Freedom from Hunger and

Rural Knowledge Revolution
M S Swaminathan

n the eve of the 50th Unfortunately, the progress made
anniversary of India’s since 1997 in the elimination of child,
independence on August maternal and adult malnutrition as
14-15, 1997, the then well as in improving our rank in the
President Shri K R UN Human Development Index has
Narayanan listed our
been poor in relation to our capacity
adherence to a democratic system
of governance and our launching a to achieve them. It will therefore be
green revolution in agriculture as the worthwhile to review briefly where
two most important achievements of we are today.
the first 50 years of what Jawaharlal
Mission 2007 : A Hunger-free
Nehru christened as, “India’s tryst
with destiny”. At a Consultation India:
held at the M S Swaminathan Over two hundred million
Research Foundation in Chennai at
children, women and men go to bed
the beginning of the new century,
This is the it was proposed that two major now partially hungry. Jointly with
the World Food Programme, MSSRF
goals for the 60th anniversary
pathway to achieving commemoration should be a hunger- scientists have analysed the causes
free India on the lines proposed for the persistence of widespread
sustainable food and by Mahatma Gandhi in 1946 at chronic hunger and presented the
Naokhali, and accelerated progress available information in two Atlases
nutrition security in human resource development
through a knowledge revolution
relating to food insecurity in rural
and urban India. These Atlases
and thereby the in rural India. Based on a series
of consultations, two Missions provided valuable guidelines for
first among the – 2007 were launched through
multi-stakeholder consortia, one
the preparation of a road map for
the elimination of chronic, hidden
UN Millennium for eliminating chronic under- and
mal-nutrition, and the other for
and transient hunger and resulted in
the development of the following
Development Goals rural knowledge connectivity. seven point action plan. This plan
The author is M.P. (Rajya Sabha) and Chairman, MSS Research Foundation.

YOJANA July 2008 5

whose major components are farming systems and improved to achieving universal nutrition
described below was developed on post-harvest technology. security as soon as possible.
considerations of both affordability Unfortunately, an integrated
l Introduce a Food Guarantee Act
and ease of implementation. strategy is yet to be put in place
combining the features of Food
with the result that the goal of a
l Restructure the delivery of ongoing for Work and Rural Employment
hunger-free India is no where near
nutrition support programmes on Guarantee Programmes; the use
a life cycle basis. of food as currency benefits both
farmers and urban consumers, A Knowledge Centre
l Universalise the Public since farmers will produce more
Distribution System (PDS) and if consumption is improved. In The second Mission 2007
enlarge the composition of the addition, household nutrition relates to the knowledge and skill
Food Basket by including a security is strengthened. empowerment of rural families
wide range of nutritious cereals, with the help of Information and
millets, grain legumes and tubers While releasing the Food Communication Technology (ICT).
based on local preferences. Insecurity Atlas of Rural India at Mission 2007 : Every Village a
New Delhi on 21 April 2001, the Knowledge Centre stimulated
l Introduce a food cum fortification former Prime Minister of India, Shri developments such as the
approach for eliminating iron, Atal Bihari Vajpaye commended the following:
iodine, zinc and Vitamin A goal of Mission 2007–Hunger-free
deficiencies and accord priority India in the following words, l The Indian Space Research
to overcoming chronic and Organisation (ISRO) launched
“Democracy and hunger cannot a Village Resource Centre
hidden hunger in pregnant
go together. A hungry stomach programme at the Block level
women, and in children in the questions and censures the system’s
0-2 age. Eliminating pre-natal involving satellite connectivity
failure to meet what is a basic and teleconferencing facilities.
malnutrition in women is essential biological need of every human being.
to minimize the incidence of low There can be no place for hunger l The Department of Information
birth weight babies. and poverty in a modern world in Technology, Government of
l Promote the organization of which science and technology have India, launched a Common
created conditions for abundance Service Centre (CSC)
Community Grain and Water
and equitable development. programme designed to cover
Banks by local communities
100,000 villages.
with the Gram Sabhas providing The sacred mission of a “Hunger-
social oversight, and promote the free India” needs the cooperative l The Ministry of Panchayati Raj,
concept, “store food grains and efforts of the Central and State Government of India, decided to
drinking water in every village”. Governments, local self-government provide to each Panchayat the
bodies, non-governmental necessary ICT infrastructure to
l Pay particular attention to safe
organizations, international agencies, enable them to participate in the
drinking water, primary health care e-Governance programme.
and above all, our citizens. We can
and nutrition education, thereby
indeed banish hunger from our country l ITC Ltd decided to expand its
achieving synergy between food
in a short time. Let us resolve today e-chaupal programme in order
and non-food factors.
to make this Mission substantially to cover 50,000 villages
l Enhance opportunities for on- successful by 2007, which will
farm and non-farm employment mark the sixtieth anniversary of our l MSSRF has organized so far our
through the biovillage model of independence”. 100 VKCs and VRCs.
human centred development, The National Commission on l Many State Governments, public
and improve the productivity Farmers also endorsed the above and private sector companies,
and profitability of small farms strategy for achieving sustainable Academic and financial
(small farm families constitute nutrition security. The Common Institutions and NGOs have
over 50% of India’s population) Minimum Programme of the UPA organized VKCs in different
through integrated crop-livestock Government contains a commitment parts of the country.

6 YOJANA July 2008

Thus, Mission 2007 has will be based on the following National Horticulture Mission,
triggered a national tele-centre organizational structure. National Rural Employment
movement for bridging the urban- Guarantee Programme, etc.
l Every Block will have a Village
rural digital divide and for ensuring
Resource Centre with the help of In order to accelerate progress in
knowledge connectivity in areas
ISRO reaching the unreached in terms of
relevant to the day to day life and
l Every Panchayat will have relevant information and services in
livelihood of rural families. The
a Gyan Chaupal or Village retail trade in fruits, vegetables and
Government of India has included
Knowledge Centre with the help grains as well as on methods of safe
knowledge connectivity as an
of the Department of Information handling, packaging and marketing,
important component of Bharat
Te c h n o l o g y, M i n i s t r y o f a Quality Literacy Movement based
Nirman or a New Deal for Rural
Panchayati Raj, Civil Society on Codex Alimentarius standards
Organisations, NABARD and of food safety is being launched
A National Alliance has been financial institutions, multilateral in association with the Central
formed for Mission 2007 – a broad donors, the academic and Food Technological Research
based coalition of government, non- private sectors and bilateral and Institute, Mysore. GGA will launch
government, academic and business multilateral donors. a Knowledge on the Wheels
sectors committed to the cause Programme for the provision of
l The last mile and last person
of taking ICT to all the 600,000 services relevant to rural livelihoods.
connectivity will be achieved
villages of India. In addition, with the To start with, soil healthcare, water
through combinations of internet
generous assistance of Tata Trusts, conservation and management, eye
and community radio, and internet
MSSRF has established a Jamsetji care and post harvest technology
and the cell phone. For example,
Tata National Virtual Academy fishermen in catamarans will will be covered with mobile vans
for Rural Prosperity (NVA) and a be guided through cell phones designed by eminent institutions
Jamsetji Tata Training School. The on wave heights and location of like Sankara Netralaya in the case
NVA has currently 985 Fellows from fish shoals. of eye care.
India and 25 Foreign Fellows drawn
While connectivity can be As a single step, the Rural
from the Afghanistan, Philippines,
achieved, content creation and Knowledge Revolution is likely to
Sri Lanka, Kenya, Nepal and Nigeria.
capacity building will be the greatest have the largest beneficial impact on
These grassroot Academicians are the
challenges. The content has to be the physical, economic and social
torch bearers of the rural knowledge
dynamic, demand driven, locale well being of the over 700 million
specific and in local languages. people living in villages. Poverty
From August 15, 2007, Mission Pathways of achieving food and will persist under conditions where
2007 programme has developed nutrition security should find a the human resource is under-valued
into a Grameen Gyaan Abhiyan prominent place in the content and material resources are over-
(GGA) a national movement for generated for the VKCs. valued. Once GGA spreads, there
knowledge empowerment of rural will be a perceptible impact on
A major role of the Grameen
families. It is hoped that by 2010, the parameters governing human
Gyaan Abhiyan movement will
the Grameen Gyaan Abhiyan will resource development. This in turn
be the establishment of linkages
cover every village and home or will lead to a paradigm shift from
between scientific know-how
hut in the country. unskilled to skilled work in villages.
and field level do-how. For this
This is the pathway to achieving
The Green Revolution helped to purpose, VRCs and VKCs will
sustainable food and nutrition security
increase the productivity of crops have to be intimately linked with
and thereby the first among the UN
like wheat and rice. The Knowledge appropriate programmes such as
Sarva Siksha Abhiyan for literacy, Millennium Development Goals,
Revolution, on the other hand, helps
Yuva and Mahila Sakthi Abhiyans namely the eradication of hunger and
to enhance human productivity and
of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, poverty. q
creativity in several dimensions.
Grameen Gyaan Abhiyan National Rural Health Mission, (Email :

YOJANA July 2008 7

food first interview

Right to food

ean Dreze is one of the leading development Economist in India. He has made seminal contributions to
the discourse on hunger and public action and has co-authored several books with Nobel laureate Prof
Amartya Sen. He is an Honorary Professor at the Delhi School of Economics and Visiting Professor at
Allahabad University. Dreze is an Indian citizen of Belgian origin. He has travelled extensively across India
over the past three decades and is associated with several campaigns for economic and social rights. He was
a member of the support group that initiated the Right to Food Campaign and is widely acknowledged as
one of the architects of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. He has also been a key figure in the
Right to Information Campaign.

Biraj Patnaik is the Principal Adviser to the Commissioners to the Supreme Court in the Right to Food Case.
This interview is adapted from an earlier conversation for Infochange Agenda.

It is now several years since the Right to Food Campaign was launched. What would you count as the
most significant achievements of the campaign?

JD I am not sure what counts as an “achievement of the campaign”. On almost every important issue, the
campaign has been part of a larger process of democratic practice. For instance, is the Employment
Guarantee Act an achievement of the campaign? Well, the campaign certainly played a major role in
putting this issue on the political agenda, as well as in drafting the Act. But many other actors also
played a crucial role: the Left parties, the National Advisory Council, the trade unions, and so on. There
is no point in trying to apportion the credit. Having said this, I think that major issues on which the
campaign made a useful contribution include employment guarantee, mid-day meals, social security,
and more recently, the universalisation of nutrition and health services for children under the age of

While the right to food has been an important area of work for decades for many trade unions, activists
and civil society organisations, the present RTF campaign has its roots in the PUCL petition in the
Supreme Court. Do you think that the campaign has now grown beyond the issues that are being raised
and debated in the SC and become more rooted in local action?
JD I think that the campaign has certainly outgrown the court case. Of course, the Supreme Court orders
did give the campaign a much-needed tool for action on many issues. For instance, I doubt that mid-day
meals would ever have been introduced in primary schools without the intervention of the Court. But
there have also been important achievements on issues that go beyond the court case. The most obvious
example is the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. This has been a major focus of the campaign
for the last few years, even though it has little to do with the court case.

8 YOJANA July 2008

Many activists believe that the right to food is a political problem that will lend itself to a political
solution and that the law may not be enough to secure the right. This can also be derived from your
work on famines with Prof Sen, which reasserts the importance of local action in securing rights. Are
you satisfied with civil society’s level of engagement outside the legal framework?

JD Firstly, I think that this contrast between politics and the law is a little misleading. The legal
system is one of the democratic institutions that can be used to assert the right to food, or for that
matter other economic and social rights. There are others – electoral politics, public debate,
media advocacy, street action, and more. So I see legal action as an integral part of democratic
politics. As far as civil society’s “level of engagement outside the legal framework” is concerned,
I am not sure what the relevant yardstick is. But I certainly feel that we are making poor use of
this country’s vast opportunities for effective social action.
Many people argue that the focus on schemes and legal action does not adequately address structural
issues of poverty like land reforms and forest rights and underplays caste and gender dynamics, which
are the root causes of persistent hunger. How would you react to that?

JD Legal action does not exclude “structural issues” as you call them. Land reforms and forest rights, for
example, certainly have important legal dimensions. What is true is that legal action has its limits. In
fact, I am quite disillusioned myself with the legal system. The Supreme Court of India has become an
unaccountable centre of power, which brazenly uses its authority to “legislate at random in all directions”,
as Kropotkin described the lawyers of his time. But while it is important to be aware of the limits of
legal action, shunning it altogether would be a mistake. What is important is to supplement legal action
with other forms of public action. That is what the campaign is all about.
You have made significant contributions to a number of national campaigns. But the interface between
various campaigns and groups is decreasing. Has the RTF campaign been able to create a more inclusive
platform? How can the campaign draw in more networks and groups?

JD I have not noticed any decreasing interface. In this kind of broad-based, informal movement, the patterns
of association between different groups are bound to change over time. Perhaps some of these bonds are
weakening, but I am sure that others are getting stronger. For instance, strong links are emerging between
organisations working on the right to information and the right to work, and similarly between activists
concerned with the right to food and the right to work. As for creating inclusive platforms that work, I think
that this is the holy grail of social action in India, or for that matter anywhere. The search continues.
One of your strengths has been your ability to mobilise young people to volunteer for campaigns you
have been associated with. Would you agree with the perception that there is a decline in the number
of young people willing to participate in political action, especially on an issue like the right to food
which affects some of the poorest sections of Indian society?

JD I don’t know if such a decline is taking place. But if it is, the main reason is that we fail to present
young people with opportunities to participate in effective forms of political action on these issues. In
my experience, there is a vast reservoir of latent energy, imagination and commitment among young
people, waiting to be tapped. For instance, you would be surprised to see how many students are willing
to take part in field surveys during the summer months, without remuneration, even in very difficult
conditions – just to make a difference. This experience often has a lasting influence on their values
and priorities. But how often do they get a chance to do something like this? q

YOJANA July 2008 9

food first perspective

The Shadow of Food Insecurity

V M Rao

fter over t h r e e a reduction in the first part of the
decades of relatively period (1990-92 to 1995-97) was
comfortable production subsequently reversed”. According
and availability of food to FAO, in 2001-03, India had 212
grains, India once again million undernourished which
seems to be sliding back was much higher than the MDG
to those humiliating days of mid- (Millennium Development Goals
1960s when the country was living of United Nations) target.
from “ship to mouth” on imported
wheat obtained as aid from USA. A report released by a US-based
The country is still away from group says South Asia continues to
that point but the steps it is taking face “critical” levels of hunger. The
are indeed in that direction. The report says the current hot spots of
prospects which are grim stand hunger and under-nutrition are in
out clearly in some of the recent South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
But India assessments by UN agencies and
While there have been dramatic
improvements in South Asia, the
foreign observers.
has certainly report says the region remains
The latest report of Food and “an area of great concern”. The
a good Agriculture Organisation (The Institute studied 119 countries for
State of Food Security in the World, its research and the index ranked
chance to 2006) laments that during the period countries on a 100-point scale,
do that if only 1990-92 to 2001-03 “Significant
progress in reducing the number of
with zero being the best score (no
hunger) and 100 being the worst.
it tries with undernourished people was made in
China and the populous sub-region
India and most other South Asian
countries score in the region of
earnestness of Southeast Asia. In India, on 20 plus and are categorised in the
the other hand, the prevalence of group in which the food security
and hunger declined, but the outcome situation is “alarming”. “In India
in terms of reducing the number and Bangladesh, high rates of child
determination of undernourished was small as malnutrition are the main reason
The author is with the Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore.

10 YOJANA July 2008

for the high Global Hunger Index economy. It also spills over in urban noticeable reduction in BPL
value,” says the report. areas as vast and dehumanising numbers, accelerated agricultural
slums. growth which continued for almost
We have purposely presented two decades with wide coverage
the indicators of under-nourishment In our view, it is of utmost
of areas, crops and farmer groups
and malnutrition as they capture the importance at the present juncture
much beyond the initial coverage
human dimension of food security to view food insecurity suffered
by green revolution and, above all,
much better than the dumb statistics by the rural and urban poor as
enhanced dignity of India in the
of foodgrain production and PDS an outcome of India’s largely
comity of nations and increased
procurement of foodgrains and infructuous attempts so far to raise
capacity of the country to counter
distribution. It is the neglect of the levels of human development.
the political pressures from the
the human dimension which is at India finds itself repeatedly in
big powers. It is sad that over the
the root of the emerging crisis in recent years in the lowest one-
years the Green Revolution period
food security. The period since the third of countries ranked by HDI
has come to be identified with only
early 1990s presents many tell-tale (Human Development Index) of
the achievement of self-sufficiency
symptoms of the spreading malaise UNDP. It is our submission that
in food which from hindsight
of food insecurity. Growth rate in viewing food insecurity in isolation
looks too modest an achievement
agricultural production was slowing leads to ad hoc fire-fighting types
to boast about. Green Revolution
down. PDS worked well in relatively of measures which papers over the
was, in fact, a model of successful
better- off states like Kerala and symptoms without going to the
development planning with a
Andhra Pradesh but was virtually roots of the problem. Considering
carefully designed combination of
non-existent in hardcore poverty food insecurity as a part of the
programmes supported by strong
areas like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh problem of low human development
political commitment at the highest
and Madhya Pradesh. The broader would ensure that India has its sight
socio-economic context was marked level and implemented by line
focused on the objective of bringing
by powerful poverty-generating departments with an admirable
about enduring improvement in
processes like growing landlessness drive and capacity to work as a
food security rather than hastily
in villages, casualisation of rural cohesive team.
implemented measures providing
labour and proliferation of small only temporary relief. To see why Over the years India has slipped
and marginal holdings with severe this is important, one should go back back again into the old line-
constraints in raising agricultural to that glorious Green Revolution department culture of top-down
productivity and growth. These chapter in India’s development. approach, pursuit of expenditure and

processes operated along with coverage targets with little concern
weak rural programmes for supply n response to the looming food
about benefits delivered to the poor
of safe drinking water in adequate crisis of the mid-1960s, Indira
and lack of co-ordination with other
quantities, improved rural sanitation, Gandhi and her dedicated team
departments.As a result, programmes
provision of houses to the rural worked out a holistic strategy based
routinely report achievement of
poor etc. The result was growing on combining programmes dealing
targets but the conditions of the
development gap between what have with all the major development
poor show little improvement.
been described in media as India dimensions-introducing miracle
and Bharat. Today, there are indeed seeds from abroad, adaptive research The signs of crisis in food
three entities-the shining India of and extension to nurture them in security could prove to be an
urban elites, Bharat of emerging the field, coordinated supply of opportunity to make an enduring
rural elites and the rural poor. The modern inputs, price and marketing improvement in food security if
last entity is numerically the largest, support, bank credit for agriculture, it triggers a change from the line-
suffers from multiple deprivations employment programmes for the department type of development
including food insecurity and poor, making the small and marginal planning to the Green Revolution
abysmal levels of health, nutrition, farmers viable and programmes to type. Prime Minister Manmohan
sanitation and housing. Their poverty meet the minimum basic needs. The Singh and his colleagues have
gets perpetuated over time due to outcome was a grand synergistic excellent credentials to emulate
weak access to education, skills, success-unprecedented growth in Indira Gandhi. In fact, the current
assets and productive livelihoods rice and wheat, a wide range of context is marked by several
in a globalising and liberalising poverty alleviation programmes, positive factors as compared to

YOJANA July 2008 11

the conditions in which Green Revolution was
born. The Panchayati Raj institutions have now
a constitutional status and the recently launched
National Rural Employment Guarantee programme
has assigned a leading role to them in identifying
the poor and in making them participants in
the programme. Mission mode for designing
and implementing programmes, e-governance,
Right to Information, Public Interest Litigations,
growing role of NGOs, activists and civil society
groups in supporting and mobilising the poor
and proactive judiciary are some of the notable
recent changes providing a congenial setting for
the Green Revolution approach to development
planning. There are also positive factors capable
of directly contributing to improvements in food
security if only policy makers are alert enough
to make effective use of them. India now has an
impressive body of research and experiences to
promote growth and development of rain-fed
agriculture which accounts for nearly two-thirds
of cultivated land. This is also true of value
addition and export of value-added products. Self
Help Groups which have an impressive record
in empowering women can prove in the coming
decades to be a life-saver for the small and marginal
farmers by strengthening their capacity to deal
with government officials, banks, traders etc. and
to undertake-IGAs (Income Generating Activities).
There are welcome move towards decentralisation
of Public Distribution System and inclusion in
them of local staples which the poor consume. All
these provide an opportunity unequalled in the
past to have institutions and procedures enabling
the poor to take care of their own food security.
Indira Gandhi worked tirelessly to help a famine-
prone country to achieve self-sufficiency in foodgrains.
It is time India takes the next step of ensuring food
security of the household of the poor and of the
worst victims of lack of food security viz. women
and children in these households. Professor Amartya
Sen, a strong admirer and critic of India, has been
urging India to accord high priority to elimination of
latent hunger, under-nourishment and malnutrition.
He has a theory that democracies take quick notice
of famines but not of the invisible famines which
affect many more millions than famines. It is not
easy to prove him wrong but India has certainly
a good chance to do that if only it tries with
earnestness and determination. q


12 YOJANA July 2008

food first opinion

Food Crisis

Surinder Sud

ndia is in a position (2007-08) of the Indian Council of
to increase production of Agricultural Research (ICAR) also
wheat by over 30 million points to the available exploitable
tonnes, or around 40 per production potential that can be
cent, and double paddy gainfully harnessed to boost overall
production while using grain availability.
both current levels of technology
In the case of wheat, the crop in
and well tried out agronomic
news in recent years, the productivity
practices. This can be done by
in Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar
bridging the existing gap in the Pradesh and parts of Rajasthan
actual crop yields and the potential is already very high, around 3.5
yields, within any state, or by to 4.5 tonnes a hectare, which is
narrowing them down substantially.
If yields Narrowing the yield gap across
comparable to China’s 4.25 tonnes
and better than that in the US (2.9
across states states will increase production
levels a lot more, but this article is
tonnes) and Australia (1.64 tonnes).
Yet, there is room for further
can be hiked to not talking about that. increase in wheat production in
this belt because the actual average
levels already This has been shown by various
studies based on the data recorded yield of the region as a whole still
achieved within in 2003-04 and 2004-05 on yields falls short of the obtainable level by
around 1.7 tonnes a hectare.
realised with improved agronomic
the state, as they practices and the existing actual Indeed, the differences in the
average yields in different states.
can with extension The results have been quoted by the
present average wheat yields
and those that can be had with
services, wheat National Development Council’s
sub-committee on agriculture and
improved practices vary from 6
per cent in Punjab to a whopping
output can rise related issues in its report presented
to the Planning Commission in
50 per cent in UP, the state with
the largest area under this crop
by 40% May 2007. The Annual Report in the country. UP alone, with

The author is a known Agricultural Journalist.

YOJANA July 2008 13

9 million hectares under wheat, Thus, Madhya Pradesh can swell in the country has assured irrigation
can add over 12 million tonnes to the country’s wheat kitty by over 6 facilities.
the country’s total wheat output. million tonnes, Bihar by another
3.8 million tonnes and Maharashtra The difference in the actual
In Haryana, the wheat output can
be pushed up by about 20 percent by an additional 1.5 million tonnes. and obtainable yields, therefore,
and in Rajasthan, by over 40 per These three states together can ranges from 35 per cent in the
cent. provide over 11 million tonnes of rainfed (upland) fields in Jharkhand
additional wheat. to a whopping 222 per cent in the
In areas outside this key wheat irrigated tracts of Uttar Pradesh and
bowl the scope for production surge In the case of rice, the range of Bihar, which together account for
is, in fact, several times higher. In variation in the productivity is far over 20 per cent of the country’s
Madhya Pradesh, the state having wider than that in wheat because rice total paddy acreage. These two
the second largest area under wheat is grown under more diverse agro- states together can throw up
(over 4 million hectares), wheat climatic conditions. Cultivation additional 25 to 30 million tonnes
productivity can be pushed up by practices, crop varieties and other of rice every year.
over 84 per cent. Elsewhere, it can production technology vary widely
be enhanced by 100 per cent (Bihar) for different eco-systems as also for Significantly, the comparative
and much more (155 per cent in rainfed uplands, rainfed lowlands yield statistics indicate that the
Maharashtra) through better farm and irrigated fields. Only ablut 56 opportunities for scaling up rice
practices. per cent of the total paddy acreage production are the maximum in the

Ground Reality
Potential increase in production if yields within state rise to best within that state
(yield in tonnes per hectare, 2002-03 to 2004-05

State Improved Actual Yield Gap Area Possible Additional
Practice 2003-04 % tonnes/ha (mn ha) Production (mn tonne)
Uttar Pradesh 4.20 2.79 50.5 1.41 9.00 12.69
Bihar 3.65 1.78 104.8 1.87 2.03 3.79
Punjab 4.46 4.20 6.1 0.26 3.48 0.90
Haryana 4.75 3.96 19.8 0.79 2.32 1.83
Rajasthan 3.94 2.79 41.3 1.15 2.01 2.31
Gujarat 4.03 2.68 50.5 1.35 0.73 0.98
Madhya Pradesh 3.29 1.78 84.3 1.51 4.14 6.25
Maharashtra 3.41 1.33 155.5 2.08 0.76 1.58
Himachal Pradesh 2.61 1.38 89.6 1.23 0.36 0.44
West Bengal 2.76 2.31 19.4 0.45 0.40 0.18
Uttarakhand 3.38 1.87 80.5 1.51 0.39 0.58
Total 31.53

State Improved Actual Yield Gap State Improved Actual Yield Gap
Practice 2003-04 % Practice 2003-04 %
a) Rainfed (upland) rice Tripura 1.36
Chhattisgarh 3.74 1.45 1.57 Uttar Pradesh 3.65 2.18 67.2
Jharkhand 2.29 1.69 35.2 c) Irrigated Rice
Manipur 4.27 - - Chhattisgarh 3.91 1.45 169.4
Uttar Pradesh 3.62 1.94 86.4 Bihar 4.88 1.51 222.1
b) Rainfed (shallow lowland)/Boro Rice Gujarat 5.58 1.89 195.3
Assam 4.52 1.53 194.7 J&K 7.48 1.94 285.8
Chhattisgarh 3.55 1.45 144.2 Uttar Pradesh 7.05 2.18 222.4
Jharkhand 3.48 1.69 105.3 Uttaranchal 3.85 1.94 98.2

14 YOJANA July 2008

irrigated areas of most paddy-growing states, barring
Punjab and Haryana, where productivity is already
quite high. While the average paddy production can be
increased by nearly 170 per cent in the irrigated areas
of Chhattisgarh, it can be catapulted by 195 per cent
in the irrigated tracts of Gujarat.
In the case of rainfed paddy grown on elevated
lands where the rainwater does not stay in the fields for
long, improved agronomic practices can help push up
per-hectare yields by over 86 per cent in Uttar Pradesh
and 157 per cent in Chhattisgarh.
Similarly, in paddy grown on shallow lowlands and
also the “boro paddy” planted in north-eastern states,
including West Bengal and Assam, crop productivity
can be more than doubled in most places with better
farming methods. The yield gap is about 195 per cent in
Assam, 144 per cent in Chhattisgarh and 105 per cent
in Jharkhand. In Uttar Pradesh, where some lowland
unirrigated areas are planted with paddy, especially in
the eastern region, the per-hectare crop output can be
stepped up by 67 per cent.
This analysis is confined to the prospects of boosting
the output of wheat and rice by merely bridging the gulf
between high and low yields within each state. However,
if productivity levels in the laggard states can be brought
at per with or closer to those prevailing in Punjab and
Haryana, the gains can, obviously, be far higher.
But for that, several factors that have kept the crop
productivity low in the agriculturally backward areas
would bave to be addressed. Though these constraints
vary widely across states and regions, many of them
are common almost throughout the country. Significant
among them are the collapse of the state extension
agencies resulting in poor technology dispersal,
improper choice of crop varieties and non-renewal
of their seeds at short intervals, inadequate use of
manures, inefficient and imbalanced application of
fertilisers, and poor water management.
Many of these lacunae can automatically get removed
if extension services are revamped and supportive
infrastructure and services are strengthened and rendered
more efficient. However, for some odd reason, most
strategies employed recently for alleviating farmers’
distress and boosting the country’s food security focus
on credit alone. But credit availability alone is unlikely to
make a difference unless other needed measures are also
taken simultaneously. q

(Email :

YOJANA July 2008 15

food first Impact

Global Food Security

and India
Suresh Chandra Babu

ndia is one of the fastest world. The rest of the countries
growing economies in the come from Africa. According to
world. It is also the 12th FAO of the United Nations, 200
largest economy in the million people, one fourth of the
world. The fast growth world’s undernourished population,
that India has experienced live in India. About 41 percent of
in the last several years has placed the world’s underweight children
India as a key player in the global call India their home, says UN
economy. India is also poised with Hunger Taskforce. India’s children,
its enormous human capital to the future human resource capital of
attract a high level of foreign direct the country, face enormous growth
investment and likely to become challenges; 47 percent of children
one of the most powerful countries under 5 years old are underweight,
on the globe if the above trends 45% are stunted, and 16% have
continue. With its increasing role severe malnutrition (wasting). Such
in global economic development, severity of malnutrition can only be
the world is counting on India observed in famine prone countries
for achieving the Millennium where acute food insecurity is
A hunger Development Goals set by the extreme and frequent. With
United Nations for the year 2015. continuous achievement of food
free India is self sufficiency over the last three
Where does India stand in decades such global ranking begs the
not only a achieving global food security? question - what is wrong with Indian
India has achieved food self agriculture and food policies?
nation’s pride sufficiency 30 years ago through
dramatic investments in technology, Why is achieving food security
but can make a institutions, and infrastructure. Yet in India important? By reducing
India’s efforts in achieving food its own food insecurity and hungry
huge contribution security for all Indians remain population, India will make a major
unimpressive. India is the only Asian dent in achieving global food security.
to global food country other than Bangladesh and A fast developing country, such as
Yemen to be in the top 25 of 97 India, positioning itself to be one of the
security hunger affected countries in the world’s most powerful nations cannot
The author is with the International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington.

16 YOJANA July 2008

afford to have such a vast number levels of yields are largely a result While farmers growing cash crops
of food insecure and malnourished of poorly functioning agricultural can benefit from such an approach
people. Prolonged food insecurity research and extension systems. to poverty reduction, the majority
among the population of one country of farmers who are food insecure
manifests in several ways. Without National leaders and policy makers presently reside in drought prone
individual food security, a basic have recognized the need for efficient areas and may not benefit from such
entitlement, it will be long before and effective research system for a revolution. We may not achieve
India can make any progress in other delivering relevant technologies that food security for all through high
aspects of human development. will increase competitiveness of Indian value agriculture unless small and
agricultural systems by reducing cost marginal farmers are integrated with
India currently ranks 126 among
of production and using natural regional and international markets.
177 countries in the UNDP’s human
resources in a sustainable manner.
development index.
The current system of agricultural Trade can play an important role
What can be done to achieve research organized to meet the food in achieving national food security
food security for all? Food security self sufficiency needs of the sixties through appropriate policies that
depends not only on production and seventies - remains oblivious are designed to import food when
but also on policies and institutions to the fast globalization of world we are in deficient and export
that translate production into food agriculture, responds inadequately when we harvest surplus. However,
availability, access, and utilization by to the needs of smallholder farmers, achieving household food security
the population. While food production and performs poorly in applying will require higher levels of income
levels are slowly increasing, the the latest technological advances. for the 200 million people who are
productivity of food has been stalling. While reforming the system of unable to feed adequate quantity
The current food and agricultural agriculture research in India requires and quality of food.
policies are suboptimal at best to new organizational culture guided
by renewed mission and visionary India’s population continues
revive a second round of agricultural to grow and will contribute to the
revolution in India. Food security can leadership, effective use of existing
scientific pool to address pressing growth of world population which
be achieved by increasing production will be 9 billion in 2050, At the
and a combination of policies that issues through appropriate priority
setting, monitoring and evaluation global level the demand for food is
improves domestic, regional, and likely to double in this period, Food
international trade along with will be necessary.

consumed by the population will
programs that improve the quantity hile achieving higher go through enormous change in its
and quality of food consumed yield levels is a long diversity and mixture. An indication
by the population. Increasing the term process through of that is already seen in India
accessibility of food depends on focused research programs that as the middle income consumers
food prices and the income of the use resources effectively, in increasingly consume high value
population. Keeping food prices low the short run, effective social crops, such as fruits, vegetables,
and still enabling reasonable farm welfare programs could reduce livestock products, fish, and milk. Yet
income requires reduced unit cost of the severity of hunger. India has India is also home for a large number
production. several programs in place but they of people affected by micronutrient
are not implemented right either deficiency (iron, iodine, vitamin A).
Technology plays a key role in
individually or jointly. A major This hidden hunger contributes to
reducing the cost of production of challenge in reducing hunger in low human capital through reduced
commodities. The role of research the short term, is the inefficiency cognitive ability of the people, and
in increasing the productivity of of social safety net institutions. low productivity of labor. Policies
crops is crucial. For example, in Effective monitoring of the food that increase quality by fortifying
India, the yield of rice and wheat distribution systems including the food would help in reducing
has not changed in the last 10 food for work programs can aid micronutrient malnutrition.
years. The yield of rice hovers in redesigning them. Improved
around 1900kgs/hectare while the governance of these institutions at Finally, solving the problem of
yield of wheat is around 2600kgs/ all levels will help to serve those food insecurity in India requires
hectare. Unless these yield levels who are in need of food most, agro-ecological approaches. Blanket
are doubled in the next 10-15 years recommendations of technology
achieving food security through There has been an increased and policy cannot be effective in
improving the income of the rural emphasis on high value agriculture solving localized food security
masses cannot be realized. The low for a second green revolution. problems. In this context, there is a

YOJANA July 2008 17

need to revisit agricultural development strategies and
reorient them according to agro-ecological systems.
In addition to country specific challenges, several
global issues that confront world agriculture are also
relevant for achieving food security in India. Water is
becoming a major constraint for production agriculture.
While water sources are dwindling the technology
for using water efficiently in crop production lags
behind. Increasing small scale irrigation and effectively
bringing in rain-fed agriculture into assured system
of irrigated farming are crucial for increasing the
productivity of drought prone areas and protecting
the farmers from periodic distress that are currently
affecting several pockets of the country.
Given that major inputs, fertilizers and pesticides,
depend on fossil fuels and the prices of fossil fuels
are increasing, the cost of production of agriculture
would become high. Policy makers need to seriously
consider agriculture as a way to generate income
through crops that contribute to the development
of biofuels. India’s ability to negotiate in the global
agriculture trade negotiations is crucial for obtaining
markets for agriculture commodities and for managing
the globalization of agriculture trade effectively for the
benefit of poor and food insecure.
Climate variability and change are likely to affect
agriculture in India. Recent estimates show that global
warming can reduce the global GDP by 20 percent
through reduction in the productivity of crops. To what
extent such global change will affect Indian agriculture
and in turn food security remains to be seen. India is
vulnerable to new pests and diseases such as the wheat
rust that has been identified and to the transcontinental
diseases such as avian influenza. Preparing the
country to face such impending challenges, which can
reduce food security, should be a key strategy for the
agriculture sector.
India’s growth and increased importance as a key
global power could easily be disparaged if a large
section of its population remains food insecure and
hungry keeping India among the poorest nations of
the world in human development. Achieving food
security for all is possible. A national program of
coordinated action with specific goals and deadlines
are needed. While such calls have been made by
NGOs and advocacy groups, they have not been
articulated well to bring public, private, and civil
societies together to address the long term problem
of individual food security. A hunger free India is not
only a nation’s pride but can make a huge contribution
to global food security. q
(Email :

18 YOJANA July 2008

food first analysis

Facing the Wheat Crisis

Madan Sabnavis

he wheat crisis which root of the issue; and approaches
has come to the forefront towards procurement, fair price to
in the last two years has farmers and consumers, imports and
gotten entrenched in deep alternative modes of resolving these
controversy as it has gone issues are only supportive measures
beyond the realm of Economics into and not the solution.
Politics. Wheat imports has become
To set the issues involved in a clear
a ticklish subject, with the price
perspective let us try and enumerate
being paid by the government to the
and then analyze the various subjects
farmer as well as by the consumer
of controversy. The first is production
at the retail end have both become
and productivity. The second is
controversies in themselves. In
the need to provide a remunerative
2006 the grievance was that the
price to the farmer. The third is to
consumer was paying too high a
ensure that procurement targets of
More price, while in 2007 it was felt that
the government are attained. The
the farmer was not paid the right
innovative price. The blame has been passed
fourth is to explore alternative ways
of meeting the procurement in case
from one entity to another including
schemes for inept government action, private
the MSP fails to deliver.

procurement have procurement, hoarding by farmers, Tre n d s i n p ro d u c t i o n a n d

hoarding by traders and futures productivity
to be tried out to trading. At the same time we have
Table 1 provides information
not stopped to seriously think of
bridge the gap tackling the issue at the foundation
on wheat production, area under
cultivation and yield per hectare for
between demand i.e. increasing production. It is
wheat in a historical context.
unfortunate, that it has taken two
and supply wheat seasons, 2006 and 2007 to Some interesting points that
realize that we need to go to the emerge are the following:
The author is Chief Economist NCDEX Limited.

YOJANA July 2008 19

l The maximum increase in area technology or in this case better to grow by at least the population
under cultivation took place in use of inputs. growth rate which is around 1%.
the sixties (41%) followed by Even at this conservative rate,
The result of these two
seventies (23%). However, after production needs to continuously
observations can be explained in increase to 83 mn tonnes in the
1971, there was a slowdown
the last column where the yield next decade. Now, production
in growth to just around 8.5%
numbers have been given. While movements have been cyclical
in the succeeding two decades yield rose by around 500 kgs per
after which the increase was hectare every decade, it has again on an annual basis and unless the
just over 1% in the last 5 years. stagnated in the last five years. The fundamentals are tackled, this may
There has definitely hence been impact of the Green Revolution in not be achievable. The second
source of increasing demand is the
a loss of emphasis on increasing the sixties and seventies is really
changing consumption patterns
the area under cultivation. A quite over and given that the pricing
that are discernible in the country.
part of the explanation could of wheat has been a messy subject,
Processed wheat products are on
lie in the general disinterest it will not be surprising if farmers
the rise and their consumption
in agriculture with industry shift their cultivation patterns is spreading fast into rural areas
and services providing better away from wheat, which may as well as the traditionally non-
avenues of income. This is not be an ideal proposition. The wheat consuming
a major problem Table 1: Wheat Statistics states. Progressive
because unless Year Area under cultivation: Production Yield/hectare urbanization and the
wheat is made an mn hectares Mn tonnes in kgs imbibing of western
attractive crop 1960-61 12.9 11.0 851 tastes and habits
for farmers, it 1970-71 18.2 23.8 1307 will shift demand
will be difficult 1980-81 more towards the
22.3 36.3 1630
to reverse this consumption of
1990-91 24.2 55.1 2281
trend. Also some wheat in future.
2000-01 26.3 69.7 2778 While this trend is
degree of crop
2005-06 26.6 69.5 2607 emerging, the fact
substitution has
Source: Economic Survey/RBI Annual Report that it is growing
also taken place
to commercial crops which does sound a
government has to support wheat warning signal for appropriate
have affected at the margin
at the cropping stage by helping to action.
the increase in area under
increase productivity by supplying
cultivation. On the other hand the fact that
better quality of seeds and develop
even globally there has been a
l The production figures illustrate new strains too which will enhance
growing tendency for cultivation
quite clearly the classic law of yields. Today, given the conditions to shift to products like maize,
diminishing returns over time of limited land being available soybean and cane for generating
on the limited land that is used for cultivation as well as issues bio-fuels could in the medium
for cultivation. While production on the wheat level, it is a major term make traditional cropping less
increased by 115% in the first challenge to keep this growing attractive. Hence, it is essential to
decade and over 50% in the next given the increasing demand. More definitely concentrate heavily on
two decades, it slowed down to importantly it is essential to also restarting the Green Revolution to
just over 25% in the nineties promote market related pricing for ensure self sufficiency in wheat.
this crop.
with stagnation being seen in
Providing the right price to the
the last five years. Quite clearly The higher demand is emanating
there is pressing need to reverse from two factors. The first is from
this process, which the textbook the growing population, where Given the delicate situation of
says can be overcome through wheat being a staple crop will need the production pattern of wheat,

20 YOJANA July 2008

one of the pre-requisites of higher fixing the MSP should be separated same as the government can never
production in future is the imperative from the procurement plans of the be sure about the quantity of wheat
to provide the right price to the government which has to be tackled that would be offered to it. Table 2
farmer. Today it is provided by the in a different manner. below gives an interesting picture
MSP of the government which is of the procurement of wheat in the
Government procurement
administered through the FCI. This last few years and also captures the
is the base minimum price that the The government needs to share of production that is being
farmer will get for sure, but he has procure a certain quantity of wheat procured PPP).
the right to sell it anywhere else he to meet its own commitment of
wishes in case the price is higher. creating and maintaining a buffer Table 2 provides a confusing
Intuitively it can be seen that the stock as well as running its Public picture. What is clear is that
MSP sets the tone for market prices. Distribution Programme (PDS) and procurement as a proportion of
The MSP is calculated by the CACP employment generation schemes. production (PPP) has definitely
with a scientific formula which Today the government needs to come down over time and the
takes into account several factors. government is not able to procure
The formula has to be enough wheat. However,
Table 2 Procurement of Wheat the pattern is unclear.
fine tuned to include Year Production Procurement Procurement Higher production does not
the overall market mn t mn t as a proportion
conditions as the crop necessarily translate into
of production
prospects are known as (PPP) (%) higher procurement which
the farmers would like to 2000-01 76.4 16.4 21.4 should logically be the case
receive the higher price 2001-02 69.7 20.6 29.5
as prices must be falling in
in case it is warranted. those periods which should
2002-03 72.8 19.0 24.9
This way the farmer make the MSP attractive.
2003-04 65.8 15.8 24.0
should actually face a And in the last two years
2004-05 72.2 16.8 23.3
dynamic MSP which PPP has fallen sharply.
2005-06 68.6 14.8 21.6
though announced in the The environment in the
2006-07 69.4 9.2 13.2
month of November or last 2 years has changed
2007-08 74.9 11.1 14.8 quite dramatically with
December would serve Source: Economic Survey and FCI website
as the base with upward the markets becoming
revisions in case the more open and private
get in 15 mn tonnes of wheat players offering better prices.
market conditions so indicate.
every year, and for this the price Also futures trading have been
The basic issue here is that the paid which is the MSP, should in operation making market price
farmer should have access to the not really matter. The physical discovery more efficient as well
market price too and be able to procurement is necessary for as transparent. The message is
sell it at that price. If there are two which the government should be quite clear. The government needs
prices, then the farmer in an area prepared to pay a market oriented to strengthen its procurement
which does not have access to the price. Hence to begin with there is efforts. The reach of the FCI has
market will feel he has gotten a raw need to separate the price support to spread to include more regions
deal. By having a dynamic MSP, to farmers from the procurement so that more farmers are covered.
all the farmers would virtually be objective. Also while the MSP This may take care of the physical
brought on par. The MSP initially programme would provide stocks aspect of procurement. But, the
announced would only be the floor for this programme, it should price issue would still remain as
price paid to protect the farmer in not be the single source of wheat it needs to be perceived as being
case production is in surplus. But, supplies. It is necessary to explore right for the farmers to sell to the
more importantly, this objective of alternative mechanisms for the government. There is evidently

YOJANA July 2008 21

need to explore other options for the government imports wheat at the government can reduce the
public procurement. a price which is higher than that quantity of imports.
paid to the farmers. This is but
Alternative procurement options Decentralization of the PDS
natural because wheat is imported
Use of private players only if the domestic market is Decentralization of the
If private players are paying a not able to yield the physical PDS is another option open to
higher price, then so should the FCI produce. Therefore, there will be the government where the state
for these operations. Therefore, it a third tier of wheat procurement governments can call for tenders
should buy from the private players which will be the last option. for direct supplies of wheat from
or have agents who will do so. The The first is through the MSP private parties and the lowest bidder
problem here is that there will be a which in turn is aligned to the would get the deal. The cost incurred
conflict with the MSP because some market. The second is through could be transferred from the centre
farmers will get the MSP while private parties which would be at to the state and hence the state
those who come in late will get a a later date and at a higher price. budgets would not be affected. This
higher price and the government The last will be through imports will make it more efficient and also
would be charged for bring down the pressure
unequal price rewards. on the centre to procure
But, this will be more wheat, which will now
palatable than the other be restricted to only
option, i.e. imports. maintaining a buffer.
Use of futures
The approach
towards the issues
This may be surrounding wheat
theoretical today given needs to be revisited and
that wheat is on the the various objectives
banned list and even rebalanced to ensure
if it were lifted, the that the processes are
market may not be smoothened and that
prepared to handle the an optimal solution is
quantities that we are reached. This is critical
talking of. But, futures trading can where a third price is being used.
as it is also politically sensitive as
help the government in two ways. The government could do two
the last two years have raised some
Hypothetically, it can physically things here. The first is to buy
awkward contradictions which
procure in a mature market at a when it is required and run into
can be eschewed in future through
fixed price. Alternatively, it can controversy.
run a hedge transaction to cover the better planning and implementation.
higher cost it may be paying in the Alternatively, imports could be However, we cannot escape the fact
market in case prices move up at reckoned well in advance before that productivity has to improve
the time of purchase. The treasury the season so that the price is lower. dramatically in the medium run
skills of the FCI have to be honed Even if it is a surplus year, the same for which necessary incentives
or else can be sub-contracted to can be channeled into the buffer or need to be provided. In the interim
reliable agencies. used more vigorously in the poverty period, more innovative schemes
alleviation schemes. The assumption for procurement have to be tried out
here is that excess wheat is better to bridge the gap between demand
The major controversy which than being caught unawares. Once and supply. There are really, few
is politically destabilizing is when the production levels stabilize, then choices here. q

22 YOJANA July 2008

food first

Not a Grain to Spare

M S Swaminathan

owards the end of planning commission and Finance
1966, the late Vikram Ministry. This was a significant
Sarabhai and I called on chapter in the evolution of our food
the then Prime Minister, security system. I recall the instance
Indira Gandhi, to brief her to emphasise that had this wisdom
on the power of television contunued to guide our public
and remote sensing techniques in policy, we would not now have
accelerating the progress in enhancing been in a position where we buy
the productivity of farming systems. wheat from abroad at a cost double
She turned to me and asked, “ How of what is paid to our farmers.
soon can we build a stock of 10 In Indira Gandhi’s time in
million tonnes of wheat”? I was a the 1960s and early 1970s, our
little taken aback by this question, but population was only 600 million.
I later realised that this was because Now it is over 1.1 billion. Chronic
we had to import 10 million tonnes undernutrition and malnutrition are
The sooner we of wheat that year, largely under the widespread, particularly among
PL-480 programme of the United children and women. A ‘blame
do this, the States. More than anyone else, she
understood the relationship between
game’ does not help anyone. What
is important is to learn appropriate
greater will be food sovereignty and national
sovereignty.. I recall mentioning
lessons from the economic and
political dangers inherent in policies,
the possibility of to her then that the first production
breakthrough will occur in 1968 and
which will make us depend upon
imported food to operate the Pubic
avoiding both a that we can build the grain reserve
desired by her by the early 1970s.
Distribution System (PDS).

‘ship-to-mouth’ Fortunately, this happened, although

in agriculture, predictions can often
First, how can we achieve the
desired growth rate in agricultural
existence and go wrong as a result of factors
like unfavourable weather and pest
production? The growth rate in the
production of cereals declined from
epidemics. 4.13 per cent in the period 1984-85
widespread to 1994-95. From here it dipped
Indira Gandhi was determined to 1.09 per cent between 1994-95
food riots to build a large grain reserve, and 2004-05. Annual growth rate
irrespective of the cost involved, in the agriculture sector as a whole
often against the advice of the declined from 3.69 per cent in the
The author is Chairman, National Commission on Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Security.

YOJANA July 2008 23

period 1990-96 to 1.65 per cent marketing opportunities. Special hand and ensure adequate grain
during 1996-2005. Net sown area, emphasis will have to be paid to reserves through timely imports,
gross cropped area, fertiliser use Bihar, eastern UP, West Bengal on the other.
and electricity consumption all and Assam, where water is not a
declined. Growth rate in terms of limiting factor in crop production. The policy of allowing large
trade for agriculture declined from multinational corporations to mop
0.95 per cent per annum during Defending the gains already up our wheat surplus was fatal in
1990-96 to -1.63 per cent during achieved through conservation terms of timing. China has a very
1996-2005. In Punjab, even farmers farming, and extending the gains efficient food management system.
with over 3.00 hectares are unable to rain-fed areas and eastern India, For example, at a time when the
to earn an income comparable to should form part of the sustainable price of rice was double that of
that of a class IV employee of the food security strategy. An important wheat. China adopted the policy of
Government of India. part of such a strategy would also exporting rice and importing double
be to make new gains through the quantity of wheat for every ton
Small and marginal farmer farming-systems diversification of rice exported.
households account for 84 per and value-addition. Unfortunately,
cent of all farmer households. the proposed National Food The NCF has suggested a pricing
Fifty seven per cent of India’s total Security Mission involving an policy for procurement for public
employment and 73 per cent of outlay of Rs. 5,000 crore during good. It will be prudent to adopt
total rural employment come from the Eleventh Plan period is based this system as soon as possible.
this sector. Farming in our country on a business-as-usual approach, The NCF has also suggested the
is the backbone of the livelihood which is controlled by numerous establishment of a National Food
security system for a majority of bureaucratic committees, with farm Security and Sovereignty Board
our population. women and men being relegated to chaired by the Prime Minister,
the position of “beneficiaries”. with the concerned Ministers and
The National Commission of leaders of all the major political
Farmers (NCF) has proposed an The second major need to ensure parties and a few Chief Ministers as
integrated strategy. This involves food for all and forever is the members. We need to develop the
concurrent attention to soil health building of a few instruments capacity to take informed proactive
care, water-harvesting and efficient like a land-use advisory system decisions, and action, to maintain
use of the same. Concurrent to based on the integration of data substantial grain reserves as well as
this are credit and insurance from meterological systems and universalise our PDS. The sooner
reforms; agricultural techniques marketing factors. In addition to we do this, the greater will be
that are socially, environmentally this, a market intelligence system is the possibility of avoiding both
and economically sustainable; required, which will help safeguard a ‘ship-to-mouth’ existence and
and assured and remunerative the interests of farmers on the one widespread food riots. q

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24 YOJANA July 2008

food first viewpoint

The Real Food Problem

Amartya Sen

ill the food crisis who lived in cities experienced
that is men acin g rapidly rising incomes, especially in
the lives of millions Calcutta, where huge expenditures for
ease up - or grow the war against Japan caused a boom
worse over time? The that quadrupled food prices. The rural
answer may be both. poor faced these skyrocketing prices
The recent rise in food prices has with little increase in income.
largely been caused by temporary
Misdirected government policy
problems like drought in Australia,
worsened the division. The British
Ukraine and elsewhere. Though the
rulers were determined to prevent
need for huge rescue operations is
urban discontent during the war,
urgent, the present acute crisis will
so the government bought food
eventually end. But underlying it
in the villages and sold it, heavily
is a basic problem that will only
subsidised, in the cities, a move
intensify unless we recognise it and
The global try to remedy it.
that increased rural food prices
even further: Low earners in the
food problem It is a tale of two peoples. villages starved. Two million to
In one version of the story, a three million people died in that
is not being country with a lot of poor people famine and its aftermath.
caused by a suddenly experiences fast economic
expansion, but only half of the
Much discussion is rightly
devoted to the division between
falling trend in people share in the new prosperity.
haves and have-nots in the global
The favoured ones spend a lot of
world production, their new income on food, and
economy, but the world’s poor are
themselves divided between those
unless suply expands very quickly,
it is the result prices shoot up. The rest of the
who are experiencing high growth
and those who are not. The rapid
of accelerating poor now face higher food prices
but no grater income, and begin to
economic expansion in countries
like China, India and Vietnam
demand starve. Tragedies like this happen
repeatedly in the world.
tends to sharply increase the
demand for food. This is of course,
A stark example is the Bengal an excellent thing in itself, and
famine of 1943, during the last days if these countries could manage
of the British rule in India. The poor to reduce their unequal internal

YOJANA July 2008 25

sharing of growth, even those left behind there would
eat much better.
But the same growth also puts pressure on global
food markets... sometimes through increased imports,
but also through restrictions or bans on exports to
moderate the rise in food prices at home, as has
happened recently in countries like India, China,
Vietnam and Argentina. Those hit particularly hard
have been the poor, especially in Africa.
There is also a high-tech version of the tale of two
peoples. Agricultural crops like corn and soybeans can be
used for making ethanol for motor fuel. So the stomachs
of the hungry must also compete with fuel tanks.
Misdirected government policy plays a part here,
too. In 2005, the US Congress began to require
widespread use of ethanol in motor fuels. This law
combined with a subsidy for this use has created a
flourishing corn market in the US, but has also diverted
agricultural resources from food to fuel. This makes it
even harder for the hungry stomachs to compete.
Ethanol use does little to prevant global warming and
environmental deterioration, and clear-headed policy
reforms could be urgently carried out, if American
politics would permit it. Ethanol use could be curtailed,
rather than being subsidised and enforced.
The global food problem is not being caused by a
falling trend in world production, or for that matter in
food output per person (this is often asserted without
much evidence). It is the result of accelerating demand.
However, a demand-induced problem also calls for
rapid expansion in food production, which can be done
through more global cooperation.
While population growth accounts for only a
modest part of the growing demand for food, it can
contribute to global warming, and longterm climate
change can threaten agriculture. Happily, population
growth is already slowing and there is overwhelming
evidence that women’s empowerment (including
expansion of schooling for girls) can rapidly reduce
it even further.
What is most challenging is to find effective
policies to deal with the consequences of extremely
asymmetric expansion of the global economy.
Domestic economic reforms are badly needed
in many slow-growth countries, but there is
also a big need for more global cooperation and
assistance. The first task is to understand the
nature of the problem. q
The New York Times-
(The writer is a Nobel laureate in Economics.)

26 YOJANA July 2008

food first viewpoint

A Crippling Indifference
Ashok Mitra

he reserve Bank of per cent would not therefore be at population has increased by around
India dutifully publishes all unfair. 150 per cent during the period we
each year A handbook of have in mind; overall production of
Seasoned politician as well as
Statistics on the Indian pulses has gone up, as noted, by at
civil servants constantly express
Economy. The latest such most 40 per cent.
their concern over the nation’s food
publication carries, on
security, mentioning, inter alia, how In the terminology of economics,
page 50, a table detailing the
this security has been ensured by pulses belong to the category of
production of principal foodgrains
thoughtful official measures such as so-called Giffen goods, inferior
all the way from 1950-51 till
2006-07. The data presented are most the induction of path-breaking new commodities the demand for which
enlightening. Wheat production in farm technologies. Some Economists drops with rising standard of living.
the country has advanced from 6.46 are nonetheless convinced that, Pulses are a minor constituent in the
million tonnes in 1950-51 to 74.89 over the past half-century, per consumption basket of the affluent
million tonnes in 2006-07, that is, by capita availability of foodgrains–an sections in society; the same is true
more than eleven-and-a-half times. important index of food security— for coarse grains like jowar and
The corresponding rise in the output has declined; given the phenomenon bajra. The relative sluggishness
of rice is from 20.58 millions tonnes of growing income inequalities, to their output leads to but one
to 92.76 million, which works out per capita grain availability for the conclusion: inferior foodgrains
to an order of increase slightly country’s poor has actually fallen far such as pulses and coarse cereals do
exceeding four-and-a-half time. more sharply. not come within the orbit of interest
of national planners. The gross
In the case of coarse grains like Other Economists to contest
domestic product has maintained
jowar, bajra and ragi, however, this point of view, and the debate
a rate of growth of 9 per cent or
the increase in output is markedly remains open-ended. Since the
more per annum in recent years. In
less, from 15.38 million tonnes national population has increased
the circumstances, there is scarcely
in 1950-51 to 34-25 million in roughly two-and-a-half times
any need, so it seems is the view of
2006-07; production has doubled, between the early Fifities and the
officialdom, to strive to augment
but hardly much more than that. first decade of the 21st century,
the production of inferior grains.
Considerably worse is the state of per capita availability of wheat
things with regard to pulses. The must have, on the face of it, gone The GDP may increase at a
production of pulses in the country up to an appreciable extent. Per breathtakingly exponential rate,
was 8.41 million tonnes in 1950- capita availability with respect to but that has little impact on the
51; in 2006-07, almost six decades rice too has risen, but moderately. state of poverty and destitution
later, it was 14.23 million tonnes, The picture is altogether different in the country. Roughly one-
the rise in output being less than for both coarse grains and pulses. third of the nation continues to
60 per cent. In fact, the production Per capita availability of coarse be horrendously poor even after
of pulses was already 10.62 million grains is likely to have fallen by six decades of independence and
tonnes in 1953-54. To suggest at least one-third during the epoch spiralling growth in GDP in recent
that, over the vast stretch of half of economic planning. For pulses, years. The upper stratum-consisting
a century, the national output of the situation is staggeringly much of, say, one-fifth of the national
pulses has increased by barely 40 more frightening. The country’s population-are monopolizing the

YOJANA July 2008 27

fruits of the GDP growth, the rest the price level of the grain. The means to buy protein rich foods,
remain outside its pale. poorer sections, lacking adequate and cannot even afford pulses;
purchasing power, have therefore they therefore take as substitute a
New experiments with farm
been further shoved out of the species of vetch, lathyrus sativus,
technology have from time to time
market for pulses. The inevitable widely known in the countryside
bestirred the countryside. The
consequence is a declining intake as khesari, which provides them
focus of these experiments has
of protein on their part. with some protein. Unfortunately,
been on effecting improvement in
the consumption of this vetch
the productivity of rice, wheat and The steady fall in per capita
over a period of time leads to
the general range of commercial protein intake by the nation’s poor is
a form of permanent paralysis
crops,including export crops. reflected in the finding of the Human
described in the literature of
Coarse grains and pulses do not Development Report perodically
biological sciences as latherysm.
make the agenda, none has the time released by the United Nations.
Its incidence is especially virulent,
to spare a thought particularly for Gross domestic product growth
for understandable reason, among
pulses, despite this grain being a fetishists scowl at the mention
the destitute masses in central
significant source of protein so of this report; mere scowling
essential for human existence. and eastern India, notably among
however cannot unmake facts. The
principal reson for the disappointing the tribals. The word khesari is
It is a sorry, tragic, depressing actually a corrupt version of the
nutritional condition of the average
story. The poor are a constant of vetch’s nomenclature in Sanskrit,
Indian, highlighted in the report,
the Indian reality; their proportion khanjakari,meaning “what lames
is the declining availability of
does not decline, nor their absolute or deforms”.
pulses for the country’s poor, a fall
number for sheer survival, they
uncompensated for by increased None of these facts has been
need to have a minimum intake
intake of protein from any other unearthed recently. Official quarters
of protein. Milk, fish, meat, eggs,
source. The authorities are were well aware of the relationship
items rich in protein have, of
obviously not worried: the HDR between consumption of khesari
course, always been beyond their
notwithstanding, there is every and latherysm as early as the Fifties.
means. They have, through the ages,
prospect of the GDP maintaining its Established facts and knowledge
fallen back on pulses for ensuring
high rate of growth; nobody can then concerning their implications do not
the ingress of a minimal quantity
stop India from emerging as one of ensure either preventive or curative
of proteins in their bodies. In the
the major countries in the world. action. Poverty and pertilence
course of the past half a century, the
rate of growth of pulse production, There is a grim sequel to the accompanying the consumption
as already indicated, has been story of the continuously shrinking are assumed to be unchanging
whimperingly low. The shortage availability of pulses in the food aspects of the eternal verity that
of supply has not only encroached intake of India’s poverty-ridden is India. The low production of
on the per capita availability of millions. The poor may be poor, pulses plays a major contributory
this protein-rich grain, it has also their bodies still have a hankering role in that tragedy. q
led to a continuous increase in for protein. They are devoid of the (The Statesman)


he Employment News, Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, New Delhi
invites applications from all over the country for empanelment of distributors for sale of the copies of
Employment News/Rozgar Samachar. The detailed advertisement in this regard is being published
in Employment News/Rozgar Samachar issue dated 14th June, 2008, 28th June, 2008 and 5th July, 2008. In
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Each Block-IV, Level-5, R.K. Puram, New Delhi-110066 latest by 15th July, 2008, positively.
Additional Director General, Employment News

28 YOJANA July 2008

food first

Importing Food Insecurity

Devinder Sharma

ndia has drastically Well, you might still be thinking zero and cut in duty on edible oils
reduced import duties on that the Doha Round of the World comes at a time when the import duty
edible oils and rice in a bid Trade Organisation (WTO) has on wheat and pulses have already
to check rising inflation. remained struck for seven years been reduced to zero. These four
While the import tariff on now and there seems to be no major agricultural commodities,
rice has been brought down to zero, movement at all. Let me correct including the three most important
the duty on all types of edible oil in you. This is because we have not food crops, have now been left
crude form has been removed and been following the negotiations so highly vulnerable to the vagaries of
the duty on the refined form of edible carefully. In mid-March, Brazil’s an unjust international trade. In any
oil has been slashed to 7.5 per cent. chief negotiator, Roberto Azevedo case, with the international prices
Besides there will be no customs was quoted as saying that the of wheat and rice hitting the roof,
duty on import of maize upto five there seems to be no justification for
Doha Round was closer than ever
lakh tonnes. reducing the import tariff to zero.
to an agreement. Negotiators have
The US President George been working round-the-clock Intriguingly, the decision to
Bush has said,” We are willing to towards a possible ministerial remove the import duties on wheat,
make serious concessions on the level meeting either in April or rice and pulses (along with a massive
agricultural front, but we expect May, where a breakthrough seems cut in duties on edible oils) comes
other nations to open up their possible. at a time when a Rs 8,000/- crore
markets.” Just to remind you in what National Food Security Mission
context this statement was made, The duty cut has been enormous.
has been launched with the aim to
the US and the European Union Besides crude palm oil, the
increase productivity of these four
have been under pressure to make government has also cut import
commodities. By the end of the
deeper cuts in their agricultural sub- duties on all refined edible oils to 7.5
11th Plan, the target is to increase
sidies and tariffs, but are looking per cent. The WTO will now forfeit
the production of rice by 10 million
for major countries like India and India’s right to restore its import
tonnes, wheat by eight million
Brazil to open their markets in duties, which means that India will in
tonnes and pulses by two million
exchange. future have to maintain the maximum
tonnes. I fail to understand how can
level of duties to 20 per cent or so. you increase the productivity of rice
India has taken the first step.
It has lowered the duties. And by Let us now move beyond the or wheat for instance in the next five
doing so it has sent the right signal WTO argument. The decision to years by keeping the doors open for
to President Bush. bring the import duties on rice to imports at the same time.

The author is an Expert on Agriculture.

YOJANA July 2008 29

This is surely going to be counter- abandon production in the light of Association of South East Asian
productive. In fact, setting up a cheaper imports. Nations (ASEAN) countries. For
time-bound Food Security Mission wheat, rice, and pulses-the crops
Cheaper imports have a tendency
for enhancing production of wheat, that are considered crucial for
to destroy livelihoods. Look at
rice, pulses and edible oils comes at food security-the import duties are
edible oils for instance. Compared
a time when the government itself already zero.
to the import of 1.02% million tones
is lowering the custom tariff thereby
of edible oil in 1997-98, the imports We know that cheaper imports
allowing cheaper imports. Take
have reached a mammoth 5.98 negatively impacts food security.
the case of edible oils. India was
million tonnes. In 1999-2000, India Allowing zero duty imports at
almost self-sufficient in edible oils in
imported five million tonnes of edible a time when a National Food
1993-94. ever since the government
oil thereby once again emerging as Security Mission has been
began lowering the tariffs, edible
one of the biggest importer of edible launched to increase production
oils imports have multiplied turning
oils. if we want to reverse the trend, is counter-productive. There is
the country into world’s biggest
there is no alternative but to stop no sensible rationale behind this
cheaper imports and then provide policy. India must restore the
Because of cheaper imports, the right on edible oils will also be import duties on these four crops
India has failed to raise productivity removed. The government is already if it intends to remain food self-
of oilseed crops. Small farmers committed to bring down the import sufficient. Otherwise, it seems the
growing oilseeds and that too in the duties on edible oils to zero under government seems keen to import
rain-fed areas of the country had to the Free Trade Agreement with the food insecurity. q

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30 YOJANA July 2008

do you know ?
What is PDS ?
After 50 years of PDS, India still home to 400 m hungry people
What is the rationale of the Public Later, it was extended to in order to reach areas of high
Distribution System (PDS)? rural areas too. The food policy poverty incidence. Under this
of the government in the post- system, people were allowed to buy
The PDS is conceived as a independence period emerged out of essential items from FPS at much
primary social welfare and poverty this experience of the Bengal famine lower subsidised rates.
alleviation programme of the of 1943.Thus the PDS was born,
government that was started as a which evolved in the 1950s and Why was the current system of
mechanism for price stabilisation 1960s as a mechanism for providing targeted PDS introduced?
in the grain market. Essential price support to producers and food
commodities like rice, wheat, In the context of economic
subsidy for consumers. reforms in the 1990’s the procurement
sugar, edible oil, kerosene, coal
and so on are meant to be supplied How did the PDS become a and issue prices of PDS items
to the people under the PDS at welfare measure over the years? were increased. To mitigate the
reasonable prices. The system is adverse effects of this price rise, the
supposed to provide a safety net to Post-Independence, the country government decided on a system of
the poor against the spiralling rise often faced national level food targeting the PDS to the poor.
in prices of essential commodities. short-age that led to rapid food price
inflation. However, by the 1980s the Through this, the government
It is meant to fulfill the triple hoped to deliver minimum
objectives of protecting the poor, requirement of foodgrains at highly
enhancing their nutritional status subsidized prices to the poorest
and keeping a check on market households. Until 1992, any-one
prices. It is an essential part of the in the country was entitled to the
government’s food security policy PDS. Then the focus shifted to poor
as the government acknowledges regions. With the Targeted PDS,
that the production and availability introduced in 1997, the system
of food per se is not enough to was restructured to target poor
ensure the ability to acquire the households across all regions and
food, nor does it entitle a person the subsidy differential between the
to consume it. Even the ability poor and non-poor widened.
to buy may not guarantee food
security unless there is an efficient What are the criticisms against
distribution system. the PDS?
What is the origin of the PDS Despite the PDS being in place
in India? for over half a century, India alone
accounts for over 400 million poor
During the Second World War, and hungry people, by the Food
the British diverted grains meant Wait Gets Longer and Agricultural Organisation
for civilian consumption to meet estimate.
the food requirement of their army, green revolution had ensured surplus
leading to the Bengal famine that food grain and the welfare component The success of TPDS depended
killed four million people. To of the PDS gained in strength. from largely on the state governments
overcome the food shortage, a 1992, the government introduced identifying the genuninely poor
ration system was put in place the Revamped PDS (RPDS) to families and issuing the BPL ration
and fair price shops (FPS) were provide essential commodities to cards to them so that they are able to
opened to distribute items of mass people living in remote rural areas buy more quantity at a higher sub-
consumption in urban areas. and backward hilly, tribal areas sidised price. q

YOJANA July 2008 31

32 YOJANA July 2008
YOJANA July 2008 33
National Food Security Mission
A Landmark Initiative In Yield Optimisation

he Government has nutrients, especially the vital micro- On the whole, the Mission
launched the new National nutrients, has impaired the fertility plans to operate in 305 districts of
Food Security Mission of the agricultural land. Therefore, 16 States with a total 11th Five-
2007 with the basic objective to bring about an increase in the Year Plan outlay of Rs. 4882.5
of grappling with the persistent yields, high doses of some costly crore. Of these, 133 districts in
yield shortage in the country. inputs will have to be brought in. 12 States have been selected for
The mission, which has become However, the farmers are frequently enhancing rice yields, 138 districts
operational from the current rabi denied remunerative returns on in nine States for wheat and 168
season, has its tasks cut out. It their products; hence they usually districts in 14 States for pulses.
has to raise the production of find it difficult to afford those costly The participating States include
rice by 10 million tonnes, wheat inputs. Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh,
by 8 million tonnes and pulses Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka,
by 2 million tonnes in five years, The fund-starved farmers have
Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra,
ending 2011-12. not been replacing the old seeds
with fresh ones of superior varieties. Orissa, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Uttar
The desired target does not Besides, the agriculture extension Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand
look difficult on the face of machinery responsible for know- and Rajasthan.
it. The primary reason of this how and technology transfer has What sets this Mission apart
optimism is that there happens remained idle in most states for from many of the other existing
to be a substantial gap between a long time. Consequently, even technology mission is that it
the current average yields and simple measures like timely seed proposes to function through
the potential yields which can be planting, critical for a crop like designated state agencies and
bridged with the help of available wheat, have not been communicated dispenses with the usual treasury
technologies. The basic objectives to the farmers effectively. route for the transfer of funds,
can be achieved by bridging this opting, instead, for direct fund
current yield-potential yield gap, or The new Mission, therefore,
aims at addressing all these issues transfer. Besides, it has evolved
even by narrowing it appreciably. a three-tier coordination structure
However, for this purpose, the with a view to be able to tackle yield
stagnation. It also needs to be borne for facilitating convergence
newly launched mission will
in mind that the course adopted at of interventions from various
have to successfully deal with the
the time of the Green Revolution of departments and schemes
factors which have kept the output
static for the past many years. It is the late 1960s-that of concentrating concerning rural development,
in recognising and grappling with efforts and resources in the areas fertilisers, water resources and
these factors that the real challenge that possessed potential for showing Panchayati Raj bodies.
lies. Another significant tasks is quick results-is not available to this The new mission, in all regards,
boosting the productivity of pulses Mission. It is, therefore, necessary to appears to be a noteworthy step in
where even the potential yields are work in those areas which have so the direction of minimising the
not too high. far remained laggards in agricultural current yield-potential yield gap.
production and, thus, it has scope for It remains to be seen how the
In most areas, even in the productivity improvement.
agriculturally progressive ones, implementing agencies discharge
the production and productivity The Mission has taken up largely their duties and responsibilities.
of rice and wheat have shown the those districts in the selected 16 As regards the new mission, it
tendency to stagnate primarily States where the crop productivity has already become clear that
because of the fatigued nature of is lower than the state or the national much is going to depend on how
the soil. The intensive farming average. It also seems to have taken well the plan is carried out by the
practised in these areas without care of some other areas of concern agencies. If every pertinent aspect
adequate use of organic manures by including in its plan aspects of the plan is attended to, the
has led to the deterioration like integrated nutrient and pest new Mission can go a long way
of soil health. Also, lack of management, timely inputs supply in bringing the persistent yield
replenishment of depleted plant and promotion of new technologies. shortfall to a near solution. q

34 YOJANA July 2008

food first perspective

Food at stake

Brinda Karat

en years a f t e r 35 kg; and prevention of sale of
the dismantling of wheat in the open market by State
the universal public agencies, which is usually done
distribution system to control prices. Taken together,
(PDS), the statistical these proposals constitute a frontal
jugglery of the targeted food assault on the right to food.
distribution system actually The denial of the right to food
excludes millions of poor in both for a large section of the Indian
the BPL and APL categories. population reflected in increased
Targeting is linked to neoliberal malnourishment, stunted growth,
policies that seek to limit, if not ill-health and loss of energy
eliminate, the government’s welfare and therefore productivity is an
responsibilities issue that deserves more national
attention. If countries were to be
People-centred Now the Department of Food graded in terms of provision of
and Public Distribution, has come food security to their citizens, India
reform up with a set of proposals including would rank along with Ethiopia at
reduction in wheat allocations to the lower end. The United Nations
requires the states; allocation of coarse Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report
a return grains instead of wheat; removal
of foodgrains from the Sampoorna
that one out of every two children
in India is malnourished confirms
to the Grameen Rozgar Yojana (SGRY)
scheme as part of wage payments;
the lopsided priorities of successive
governments at the centre that seek
universal decrease in allocations for drought- to narrow fiscal deficits by reducing
hit areas; increase in the prices of food subsidies
PDS foodgrains for both Above Poverty
The previous National
Line (APL) and Below Poverty
Line (BPL) cardholders in the PDS; Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime
reduction in quotas for both APL was symbolised by six crore tonnes
and BPL by 5 kg from the present of foodgrains rotting in Food

The author is MP (Rajya Sabha) and a member of CPI (M) Politbureau.

YOJANA July 2008 35

Corporation of India (FCI) godowns include the provision of accessible Earlier, foodgrain allocations
while people went hungry. The food to its people. were not linked to poverty line
United Progressive Alliance (UPA) assessments but were open-ended
government’s record over the last India now has 10 years of depending on past utilisation by
year has been one of gross food experience of the targeted (into the states. The linkages came
mismanagement symbolised by APL and BPL households with along with the targeted system.
plummeting wheat stocks, spiralling access to foodgrains at different This creates another anomaly.
prices and, finally, wheat imports. A prices) and further targeted (into The Rural Development Ministry
slew of policies, followed by first BPL and Antyodaya households) has a set of programmes for BPL
the NDA and now the UPA, have system. Last year, the Planning families. The states have to conduct
resulted in the present state of food Commission did an evaluation of a BPL survey on the basis of the
insecurity at a time of acute rural the PDS and found that 57% of the criteria decided by this ministry
distress These policies include (1) poor had been actually excluded These are different from those of
the nature of public distribution; (2) from the BPL system. Earlier, the the Planning Commission Thus
the gradual decline in the role of Abhijit Sen Committee had also the state BPL census on the basis
the government and state agencies come up with similar findings, of one set of calculations may be
with regard to procurement; (3) the pointing to the utter failure of the entirely at variance with that of the
lack of commitment to food self- targeted system, and suggested a Planning Commission. The number
sufficiency expressed in policies that return to the universal PDS. of BPL cards issued by the states

encourage a switchover to export- is reportedly over and above the
n associated problem Planning Commission ‘quotas’ by
oriented cash crop production from
with targeting is that of as much as two crore. However, the
foodgrains; (4) encouragement
identification of the poor. food allocation is made not on the
of forward trading in foodgrains
If only those who are officially poverty estimates of the states but
and pro-trader changes in the
Identified as ‘poor’ can have access by those arbitrarily decided by the
Agricultural Produce Marketing
to food, then clearly the method has Planning Commission
to be one that ensures accuracy. The
Targeted PDS prevailing method of identification According to current estimates,
is entirely unsatisfactory. There are 6 crore households in India come
Until 1996, India had a universal under the BPL category. That
two sets of estimates. The estimate
PDS. The United Front government that is linked to allocations of such a large number of people are
introduced the targeted system earning less than Rs 330 a month
foodgrain is made by the Planning
with the mistaken notion that the is shocking enough. But what is
Commission. According to a reply
infirmities of the PDS would be cruel is that anyone earning above
given in parliament, the present
curbed and that it would enable this meagre monthly income is
concept of the poverty line is based
subsidised grain to reach those classified as APL and excluded
on the per capita consumption
who actually needed it. Targeting from the right to subsidised
expenditure needed to attain a
entails an identification of the poor. foodgrains The very words ‘Above
minimum amount of calorie intake
Where these numbers are small, Poverty Line’ is misleading because
out of food consumption along with they include a vast section of the
targeting may be a simple task. a minimum amount of non-food
Where these numbers are large, and poor who have been denied their
expenditure in order to meet the entitlements through statistical
in countries such as India where requirements of clothing, shelter and
the majority of the people are in the fraud and jugglery to serve a
transport, among other things. This is neoliberal agenda.
unorganised sector with fluctuating based on the methodology suggested
incomes, targeting could become by the Lakdawala Committee in The need for subsidised
an instrument to exclude sections 1993 and the population projections foodgrains for a wider section of
of the poor from the right to food. of the Registrar-General of India people is also reflected in increased
Targeting is also a method linked as of March 1, 2000. Shockingly, offtake. While the offtake in the
to neoliberal policies that seek to according to the current assessments, Antyodaya system is around 90%,
limit, if not eliminate, the role of it works out to around Rs 11 an adult showing the desperate need of
the government and State from a day. Clearly, this is not a poverty people for cheap foodgrains, the
its welfare responsibilities, which line but a destitution line offtake for BPL has doubled in

36 YOJANA July 2008

the past few years, from 73.67 step, the Centre is proposing a cut the buffer stock norms leading to
lakh tonnes to 228.45 lakh tonnes in allocations imports for the first time in decades
in 2005-06 out of an allocation of are a result of the deliberate policy
Poverty assessment
273.20 lakh tonnes which constitutes of the government to cut down
83% of the allocation. As far as The demand for a revision procurement on the one hand and
APL is concerned, the offtake is of methodologies for poverty encourage private trade on the other.
much lower not because people do assessment has been raised by In 2001-02, with wheat production at
not need the grain but because for several eminent Economists and 69.8 million tonnes, procurement by
several years there was not much also in parliament. This is an state agencies was 20.6 lakh tonnes.
difference in the APL price and issue that requires the most urgent This year, with wheat production
the market price. The central issue attention. In any case, linking food estimated at 71.5 million tonnes,
price for wheat is Rs 7.50 a kg. For allocations with centrally pre- procurement has plummeted to just
rice the price range is from Rs 10 in decided quotas regardless of the 9.18 million tonnes. The minister’s
Gujarat and Maharashtra for a kg to reality on the ground is a method explanation is that since farmers
Rs 9 in Andhra Pradesh and West to reduce the share of the poor in benefited from higher prices this was
Bengal. As current market prices of national resources. This should be not a matter for concern. In fact, state
foodgrains have shot up, the demand stopped and states allowed to draw agencies were disabled by pro-trader
for APL foodgrains will definitely food allocations according to their changes rnade in the Agricultural
increase but the poor offtake of the needs Produce Act. They could now go

grain in the past few years is being straight to the farmer in the remotest
cited by the government to cut econdly, the neglect of
village, while the FCI can only buy
allocations, precisely when people foodgrain production
from registered markets; the private
require it more. consequent to the new
traders no longer need a licence or a
agricultural policy’s emphasis on
To illustrate, according to a recognised agent to buy foodgrains,
export-oriented cash crops is a
memorandum by the Fair Price thus escaping from market fees which
major reason for current shortfalls in
Dealers Association in West Bengal, the FCI has to pay, adding to its costs;
wheat production. With stagnating
whereas in 2004-05 the wheat while private traders can go into
wheat production, the danger level
allotment for both APL and BPL the market according to their own
in weakening food self-sufficiency
was 2.22 lakh tonnes, it has been assessments, the FCI is hamstrung
has already been crossed with the
slashed to 1.51 lakh tonnes in the by bureaucratic procedures. Thus big
rate of growth of food production
current year. Godowns of the FCI companies such as Cargill, Reliance,
falling below the rate of growth
in five major centres do not have ITC and even the Australian Wheat
of population. Last year, the
wheat stocks at all. In April 2006, Board, which has turned out to be
production of wheat reached a low
whereas the dispatch instructions the company supplying the imported
of around 68.5 million tonnes while
were for 59 rakes, only 15 rakes wheat, went into villages in Punjab
this year it is estimated at around 71
actually arrived. Similarly, in the and Haryana much before state
million tonnes. Soil exhaustion in
SGRY the earlier component of 5 agencies and offered small farmers a
India’s wheat-producing states of
kg of wheat as part payment of a price slightly higher than the official
Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar
daily wage has already been cut to minimum support price (MSP) of
Pradesh may require diversification
3 kg. States have complained that Rs 650. Only when a large part of
but it will be disastrous if the
wheat allotments have virtually the produce had been cornered by
governrnent continues to encourage
stopped for this programme private trade, the government offered
diversification without a policy
a bonus of Rs 50.
Since rice procurement is of bringing alternative land under
reportedly up by around 28 lakh wheat production Big farmers who could hold
tonnes, it is possible for the central on to their stocks would have
Procurement policy
government to replace wheat benefited from the higher prices
allocations with rice at least for The third Issue is that of offered later, but the bulk of the
the time being in consultation with procurement of wheat. Wheat deficits peasantry sold their produce to
the states. Instead of taking such a to the extent of 20 lakh tonnes below traders at prices below the Rs 700

YOJANA July 2008 37

offered three weeks too late by the through nuclear might but can important part in the provision of
government. If the FCI had been render itself completely vulnerable food security, though inadequate.
given the same leeway as private by losing its greatest achievement, The move to cut back on this
trade, then the present dismal the backbone of sovereignty -- food component will also cut down on
record of low procurement could self-sufficiency. the real wages of the worker. With
have been avoided. Shockingly, the current high prices of wheat
the government offered the With this approach, the situation
and other essential commodities,
Indian farmer almost Rs 100 less on the rice front could follow a
what the worker gains in cash is
than what it paid foreign traders similar disastrous pattern in the
less than what he/she has to pay
for wheat it has imported at Rs future. It also raises the question of
for his/her foodgrain needs in the
789.20 a quintal. The cornering whether it is appropriate to combine
of the stock by private trade has the Agriculture Ministry with
permitted wheat hoarding, which the Food and Public Distribution Linked to the issue of weakened
has pushed market prices up by Rs Ministry, which has been done for distribution and the cutting down
5-6 a kg. Thus private trade made the first time in the UPA Cabinet of allocations is the fate of the
a killing both ways, by buying with Sharad Pawar holding both 4.83 lakh fair price shops. To use
the bulk of wheat at prices only portfolios. Fourthly, the FCI is the illustration made by Madhura
slightly higher than the MSP and being weakened systematically. Swaminathan, there is evidence
by manipulating market prices to Huge amounts, running into frorn Kerala, the state with the
two-thirds more than what they thousands of crores of rupees, most effective system of rationing,
spent on buying the grain from are owed to the FCI on account of ration shops becoming unviable.
farmers. of foodgrains supplied by it to In the early-1900s, the average
different government programmes monthly sale of cereals was
A dangerous argument advanced such as the SGRY and the food- 7,500 kg of rice and 2,000 kg of
by the minister is that the import for-work programme. But these wheat per ration shop. By 2001,
of wheat directly to the southern amounts do not appear either in these figures had fallen to 1,400
ports actually saved the exchequer the Budget or in the accounts of the kg of rice and 200 kg of wheat.
Rs 399 crore. According to him, Rural Development Ministry. Many fair price shops are now

the cost of distribution of wheat estimated to be making losses.
procured in Punjab or Haryana to n answer to a pointed question in According to an official estimate
the last centre in southern India parliament, the finance minister by the Government of Kerala, the
works out to Rs 1,120 a quintal replied that there was no need to gross earnings per fair price shop
compared to the Rs 997 it costs show it in the Budget as “there is a fell from Rs. 3,711 before March
for the transport of imported separate accounting system with the 2000 to Rs. 1,493 in August 2001.
wheat. Decades of building a food FCI”. Precisely because the FCl’s The situation has worsened since
security system can be wiped out role in procurement and distribution then.
by such neoliberal ideologies that of foodgrains is being curbed,
undermine the principle of self- the ability of the government to What needs to be done is to
reliance. Besides, it reflects a naive intervene in the market to control improve the system – whether
belief that international prices prices is also reduced. In a country of the procurement agencies, the
will remain static whereas clearly where there is an uneven pattern fair price shops or the methods of
international traders are waiting of foodgrain production with a distribution – but not to destroy
to maximise profits through wheat large number of states facing food them. But that is what the Food
imports at higher prices to India. deficit, weakening the FCI means and Public Distribution Department
Further, a dangerous concession by weakening food security. seems to be proposing. People-
way of lowering of phytosanitary centred reform requires a return to
Other programmes the universal PDS. q
standards in the quality of wheat is
also being planned- This must be The employment schemes of (This is an adapted version of
opposed strongly. India can spend the government, which offer part of authors’ earlier article in Info-
thousands of crores to protect itself the payment in foodgrains, play an change News & Features.)

38 YOJANA July 2008

YOJANA July 2008 39
food first opinion

Public distribution system

and social exclusion
Madhura Swaminathan

uring periods of grain for above-poverty-line (APL)
high inflation in food cardholders were hiked and the gap
prices, governments must between prices for below-poverty-
provide a basic minimum line (BPL) and APL households
quantity of food grain widened. In many States, APL
and other food items at prices of grain were close to market
low prices through public distribution prices and, as a result, house-
systems to low-income, food- holds with APL cards stopped
insecure, and vulnerable populations. buying grain from the PDS. The
In India, the ostensible purpose of Antyodaya programme introduced
the Targeted Public Distribution a new category, the “poorest of the
System (TPDS) was to take food to poor”, for whom rice and wheat are
In striving the poor; in practice, it has resulted in available at even lower prices than
for “efficiency” the large-scale exclusion of the poor
and food-insecure from the public
for BPL house-holds. In the present
situation, a person who belongs to
by means food system. a household that has neither a BPL
nor an Antyodaya card is effectively
of narrow Recent evidence from a report
titled Public Distribution System
excluded from the PDS.

targeting, and Other Sources of Household The recent report of the National
Consumption 2004-5 (GOI, 2007), Sample Survey gives us an insight
households that which presents data from the 61st into the magnitude and nature of
Round of the National Sample this exclusion from the PDS. At
should be Survey (NSS), establishes that the all-India level, 70.5 per cent of
entitled to targeting has led to high rates of
exclusion of needy households
rural households either possessed
no card or held an APL card. Since
basic food from the Public Distribution System households with APL cards are
(PDS) and a clear deterioration effectively excluded from the PDS,
security through of coverage in States like Kerala the majority of rural households in
where the universal PDS was most India are excluded from the PDS.
the PDS have effective. Let me illustrate with
To take some State-level examples,
been left out evidence from rural India.
in Bihar, 82 per cent of households
The Targeted PDS was begun in held an APL card or no card; the
1996. In March 2000, the prices of corresponding proportion was 87.7 per
The author is with Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) Kolkata.

40 YOJANA July 2008

cent in Assam, 83.5 per cent in Uttar 96 per cent in Manipur, 68 per households in Assam, 79 per cent in
Pradesh, 83.2 per cent in Himachal cent in Rajasthan and Assam, 71 Arunachal Pradesh and 68 per cent
Pradesh, 81.5 per cent in Rajasthan, per cent in Bihar and 73 per cent in Chhattisgarh were excluded from
and 74.3 per cent in Uttaranchal. In in Uttar Pradesh. Can 70 per cent the PDS. Surprisingly, the North
Kerala, the State where the universal of agricultural labour households Eastern States did not perform too
PDS was most effective 70 per cent of be considered as ineligible for the well on this count (though again
households now have been excluded PDS? There were only four States there may be a problem of data
from the PDS. The magnitude of in which two thirds or more of quality). There were only four States-
exclusion was also high in the State agricultural labour households were Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Gujarat and
of the North East (for example, in not excluded from the PDS (that Maharashtra-where more than 50
Nagaland, 90 per cent of households is, held a BPL or Antyodaya ration per cent of rural Scheduled Tribe
card). These States were Andhra households had received a BPL or
are reported to have no ration cards)
Antyodaya card.
but this may reflect poor quality data. Pradesh, Karnataka, Jammu and
The only two States where a simple Kashmir and Tripura. Thirdly, the NSS Report has
majority of households were not classified households by the extent
Social background
excluded and did possess a BPL or of land they possessed. It is to be
Antyodaya card were Andhra Pradesh Secondly, we examine the noted that”land possessed” refers
(56.5 per cent), and Karnataka (51.7 social back-ground of households, to all types of land and includes
per cent). Tamil Nadu is an honourable focussing on Scheduled Caste and agricultural land, homestead land
exception. Although 68.9 per cent of Scheduled Trible households. We and non-agricultural land. It is not
households have APL cards (and 11 have selected only those States surprising, then, that a very small
per cent have no ration cards), there where the rural Scheduled Caste proportion of households is reported
is a uniform price and allocation for population is more than 10 per as landless. I have therefore grouped
APL and BPL cardholders. In practice, together the two categories of landless
cent of the total population. In
there is a system of universal PDS in and near-landless households, and
rural areas, there is known to
only considered those States in which
Tamil Nadu. be substantial degree of overlap
this category comprised 20 per cent
between the Scheduled Caste or more of the total population.
The NSS Report also allows us
status, landlessness and poverty. Again, the conclusion is that a very
to classify-by caste, occupation, land
The NSS data shows that 70 per high proportion of landless and
ownership and consumer expenditure
cent or more of Scheduled Caste nearlandless households did not
category-the households that are
households had no card or an APL possess BPL or Antyodaya cards
excluded from the PDS.
card in the rural areas of Assam,. (86 per cent in sikkim, 80 per cent
Exclusion by occupation Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu Goa, 79 per cent in Uttar Pradesh,
and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan and 76 per cent in Haryana, 75 per cent
First, let us consider the degree
Uttar Pradesh. Among these States, in Jharkhand, and 74 per cent in
of exclusion by occupation. The
only Punjab is a cereal-surplus Uttaranchal, for example) and were
NSS defines five types of rural
State. At the all-India level, 60 per thus effectively excluded from the
households, based on information PDS.
cent of the Scheduled Caste house-
on sources of income: self-employed
holds in rural areas were effectively
(agriculture), self-employed (non- Finally, I turn to a classification
excluded from the PDS. States with
agriculture), agricultural labour, of households on the basis of
a lower degree of exclusion of per capita household expenditure
other labour and other households.
Scheduled Caste households were class. Using the official poverty
We focus on agricultural labour,
Karnataka (27 per cent excluded), line (an all-India level of
since manual agricultural labour
Andhra Pradesh (31 per cent), and Rs 360 per capita per month),
households are undoubtedly
Kerala (38 per cent). we classified all households with
among those most in need of
access to the PDS. The all India Turning to households belonging a monthly per capita expenditure
average indicates that 52 per cent to the Scheduled Tribes, again, large (MPCE) less than Rs. 365 as “poor”
of agricultural labour households numbers of households do not have households.. It needs to be noted
either had no card or an APL card. access to the PDS : to illustrate, 90 that the official Indian poverty line
The corresponding proportion was per cent of rural Scheduled Tribe reflects absolute deprivation. Again,

YOJANA July 2008 41

I defined inclusion as obtaining a In striving for “effciency” excluded from the PDS today. The
BPL or Antyodaya card. Our results by means of narrow targeting exception is Tamil Nadu, which is
show that a significant proportion households that should be entitled the only State to have introduced
of households falling below the to basic food security through a universal system of PDS, with
official poverty line did not possess the PDS have been left out. The rice available at Rs. 2 a kilogram
a BPL or Antyodaya card. The data from the 61st round of the to all house-holds irrespective of
proportion of such households was, NSS make it quite clear that a the type of ration card. The only
to illustrate, 77.5 per cent in Bihar, high proportion of agricultural immediate remedy to the problem
74 per cent in Uttar Pradesh, 67 per labour and other labour households, is to make the PDS universal
cent in Jharkhand and 54 per cent in of households belonging to the again, and to ensure that a monthly
Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled ration of basic food commodities
In all these States, even the majority Tribes, of households with little or including grain, pulses and oil is
of those below the official poverty no land and households in the lowest available at affordable prices to all
line were excluded from the PDS. expenditure classes, are effectively households. q

Over 35% BPL cards issued to bogus families

he government has
acknowledged in the
Lok Sabha that 3.7
crore below poverty line
(BPL) card-holders or a
staggering 35% of the total
number of beneficiaries did
not exist, solidifying the
already strong evidence of
rampant misuse of the food
subsidy for purposes other
than the wellbeing of the
intended beneficiaries.
Food and agriculture Off target : It is confirmed that 10.28 crore cards
minister Sharad Pawar have been issued though there are only 6.52 crore BPL families.
confirmed, that 10.28
crore BPL cards were poor across the country based on against government staff found
issued which was way above the BPL card. Pawar said several responsible for issuing ration
Planning Commission’s estimate state governments had initiated cards to ineligible families,” the
of there being only 6.52 crore BPL action to cancel bogus cards. minister said. The fresh evidence
families. As many as 13 states, including has once again underscord the
Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, serious problems that be-devil
The disclosure naturally
had members expressing their Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Orissa the PDS. But while there are
apprehension that benefits of had cancelled more than 67.45 mounds of evidence of PDS grain
other central schemes might lakh bogus ration cards since July being diverted to private players
not be reaching the intended 2006. and, increasingly, even being
beneficiaries. “Instructions have been issued exported, the political class scoffs
to all state and UT governments at suggestions for reforms. They
Various central schemes, such
as for self-employment, housing to take action as per law against have brushed aside those who
and health insurance among persons found in possession of have advocated alternatives like
others, are made available to the bogus of fake ration cards and food vouchers.

42 YOJANA July 2008

Agri rebound : Grain output up 4.6%
Production surged 10 million tonnes to 227.32 million tonnes in2007-08

fter a near-stagnation or The production of wheat Significantly, the production of
modest growth in output currently being harvested, is now pulses is projected to have risen to
for several years, Indian projected at record 76.78 million 15.19 million tonnes registering
agriculture is reckoned officially tonnes, marginally higher than a year-on-year growth of 7 per
to have rebounded in 2007-08 with the previous peak output of 76.37 cent and touching a new high. The
foodgrain production surging by million tonnes in 1999-2000. This previous highest output for pulses
10 million tonnes, or 4.6 per cent, production was put at 74.81 million was 14.91 million tonnes in 2003-
to touch a new high of 227.32 tonnes in the estimates released in 04.
million tonnes. The grain output February last.
in 2006-07 was 217.28 million Similarly, total output of
tonnes. The production of rice, too, is oilseeds is estimated to have risen
estimated at an all-time high of to a record 28.2 million tonnes, up
The year’s grain output growth 95.68 million tonnes, clocking 2.5 about 16 per cent over previous
of 4.6 per cent is nearly four times year’s 24.29 million tonnes.
the average annual growth IIIrd advance estimates of foodgrains, The bulk of the increase
of 1.2 per cent between oilseeds & other commercial crops was accounted for by
1990 and 2007. Crop 2007-08 % groundnut, whose output
The rebound is attributed (Advance (Final Change almost doubled in one year.
to the record output of almost Est) Est) The production of mustard,
all major crops, including Rice 95.68 93.35 2.5 however, declined 13.6 per
wheat, rice coarse cereals, Wheat 76.78 75.81 1.3 cent to 6.43 million tonnes
pulses, oilseeds and cotton. Coarse Cereals 39.67 33.92 17 form 7.44 million tonnes in
Pulses 15.19 14.20 7 the previous year.
This has been indicated
Oilseeds 28.21 24.29 16.1 Among the commercial
in the latest crop production
Sugarcane 344.23 355.52 -3.2 crops, the production of
estimates (3rd advance
estimates) for 2007-08 Cotton* 23.19 22.63 2.5 cotton is claimed to have
released by the agriculture Jute** 10.56 10.32 2.3 surged to a record 23.19
ministry recently. This *Million bales of 170 kg each **Million bales of million bales, marking an
might require an upward 180 kg each increase of 2.5 per cent
revision in the computation Other figures are in million tonnes over previous year’s 22.63
of agricultural gross million bales.
per cent growth over last year’s
domestic out-put (GDP) as well Sugarcane output is, how-
93.35 million tonnes.
as the country’s overall GDP for ever, reckoned to have declined to
2007-08. The output of coarse cereals is 344.32 million tonnes in 2007-08
reckoned at 39.67 million tonnes, a from 355.52 million tonnes in the
The earlier agricultural GDP
whopping 17 per cent higher than previous year due to reduction in
growth of 2.6 per cent for 2007-08
was based on the crop production
33.92 million tonnes in 2006-07. the area under the crop in view of
the prevailing sugar glut.
estimates of Feburary 2007 which The maize output displayed the
were relatively lower than the fastest growth of 22.8 per cent, The induction of fresh wheat seeds
revised projections released followed by bajra (14.6 per cent ) rose over 20 per cent in Rajasthan
recently. and jowar (8 per cent). and 10 times in Bihar. q

YOJANA July 2008 43

food first indepth

Woes and Worries of Public

Distribution System
Manoj Kumar Mishra

n September 17 in other districts like Birbhum,
residents of village Nadia, MaIda, South 24 Parganas,
Chandai Bagan in Murshidabad and Burdwan of the
Bankura district of West state. Somewhere the protesters
Bengal raided the house are APL ration cardholders who
of Fazal Haque Mullick, who is the claimed that they came to know
local ration dealer. The villagers from the newspaper that they were
were angry because he had stopped also entitled to supplies from ration
distributing rice, wheat and sugar shops, which till date they had not
to BPL or APL cardholders on the been receiving. In some villages,
pretext that Government had stopped villagers claimed that neither APL
supplying these commodities sacks nor BPL cardholders were receiving
full of grains were found in the the commodities through PDS.
Ration dealers pleaded that they had
Elimination godown behind the main building
and looted. Realizing the mood not received any food grains for a
of private in the village last night Fazal long time. The altercation, turned
violent in many places. Police had
had fled from his house with his
retail outlets family in the early morning. This to rush to the spots. At some places
was not single isolated incident. they had to resort to lathicharge or
from supply At least ten ration shops were firing leading to injury and deaths.
chain would attacked in the District on the
same day. Most of the dealers fled
In some villages to avoid the violent
mob the ration dealers assured the
also improve their houses. Reports of rampage, cardholders to compensate in near
looting and violent attacks on future. A rumor started doing round
the distribution ration shop owners and their family in various villages that the villagers
members, panchyat members, local would be paid an amount as they
system leaders, cooperative samitis and were not getting essential items
police firing were reported. Within from various fair price outlets. In
few days the ration rage spread some villages people heard that
The author is with the Project Evaluation Office of Planning Commision in Kolkata.

44 YOJANA July 2008

each family would get Rs. 500 and (IEC) activities which resulted in and permanent feature of our
in other it was Rs. 1000 and even such riots in many places or “food strategy to control prices, reduce
Rs. 2000. They also heard that the revolution” as claimed by many. fluctuations in them and achieve
money had already been sent from equitable distribution of essential
India may be the second fastest
the Central Government. In some consumer goods.” The Targeted
growing economy in the world,
places peoples court were organized Public Distribution System (TPDS)
but Global Hunger Index 2007
and the dealers were dragged and was introduced w.e.f. June 1 1997.
prepared by the International Food
forced to commit that they would TPDS envisaged that the Below
Policy Research Institute shows
pay suitable compensation and Poverty Line (BPL) population
that India ranks 94 in a list of 118
penalty to the villagers within 24 or would be identified in every state
nations and lags behind both China
48 hours. There were also reports of and every BPL family would be
and Pakistan. Hunger, however is
suicide by dealers and their family entitled to a certain quantity of food
not a problem of lack of food. West
members who were unable to bear grains (20 Kg. w.e.f. April 2000) at
Bengal has the highest percentage
the fine and humiliation inflicted specially subsidized prices. While
of households (10.6%) not getting
upon them by villagers. In his BPL population were offered food
enough to eat during some months
suicide note the dealer of village grains at half the economic cost,
of the year as per report of NSSO
Kaithanpur, held the rationing the Above Poverty Line (APL)
survey 2004-05. In the category
system responsible for his death and population, who were not to have
of household remaining hungry
requested that none of his family a fixed entitlement to food grains
throughout the year West Bengal
should be appointed as ration dealer were to be supplied grains at their
and Orissa jointly occupy the economic cost from the transitory
after his death. In one or two places
second position; each having allocation i.e. quantity in excess of
armed group of Moist attacked
1.3% of starving population rural BPL entitlement.
the dealer’s shops and distributed household during all months
the looted materials among the of the year. The reason behind To a s s e s s i t s e ff i c i e n c y
villagers. The State Government’s the high percentage of starving and effectiveness in achieving
stand was that the slash in the population would apparently seem the objectives an independent
allocation to the state had led to the to be lack of food availability. But evaluation of performance
disruption of PDS in the state. unfortunately it is not. There are was conducted by Programme
Though one cannot validate low foodgrain producing states Evaluation Organisation, Planning
the nature of protest and there like Gujrat and Karnataka with Commission in 2001.

are reasons to have more incisive low level of starvation, there are
he study finds that about 58%
introspection about the emerging relatively high foodgrain producing
of the subsidized food grains
crowd behavior, it is true that the states like Madhya Pradesh and
issued from the Central Pool
corrupt practice of large number Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh
do not reach BPL families owing to
of ration dealers over the years with some starvation and there
leakages and diversions. Over 36%
are high foodgrain producing
have forced the people to explode of the budgetary subsidies on food
states with almost no starvation
in anger. On September 17, Times are siphoned off the supply chain
like Haryana and Punjab. Thus
of India quoting a statistical study and another 21 % reaches the APL
there is not much correlation
commissioned in 2005 by Ministry households. The PDS is supposed to
between starvation and per capita
of Consumer Affairs, Food and become an important instrument of
food grain availability. Hence the
Public Distribution reported the policy aimed at poverty alleviation;
problem is not of production but
Rs. 31,585.98 crore worth of wheat the cost of income transfer to poor
of distribution.
and rice meant for the poor were through it is much higher than that
siphoned off from PDS in three The Sixth Five Year Plan through other modes. It suggests
years. Further, as in the case of other (1980-85) had, inter alia envisaged that for one rupee worth of income
programmes, the implementation that Public Distribution System transfer to poor the Government of
of this scheme lacks information, would “have to be developed so India spends Rs. 3.65 indicating that
education, and communication that it remains hereafter a stable one rupee of budgetary consumer

YOJANA July 2008 45

subsidy is worth only 27 paise because of their income level are down the Economic Cost of grains
to poor. The implementation of potentially food insecure household. through rationalization of cost
TPDS is plagued by targeting Similarly many poor marginal/ structure of handling food grains
error, prevalence of ghost cards and small farmers who produce a part (procurement, storage, transport
unidentified households. of (or full) their cereal consumption etc.) through public agencies, the
needs and have been issued BPL report suggests.
There are high exclusion errors
cards do not need the full quota
implying low coverage of the target One of important revelation
of subsidized grains from TPDS.
group ex- Assam (47%), Gujarat of the report was that only about
Poverty figure do not identify the
(46%), Maharashtra (33%). It also 22.7% of FPS was found to
poor with social, economic and
suffers from diversion of subsidized be earning a return of 12% on
geographical characteristics. So,
grain to unintended beneficiaries capital and financially viable. The
there is a need to de link BPL
(APL households) because of Error rest remain in business through
identification survey from official
of Inclusion, which constitute a large diversion of subsidized grain. The
methodology of poverty estimates.
proportion ex- Tamil Nadu (50%), Government should take measure to
Poverty research must not only
Karnataka (42%), Andhra Pradesh make FPS financially viable which
know how many are poor but also
(36%), Kerala (21 %), Himachal will minimize leakage and bring
who are the poor and how to identify
Pradesh (20%). A section of the transparency.

APL households holding BPL cards
actually do not lift their ration quota. he report reveals that share Thus the two factors contributing
Thus a part of the entitlement of of BPL cards in the total to failure of the system are
the APL households holding BPL cards handled by an FPS identification of BPL families and
card is actually leaked out of the (Fair Price Shop) is much below flaws in the delivery mechanism.
PDS supply chain. Secondly, the the share of total number of BPL The second factor is more important
Government machinery has not cards in the total number of ration and there is collusion between
done well in identifying the poor. cards in circulation in almost all the various agencies to divert a
Planning Commission estimates the states implying the existence of large part of the subsidized grain
poverty by using annual household ghost BPL card. Moreover, owing from supply chain of PDS. In this
survey data gathered by National to irregular delivery schedule connection it is important to see
Sample Survey Organisation. The of FPS quota and several other the characteristics of the delivery
poverty line defines or is supposed reasons like irregular income, mechanism of those states that
to define, in rupees the minimum wage payment in food grains and have shown relatively low leakages
amount of calories required to low market price in harvest season at FPS level (interestingly West
sustain an individual. Those with an etc. many BPL families do not lift Bengal is one of them). Some
income below it are labeled as poor. their ration quota regularly/fully. of these factors are the general
The NSSO survey collects reported Thus in most states the average awareness level of the beneficiaries,
household expenditure. However, off take by BPL cardholders is literacy level and existence or
higher expenditure may not reflect less than their entitlements. Also otherwise of strong grass root level
a movement out of poverty, as daily many APL families who have been organization etc. As in the case of
wage earners often pay 200-300 included in the target group do not Tamil Nadu elimination of private
percent more for their food items by regularly lift ration grain in some retail outlets from supply chain
buying in small quantities. Besides states because the prevailing market would also improve the distribution
many households grow and consume price of the same quality of food system. Further, doorstep delivery
their own food which is difficult to grains is less than the economic to retail outlets authenticated by the
convert into expenditure value due cost. The beneficiaries of these pros, release of ration quota to the
to price related data problems. The leakages are primarily the retail beneficiaries in weekly installment
findings of the study suggest that FPS owner. To minimize leakages and efficient monitoring system
large sections of population who and diversions of subsidized will also improve the delivery
have kept out of the target group grains there is need for bringing system. q

46 YOJANA July 2008

Public Distribution System - A Survey
Rot in PDS: Over two crore ghost cards
1.2 Crore Poor People are Still out of food Security Cover

recent study has put the number 24 lakh cards and Gujarat and Haryana Even people who got their PDS
of “ghost” public distribution have more than 10 lakh ghost cards each. supply of wheat and rice did not pay
system cards at a staggering 2.3 A ghost card can be used either buy an the stipulated price. In the six states
crore and, what is even more damning, undeserving beneficiary to buy cheap the NCAER surveyed, not one in the
revealed that as many as 1.21 crore grain or just be diverted. In either case, six months of the study’s duration did
“deserving” poor have been left out of the purpose of PDS to provide nutritional people purchase grain at the fixed rate.
the food security umbrella. security to the poor is defeated. In Rajasthan, the people paid at times
35% more than the prescribed rate for
The study, conducted by the The report found that the rich had wheat, the staple diet in the state.
National Council of Applied Economic been given the lowest income group
Research (NCAER), has provided ration cards—AAY cards— in 70% of This is a sign of not only rampant
evidence that foodgrain is being the cases in the Northeast and in 30-35% corruption but also puts the cheap
diverted to the black market and may of the cases in other states. foodgrain out of reach of those who
even be smuggled into Bangladesh. need it as some people complained that
Proxy Claims they couldn’t afford the rations even
Various other reports, commissioned State Ghost cards in at subsidized rates. The “premium”
by the Supreme Court and government, Lakhs introduced by unscrupulous Fair Price
seem to have been validated by the Shop owners is bound to make the
recent NCAER data. The study looks Uttar Pradesh 111.85 really poor more vulnerable.
to make things a little less bleak by not Rajasthan 24.38
accounting for the ghost cards when Of the six states surveyed, the
calculating the extent of diversion. But Gujarat 11.53 study found Bihar to be worst off.
the 2.3 crore figure cannot be wished Haryana 10.22 Almost 90% households in case
away. Uttar Pradesh has issued 1.11 Madhya Pradesh 12.58 of rice and 70% in case of wheat
crore more cards than it should have, complained of impurity, insect-infested
NCAER feels, Rajasthan has an excess Maharasthra 10.14 supply and broken grain. q

In some areas, PDS diversion is 100%

he public distribution system the National Council for Applied
is meant to provide nutritional Grain Drain Economic Research (NCAER), might
security to the poorest in the try to disown the earlier figures
country but that is exactly where it fares but the fact is that the two studies
the worst. In some states, the diversion remain incomparable. The method
of wheat and rice from the PDS system and coverage of the two reports are
meant for BPL and Antyodaya Anna so different that it renders comparison
Yojana category (the BPL and the statistically erroneous.
poorest even among the BPL) is an
abysmal 100%. This was revealed The ORG-Marg study conducted
in a report commissioned by the in 2005 covered a sample of 25,000
government to ORG-Marg and which Wheat people spread over all the states under
has still not been made public. BPL AAY a structured method as compared to
In Arunachal Pradesh, 100% of Arunachal Pradesh 100 0 the Ncaer study which covered
rice meant for the poorest lot (AAY Bihar 47 39 6,000 households in six states. But
category) was stolen and 100% of government officials claim that the
West Bengal 83 77
wheat meant for BPL was diverted. Org-Marg report is too outdated and
Haryana 80 38 several reforms have been put in place
While northeast states may have their Delhi 53 38
own peculiar reasons for such high since the report was submitted.
levels of pilferage, other states fare no Rice
better. Even in the country’s capital, An indication that the 2005 statistics
44% of rice distributed to BPL families BPL AAY might still be close to reality, if not
in the name of the poor disappears. Arunachal Pradesh 78 100 totally correct, is the fact that the
In Gujarat, 41% of rice meant for the West Bengal 30 67 report mentions that 83% of wheat
poorest among even the BPL (AAY) Madhya Pradesh 40 67 meant for BPL and 77% of that for
category people was diverted, the study Manipur 98 97 AAY was being diverted in West
revealed. The diversion of wheat is as Bengal. A recent study by Supreme
Goa 61 39
bad. In Haryana, 80% of the total wheat Court appointed commissioners had
figures in % found similar corrupt and politically
distributed to the poor was diverted to
either the non-deserving or the black The government, now armed with backed PDS system leading to food
market. a more recent report conducted by riots in the state. q

YOJANA July 2008 47

food first View point

Food Security in the

Post Globalization Milieu
L P Singh

ach phase of history rice, vegetables, fruits and milk.
is characterized by H o w e v e r, w i d e s p r e a d f o o d
certain distinguishing insecurity prevails at individual,
features of its own; household and regional levels.
some landmarks According to a recent estimate,
portraying the socio-economic about 32 crore people in the
conditions prevailing during country are helpless to go to
that particular phase of history. their beds daily without having
Globalization may well be their two ends’ meal. This is
termed as one of such events of certainly a sad commentary on
our times owing largely to its our development planning. It is
The state profound impact on almost every against this backdrop that the
walk of life. Notwithstanding Primer Minister seems to have
can effectively the multi-faceted achievements announced an ambitious food
stimulate of globalization, there is a security plan : the National
widely held belief that much of Food Security Mission with a
improvements these gains are yet to percolate corpus fund of Rs. 300 crores.
in market down the grassroot levels; a
vast majority of our teeming
The Mission is essentially a
production specific venture
performance and millions living in the rural areas that aims at stepping-up of the
is yet to derive the benefits of output of rice, wheat, pulses and
thereby generate the much talked-about gains of edible oils, during the 11th plan
production globalization. period.

incentives No doubt, India is a food However, some very important

surplus economy today; a leading issues that need to be raised here
nation in the production of wheat, are :

The author is Professor, L. N. Mithila University, Darbhanga.

48 YOJANA July 2008

l Could food security in the a situation of sustainable food power of the people, agricultural
country be attained with the security. marketing practices would be
increasing volume of production found to be equally important.
Agricultural Marketing
alone? Inspite of the remarkable impact
Agricultural marketing of globalization on the various
l Can agricultural marketing
practices in a country play a sectors of our economy, agriculture
practices in a country play still continues to be the mainstay
pivotal role in attaining a situation
a positive role in attaining a of roughly seventy per cent of
of dependable food security. This
situation of dependable food our population. Obviously, the
is precisely because all the three
security? quality of agricultural marketing
determinants of food security
Food security has been variously namely; production, purchasing system has a profound impact on
defined in economic jargons, but the the income and purchasing power
power and a mechanism to make
of a vast multitude of people
widely accepted definition is one by available food to the public
residing in rural areas. The more
the World Bank (1986) – “access at large are affected directly
efficient system of agricultural
by all people at all times to enough or indirectly by the systems
marketing, the more the income /
food for an active healthy life.” and practices of agricultural purchasing power of the farming
Likewise, Rome Summit on World marketing. community and the vice-versa.

Food Security and World Food Plan
gricultural marketing Access to food, the third
Action observed that, “food security
at the individual, household, national has long been regarded component of food security is also
and global levels exists when all as a powerful stimuli a function of smooth availability of
people at all times have physical to the producer – sellers of food to the right persons at the right
and economic access to safe and agricultural produce to step – up time and right place’. In modern
nutritious food to meet their dietary production. Traditionally, it is jargons marketing is widely viewed
needs and food preferences for an viewed that “if the agriculturists as a mechanism to pave way for
active healthy life”. In both the do not see any easily accessible such an easy availability of goods
market outlet where they can sell and services.
definitions, emphasis has been
given on physical availability and their produce they will have little Role of Government
economic accessibility of food to incentive to regard agriculture
as a gainful occupation.” As regards agricultural marketing
the people.
Such a situation is bound to system, it has been viewed as a
In spite of surplus production demotivate them for raising mechanism to enable cultivator-
of food and its adequate buffer sellers to get a remunerative price
the level of their production.
stock in the country, if people are for their produce, while taking due
On the contrary, by ensuring
extremely poor they may not find care of consumers’ interest, more
a remunerative price for their
themselves in a position to access particularly the price to be paid by
produce an effective system of
food. There may however, be a them.
agricultural marketing attempts
case where inspite of availability H o w e v e r, i n t h e m o d e r n
to create an environment where
of adequate food in the country and globalized world, the domain of
agriculturists are motivated most
also the needed purchasing power marketing is not limited to the
to do their level best for raising
with the people, access to food may these issues only. It implies many
the production of farm outputs
become pretty difficult due to the things in addition. A system in the
and thereby contributing to the
defective system of food product current scenario implies that the
maximum availability of food.
marketing. It is in this context that activities are linked together in
agricultural marketing assumes a Looked at from the affordability some meaningful way, that there
crucial significance in attaining (to food) angle, viz, purchasing are interactions among them and

YOJANA July 2008 49

that inputs into the system are a completely integrated channel retail level : Close coordination
associated with some kinds of would consist of a firm that between wholesalers and
outputs. produces, processes, transports retailers can reduce distribution
and distributes product(s) from costs significantly and help
Now the billion dollar question
the farm to the consumer. These stabilize agricultural markets.
is : whether the government should
independent firms may be bound The different types of wholesale-
play an active role in evolving an
together in a variety of exchange retail chains are: private chains,
agricultural marketing system.
arrangements that coordinate their retailers-owned cooperative
In this concern, the long held
activity over a substantial period chains, voluntary chains,
belief has been that an efficient
of time. consumer-owned cooperative
system of agricultural marketing
chains and government-owned
would evolve automatically out For this to be possible, we may
adopt a three pronged strategy companies.
of the free and fair play of market
forces and hence the government viz; The distribution system is
should keep its hands off all such (i) Help Identify Channel Captains: concerned with moving a ‘package
functions. This view, however, What is required first is to assist of goods that are meaningful in
doesn’t find much favour in firms in commodity channels terms of the buying patterns of the
modern times. Notwithstanding to identify effective channel final and intermediate customers.
the fact that liberalization and captains or leaders by providing The institutional components
privatization are the hallmark of incentives through government of the distribution system that
globalization, prevalent practices action. Improvements, if perform the marketing functions
in most part of the globe favour successfully adopted by channel for groups of food products
active intervention of the state. captains, will improve their comprise the consumers, retailers
Since it is widely recognized that profits. These may then be and wholesalers. It is also possible
farmers and industrialists must be adopted by other channel to focus on the set of activities
educated, motivated, assisted and members. performed in the production,
sometimes subsidized to encourage assembly, processing, distribution
the necessary innovation to (ii) P rovide appropriate social
and consumption of single product
promote development, there is no infrastructure: It is believed
or commodity sub-systems.
apparent reason to expect market that physical facilities can
For example, grains, fruit and
intermediaries to be any different. have a significant impact
on market performance in a vegetables, poultry and eggs, milk
In fact, evidence suggests that at and meat.
some stage public agency efforts dynamic context. Physical
to stimulate the development of infrastructure such as; roads The state can effectively
and storage facilities may be stimulate improvements in market
effective internal market may
used to stimulate management performance and thereby generate
become crucial to development.
improvements, lower marketing production incentives, productivity
Distribution Channel costs and encourage a series improvements and dynamic growth
of management innovations in the food production-distribution-
A distribution channel consists
that will continue to reduce consumption system. Some mix of
of a set of institutions that handle a
marketing costs. However, in public actions directed at each of the
product or a group of products from
view of resource - constraint
production to consumption. The three levels described above may
sequencing of physical facility
focus is on the inter-relationships be required. Also, some optimum
projects is very important
of firms bound together, either sequencing of actions and some
tightly or loosely, by a common optimum level of intensity for each
objective – servicing consumer (iii) Help develop coordinated chains Government action may at times be
demand at a profit. At one extreme, of distribution at the wholesale- needed. q

50 YOJANA July 2008


Food for Human Development

mployment effects, both in terms of expanding
generation their sources of livelihoods, and
programmes in India raising their educational and ‘health
continue to be one of status. Accordingly, there was a need
the major interventions to increase investment in human
aimed at alleviating and social capital that is essential
poverty in rural areas. The major for sustainable development for
focus of these programmes has the community, and, to narrow
been to provide employment the gender disparities among the
through creation of physical assets. participants of various poverty
These programmes have however alleviation, employment generation
not been able to adequately cover and food assistance programmes.
women and less able-bodied men
and other vulnerable groups. A It emerged during the series of
relative imbalance in the coverage of consultations organised by WFP
various vulnerable groups constrains that food resources could be used
these groups to raise their income as an instrument to expand the
The long-term levels. In turn, these groups also coverage of poverty alleviation
and/or employment generation
find it difficult to suitably avail
objective of the opportunities for better programmes to include women
and other vulnerable groups by
education and health for their
of the project is family members. encouraging them to contribute
to the development of human and
to increase World Food Programme (WFP) social capital. Food for Human
initiated wide consultations with Development (FFHD) project
Human multiple stakeholders beginning is an thus outcome of the above
2003 -04 to explore ways of realisation and efforts. The project
Development addressing this concern with a view is using food as a resource to support
Index such as to accelerating the development of
human and social capital. It was felt
human and social capital building
over a three-year period. The long-
health and that employment measures focusing
on expanding the coverage to these
term objective of the project is
to increase Human Development
education groups would have multiplier Index such as health and education

YOJANA July 2008 51

l Estimated population (ICDS) - through expanding
that is being reached the outreach and increasing
through the project: the coverage of intended
40,000 (assuming an beneficiaries (pregnant and
average family size of 5) nursing mothers; immunisation
Key Project Activities of children in the 3-6 years
age group and the improving
Conducting baseline
efficiency in delivery of
study in project
villages supplementary nutrition and
immunisation of children in the
l G e t t i n g 0-3 years age groups).
information on critical
indicators related to l Extending support to Schools
human development - WSHGs’ members are being
and other aspects engaged (on a rotational
basis) to ensure regularity of
l Identification of
community needs children in primary schools,
monitor and/or help in the
l Identification of distribution of MDM and mid-
by strengthening and linking local activities of WSHGs morning snacks (wherever
institutions. l Preparing village-wise action applicable).
FFHD: a pilot initiative plan l Extending support to Health
Capacity Building (including Sub-Centre - WSHGs have been
The present project is being
refresher training) engaged to support the activities
implemented as a pilot initiative in
l Training of District/block level that are required to strengthen
selected 30 villages in each of the
three districts, namely Banswara officers and partner NGOs on primary health activities.
in Rajasthan, Koraput in Orissa & Project Management, process l Managing Grain Banks -
Surguja in Chhattisgarh. documentation WSHGs have been trained in
Target area State TOTAL WSHGs
some project villages to run
grain banks in the community
Chhattisgarh 150
Thirty villages each in the level.
Orissa 161
districts of Koraput (Orissa),
Rajasthan 285 l Other Activities - maintaining
Banswara (Rajasthan) and Surguja
(Chhattisgarh) were been selected ALL 596 sanitation facilities (water and
for implementing the project. toilet), running of child care
The districts were been selected centres, etc.
l Specific training for the project
on account of their backwardness staff of the partner NGOs Progress so far
and are listed among the 100 most on Participatory Learning
backward districts of the country by Capacity Building
Approaches (PLA) and methods
the Planning Commission of India. of social mobilisation l Initially WSHG members have
Target group been provided detailed training
l Tr a i n i n g o f m e m b e r s o f on the above themes. The first
l The baseline survey in all the WSHGs on awareness creation, round of training has been
project villages helped in the entitlements and rights, food completed in all the 90 project
identification of number ofWSHGs handling etc.
to be formed/strengthened as part villages.
of the project. Types of work where participants
l By engaging women in supporting
are being engaged
l Number of women that are being government’s schemes related to
reached through the project: l Extending Support to Integrated health, nutrition, and education,
8,000 Child Development Service women are being empowered to

52 YOJANA July 2008

gain ownership of the existing on education and sanitation in l During the launch workshops
schemes in the community. the village. held in each district,
Food Distribution l In such places where the AWCs the respective District
are not available, the WSHGs Administration has assured
l Food is being distributed as
have begun providing similar all support. Key linkages are
compensation for participation
in training programmes and services to children in these being established with line
work done by the participants areas departments (ICDS, Health,
in the various FFHD activities Sanitation and Forest); Regular
l WSHG members have now
in the village. The village begun to ensure that all meetings are now held by
community, WSHGs, partner school going children and BDOs on a monthly basis to
NGOs have jointly decided those registered at AWCs are review the project progress
the compensation criteria regularly attending. This is
for various activities to be l As regards the capacity building
done after a daily checking of programmes for women SHGs,
undertaken as part of this
the attendance registers at the efforts are being made to draw
school/AWC in the morning upon the resources of WCD
l The total foodgrain quantity and then in case of children
planned for distribution through department to sustain the repeat
reported as absent, the WSHG
the project intervention is 5775 training requirements and also
members go to houses of these
MT. Food distribution has expand to new villages, once
children and motivate their
begun in all the project villages. parents to send the children to the project period is over.
Nearly 1000 MT of foodgrains school. l Similarly, for providing physical
(rice/wheat) has already been
released for distribution to the l WSHG members have begun infrastructure such as toilets,
beneficiaries. to monitor the distribution kitchen sheds in the schools,
of biscuits (as part of FFE linkages are being explored
Project Coordination
programme of WFP) in the with the available funds with
l At the district level a Project tribal schools. the Rural Development &
Coordination Committee (PCC) Panchayati Raj departments.
l The frequency of visits of the
has been set up, under the
chairmanship of the District ANMs to the villages is also l To cater to the funds required
C o l l e c t o r. D e p a r t m e n t a l beginning to increase, though for maintaining community
heads of line departments are much more effort will have to level sanitation, efforts are
members of the PCC. The be done on this front to ensure being made to link the specific
implementing NGO and the full coverage of all eligible component of the project with
state representative of WFP are children for immunisation.
the Total Sanitation Campaign
also part of this committee. Interestingly, the FFHD project
of the Public Health &
is beginning to create a “ripple
Change at the ground level Engineering Department.
effect” in the neighbouring
l The discussion with the WSHG villages of the project villages, l Possible linkages being explored
members and other community whereby these villages have within the existing provisions
members in these villages during started exploring for ways and of the National Rural Health
the monitoring visits shows that means for improving human Mission of Government of India
the people are keen to make the development in their villages for training of ASHA trainers,
best out of the Opportunity and as well.
improve the unfinished tasks assistance in development
of engineering an accelerated Sustainability Plan of village health plan,
improvement in the levels of l A sustainability plan has been mobilisation of village level
human development in their worked out and efforts have been funds for strengthening sub-
respective villages. initiated to enable the project to centers/strengthening disease
l People in the villages have draw synergies with ongoing surveillance system at village
shown an increased awareness government programmes. level. q

YOJANA July 2008 53

Food first opinion

Child Malnutrition and ICDS

Dipa Sinha

roper nutrition, children 1-3 years old and about
care and development 700 calorie among those 3-6 years
during the early childhood old. Therefore there is clearly a
years lay the foundation for gap in access to food (quality and
a healthy and productive quantity) and health services for
life. India is performing children.
poorly by most indices of well-
While malnutrition is related
being of children under six. The
to poverty, gender relations,
results of the recent National Family
agrarian policy and so on, direct
Health Survey (NFHS) show that
programmes to address nutrition
not only is the nutrition and
and health of children are also
health status of children in the country
required. The Integrated Child
poor, but also they are showing very
Development Services (ICDS)
slow signs of improvement (Table
is one such programme that
1). For instance, 46% of children
aims to address these gaps by
under three are underweight which
providing comprehensive services
is an improvement of only one
to address the health, nutrition and
percentage point compared to
To make NFHS-2 which was carried out
development needs of children under
six. ICDS works through a network
eight years back. The percent
all this of children under three who are
of anganwadi centres (AWC) that
are run by anganwadi workers
happen anaemic has actually increased from
74.2% to 79.2% and immunisation
(AWW) and helpers (AWH) who,
among other things, are supposed
children must coverage has decreased slightly
to provide supplementary nutrition,
from 26.9% to 26.2%. Looking
truly become at the results of a recent survey by
nutrition and health education and
pre-school education. With the
the National Nutrition Monitoring
a priority in Bureau (NNMB) it is seen that
poor improvements in health and
nutrition of children in the country,
policy making even today there is a deficit of
over 500 calories in the intakes of
there is a lot of discussion on the

The author is with Commissioners to Supreme Court in the Right to Foodcase.

54 YOJANA July 2008

role of the ICDS programme. there are on an average about 94 average number of children availing
However, any attempt to evaluate beneficiaries (women and children) pre school education, per AWC,
the ICDS on the basis of the impact of the supplementary nutrition is about 37). For the anganwadi
it has made on child nutrition must programme per AWC (Critical worker to be able to provide enough
consider the fact that this scheme Statistics of ICDS Scheme as on attention to all the different groups of
has never been given an opportunity March 31st, 2007 available at wcd. beneficiaries (children under three,
to perform and show results. The This is too high a number children in the 3 to 6 age group,
following are some of the issues to be handled by one anganwadi pregnant and lactating mothers
facing ICDS which need to be worker especially because the and adolescent girls) it is essential
addressed: number of tasks to be performed by to have at least two anganwadi
an anganwadi worker are also many. workers (other than the helper) per
l Low coverage: While almost
She is responsible for managing the centre, as has been recommended
half the children in the country
supplementary nutrition programme by many. Moreover the conditions
are malnourished, the coverage of
and also has to provide health and of work of the anganwadi worker
children under the ICDS is very
nutrition counselling for families in terms of salary, training, support
low. Recent Supreme Court orders
of children under three years of age and monitoring also needs to be
direct that every habitation must
and pregnant and lactating mothers, improved.
be covered by an anganwadi centre
and that every child under six,
every pregnant and lactating mother Table 1: Some indicators of status of children under six
and every adolescent girl must be NFHS 2 NFHS 3
provided all services of the ICDS. Infant Mortality Rate 68 57
Following this, there has been an Children under three years who are wasted (%) 45.9 47.0
increase in the number of anganwadi Children under three years who are underweight (%) 42.0 43.5
centres in the country from around % of children 12-23 months who received all 26.9 26.2
6 lakh to about 10 lakh centres. The recommended vaccines
Supreme Court has ordered that to
Children with diarrhoea in the last two weeks who 15.5 19.1
achieve universalisation at least 14 received ORS (%)
lakh anganwadi centres must be set
Children age 0-5 months exclusively breastfed (%) 46.3
up across the country. The number
Children age 6 – 35 months who are anaemic 74.2 79.2
of beneficiaries has also been
steadily rising but the coverage still Source: National Family Health Survey (NFHS 3) 2005-06: National Fact
continues to be very low. According Sheet India
to NFHS-3, while 81.1% children Table 2: Utilisation of ICDS services
under age six living in enumeration (in the 12 months preceding the survey)
areas are covered by an AWC, only Received food 26.3
28.4% of them received any service supplements
from the AWC in the past one year. Received immunizations 20
Only 32.9% of children living in Percentage of children
Received health check-ups 15.8
areas covered by an anganwadi under age six who:
received any service from the AWC Went for early childhood 22.8
in the past one year. Only 26.3%
of children under six received any Were weighed 18.2
food supplements in the 12 months Source: NFHS-3
preceding the survey. The coverage which is mainly a community based Further, for the anganwadi
of other services such as pre-school activity. On the other hand the worker to function effectively,
education, growth monitoring was anganwadi worker is also responsible she needs proper support and
also very low. (See Table 2) for providing pre school education guidance from the supervisors and
l Low on Human Resources: for the 3 to 6 year olds, which is the CDPOs. While the roles of the
According to official statistics mainly a centre based activity (the supervisors and CDPOs need to be

YOJANA July 2008 55

properly defined, it is also important eat. In this there is much to be learnt quality of the ICDS and the 11th plan
that there are a sufficient number of from the experience of mid day meals approach paper states, “Development
them. As of last year, 43.3% of of the benefits of providing a freshly of children is at the centre of the 11th
sanctioned supervisor posts and cooked hot meal. Plan. We are committed to ensure
34.3% of sanctioned CDPO posts that our children do not lose their
The amount being spent on the
were vacant. childhood because of work, disease
ICDS, while it has been increasing
or despair. We aim to give the right
l Poor infrastructure: The in the last couple of years, has
start to children from 0-6 years with
physical infrastructure of AWCs been very low. The allocation of
effective implementation of the ICDS
such as the buildings they are located the Government of India in 2006-
in, availability of toilet and drinking 07 for ICDS was around Rs. 5000
water facilites, weighing scales, crores, while during the same ICDS CAN WORK
medicine kits, pre-school education year almost Rs.10,000 crores was
material etc. the anganwadi centres The purpose of listing these
allocated for the National Highway
in the country are very poorly shortcomings in the ICDS
Development Project and about
equipped. For instance, according programmes is not to say that the
Rs. 90,000 crores was the defence
to recent evaluation by NIPCCD programme is not worth investing
budget ( The
(2005-06), about 25% anganwadi in; rather that a lot more resources
share of child development (which
centres were running in kutcha and energy need to be pumped
includes ICDS and the crèche
buildings, huts or open spaces. into it. As seen, the failure of the
scheme) budget and child health
Overall about 49% of the anganwadis ICDS is not only a result of poor
budget in total union budget is
had inadequate space for outdoor implementation, corruption and
as low as 1.3% while children
and indoor activities and 50% had low motivation of anganwadi
under six form about 15% of the
no separate space for storage. In workers but also systemic issues
population. (Haq, 2007)
44% of the AWCs, pre-school kits of low budgets, design flaws and
l Low priority: Children’s issues, low priority. There are examples
were not available. However, more
especially the issue of early childhood from within our country, where
than 90% of them had weighing
care and development, receive very state-led initiatives have indeed
scales. Further, the survey data of a
little attention in the newspapers, resulted in an improved and well
rapid survey conducted by NCAER
political debates or the parliament. performing ICDS. To list a few one
in 2004 reveals that more than
It is not the priority of any political can think of the Tamil Nadu model
45 per cent anganwadis have no
party or government. For instance, of ICDS which includes additional
toilet facility and only 39 per cent
according to a recent analysis of staffing, better quality and cooked
anganwadis reported availability of
parliamentary proceedings by HAQ: food, longer working hours and
Centre for Child Rights, only three better infrastructure (A. Rajivan,
l Low budgets: While the per cent of the questions raised in 2006),the Mitanin programme of
anganwadi workers are paid very Parliament during the last four years Chhattisgarh where community
less, the amount allocated for rent related to children. Further, among health workers have been appointed,
or supplementary nutrition is also the child-related questions, less who play the role of increasing
quite low. The current norm for than 5 per cent were concerned with awareness and community
supplementary nutrition which is childcare and development in the age mobilisation and the Malnutrition
Rs. 2 per beneficiary per day, (this group of 0-6 years. However, with the Mission in Maharashtra which
amount was even lower and was repeated orders from the Supreme is working towards increasing
increased by double in 2006), is even Court on the issue, increased civil community participation, greater
lower than the allocation for mid society action, availability of updated convergence between ICDS and
day meal in schools (which is Rs. information on the lack of progress health department and intense
2 + 100gms of foodgrain). This has on improving nutrition etc. has follow up severely malnourished
resulted in poor quality of SNP, while brought some focus onto children children. There are also examples
what is needed is nutritious, locally under six. The National Common of other efforts such as that of the
procured and culturally appropriate Minimum programme makes a M.V.Foundation in Andhra Pradesh
food that children will appreciate and commitment for universalisation with and the Adivasi Adhikar Manch in

56 YOJANA July 2008

Chhattisgarh which have shown ways of improving the
ICDS and increasing accountability in the programme
through community mobilisation.
Based on these various experiences, the following
are some of the steps that need to be taken for
improving the ICDS towards decreasing malnutrition
and protecting the rights of children under six:
l Universalisation: ICDS should be universalised to
cover every habitation and every child under six.
Based on Supreme Court orders this means that
at least 14 lakh anganwadi centres are set up in
the country. Further, as stipulated by the Supreme
Court order any community where there are 40 or
more children under six and there is a demand for
an anganwadi, such a centre should be set up in no
more than three months.
l Focus on under threes and improved pre-school:
In order to pay adequate attention to children
under three while not compromising on pre
school education for the three to sixes, at least two
anganwadi workers and a helper must be appointed
in each anganwadi centre.
l Supplementary nutrition programme: The SNP
needs great improvements in quality so that the
food provided is nutritious, tasty and culturally
appropriate. Hot cooked meals should be provided
in the ICDS centre as this will not only contribute to
nutrition but improve attendance at the anganwadi
and decrease avenues for corruption when
compared to centralised systems of procurement.
l Improved working conditions: The conditions of
work for the anganwadi worker must be improved
by providing better wages, infrastructure and
training. A supportive and effective supervisory
mechanism must also be put in place.
While such ‘universalisation with quality’ of the
ICDS can go a long way in improving the nutrition
status of children, certain complementary strategies
such as crèches and maternity entitlements are also
required to provide support for working mothers during
breastfeeding and even later for provision of early child
care and education. To make all this happen children
must truly become a priority in policy making, with
adequate political will and budgetary support backing
programmes for children. q

YOJANA July 2008 57

food first analysis

Need for Research

Norman E Borlaug

ith food prices During the 1950s, scientists,
soaring throughout first in North America and later
Asia, Africa and throughout the world, developed
Latin America, and high-yiedling wheat varieties that
shortages threatening were resistant to stem rust and
hunger and political other diseases. These improved
chaos, the time could not be worse seeds not only enabled farmers
for an epidemic of stem rust in the around the world to hold stem rust
world’s wheat crops. Yet millions at bay for more than 50 years but
of wheat farmers small and large, also allowed for greater and more
face this spreading and deadly crop dependable yields. Indeed, with this
infection. work, global food supplies rapidly
increased and prices dropped.
The looming catastrophe can
be avoided if the world’s wheat From 1965 to 1985, the heydays
scientists pull together to develop of the green revolution, world
a new generation of stem-rust- production of cereal grains-wheat,
resistant varieties of wheat. But rice, corn, barley and sorghum-
scientists must quickly turn their nearly doubled, from 1 billion
Stem rust attention to replacing almost all to 1.8 billion metric tonnes, and
of the commercial wheat grown in cereal prices dropped by 40 per
that affects the world today. This will require cent. Today, wheat provides about
a commitment from many nations, 20 per cent of the food calories
wheat crop can especially the United States, which for the world’s people. The world
has lately neglected its role as a wheat harvest now stands at about
reduce global leader in agricultural science. 600 million metric tonnes.

wheat production Stem rust, the most feared of all

wheat diseases, can turn a healthy
In the last decade, global
wheat production has not kept
by 60 m tonnes crop of wheat into a tangled mass pace with rising population, or
of stems that produce little or no the increasing per capita demand
grain. The fungus spores travel for wheat products in newly
in the wind, causing the infection industrialising countries. At the
to spread quickly. It has caused same time international support
major famines since the beginning for wheat research has declined
of history. In North America, huge significantly. And as a consequence,
grain losses occurred in 1903 and in 2007-08, world wheat stocks (as
from 1950 to ‘54. a percentage of demand) droppped
The author is a world renowned Agriculture Economist and a Nobel laureate.

58 YOJANA July 2008

to their lowest level since 1947-48. 2005, Mike Johanns, then secretary is tantamount to the United States
And prices have steadily climbed to of agriculture, instructed the federal abandoning its pledge to help halve
the highest level in 25 years. agriculture research service to world hunger by 2015.
take the lead in developing an
The new strains of stem rust, international strategy to deal with If millions of small-scale farmers
called ug99 because they were stem rust. In 2006, the Agency see their wheat crops wiped out
discovered in Uganda in 1999, for International Development for want of new disease-resistant
are much more dangerous than mobilised emergency financing to varieties, the problem will not be
those that, 50 years ago destroyed help African and Asian countries confined to any one country. Rust
as much as 20 per cent of the accelerate needed wheat research. spores move long distances in the
American wheat crop. Today’s jet streams and know no political
lush, high-yielding wheat fields B u t m o r e r e c e n t l y, t h e boundaries. Widespread failures
on vast irrigated tracts are ideal administration has begun reversing in global wheat production will
environments for the fungus to direction. The State Department is push the prices of all foods higher,
multiply, so the potential for crop recommending ending American causing new misery for the world’s
loss is greater than ever. support for the international poor.
agricultural research centers that
If publicly financed international helped start the green revolution, Ug99 could reduce world wheat
researchers move together including all money for wheat production by 60 million tons.
aggressively and systematically, research. And significant financial But a global crop failure of this
high yielding replacement wheat cuts have been proposed for important magnitude can be avoided. Before
varieties can be developed and research centers, including the it is too late, America must rebuild,
made available to farmers before Department of Agriculture’s essential not destroy, the collaborative
stem rust disease becomes a global rust research laboratory in St Paul. systems of international
epidemic. This shocking short-sightedness agricultural research that were
goes against the interests not only so effective in starting the Green
The Bush administration was Revolution. q
initially quick to grasp Ug 99’s threat of American wheat farmers and
to American wheat production. In consumers but of all humanity. It - The New York Times

Yojana August ‘08

Special Issue
he National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme launched two years back has the potential to
revive India’s rural economy through employment generation. The Government has extended it to
the entire country from April this year.
Yojana, Special Issue August 2008 will focus on NREGS in different States. These include Rajasthan,
Orissa, Jharkhand, etc. It will also look at the role of social audits in improving the efficiency of delivery
of social services.
The Special Issue will include write-ups by Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Union Minister for Rural
Development. It will provide feedback on the implementation of NREGS based on extensive field work
done by Prof. Jean Dreze, Gopinath Ghosh, Ritika Khera, Anish Vanaik and others.
Price of the Special Issue is Rs.20.

YOJANA July 2008 59

food first View Point

Role of Women

Sumita Acharya
Hrusikesh Patro
Ranjan Kumar Tarai

omen are t h e profitability. Hence special efforts
principal food should be made to recognize the
producers and preparers role and potential of women in food
for the family. They security.
play a key role in food
There are several ways to
and nutrition security at family level,
improve the capacity of women in
community level and national level.
Women constitute nearly half of the agriculture and agribusiness.
human resource in the country of l Their skills can be upgraded
which 77% belong to rural areas with to reduce their physical strain,
agriculture as the minor occupation. labour time and improve the
In fact, there is hardly any activity quality of work.
in which women are not activity
l Women can be involved in
involved. Their busy schedule is
It is high time we enough to make a honeybee buzz
special production activities,
which require tender care and
should try genuinely with wonder.
continuous attention.
Agriculture in developing
to make the countries heavily depend on
l Adequate post-production
activities to avoid wastage, add,
invisible actions manual labour and the major
contribution is from women.
value to produce and reduce the
marketing cost.
visible, otherwise Mostly in rice cultivation, there
is heavy dependence on women. The employment of women in
the very purpose Women have been putting in more the unorganized sector is divided
that women labour not only in terms of physical
output but also in terms of quality
into nine sectors viz. agriculture,
dairy, animal husbandry, fisheries,
feed the world and efficiency. Women can play social and agro-forestry, khadi
a significant role in improving and village industry, handlooms,
will be defeated the production efficiency and handicrafts and sericulture. Many
The authors are with Krishi Vigyan Kendra, OUAT, Bhubaneswar, Orissa.

60 YOJANA July 2008

enterprise have shifted from the application of conventional and The women participating in food
organized to the unorganized non-conventional grain protectants, production can be assured of food
sector. Among these industries are etc. to overcome the losses from security for their family as well,
coir, cashew, bidi, jute, brick etc, stored grain pests. The integrated while generating gainful self-
with enormous market potential. pest management seeks to empower employment to come out of poverty.
Employment for women is essential farm women to become managers Active involvement of women in
not only to increase their status but and decision makers, so that they can food production will also lead to
also to supplement their family handle the management practices of sustainable agriculture and ensure
income. the pests and diseases for maximum food security in the country.
profits while optimizing inputs
In agriculture women work Rural women play an important
and resources. Therefore, training role by bring up their children as the
for long hours, doing heavy,
farm women for knowledge and men are busy in outdoor activities
monotonous work, coming in
skill acquisition in the mentioned and field work most of the time.
close contact with water, soil and
areas is the basic necessity for Mothers are the best teachers and
the elements, but are paid low
sustainability of IPM in the fields. managers in the family. But rural
wages. Women also collect water,

fuel, fodder and forest products s women are regular to women have remained relatively
and are involved in both livelihood attend to their farm duties, backward in comparison to their
and home maintenance. They take they can maintain a close urban counterparts due to many
part in most farm field operations, supervision on to their flowering reasons like illiteracy, superstitions,
plantation activities, livestock ignorance, serial evils, traditional
plants, fruits and vegetable crops
management, fisheries, sericulture, values and male dominance in
and maximize the production
beekeeping mushroom cultivation, decision making. So education
and profitability. Activities like
forestry and so forth. can play a major role in raising the
establishment of kitchen gardens,
status of women and significantly
Women constitute a major production of oestrus mushroom improving household health and
percentage of agricultural work using agricultural wastes, production nutrition, reducing infant and
force. They have inaccessibility to of grafted and budded plants raising child mortality and reinforcing
modern technology, credit training of plants in the nursery, establishment environmental conservation. If
and other facilities available to male of flowering plants, vegetable and we are honestly interested in
workers and farmers. Other than fruit orchards can be handled by uplifting the status of women,
crop enterprises, they are involved women groups. As women can we have to recognize and value
in animal husbandry including grow them with tender care, the fully the contributions of women
dairying, poultry, piggery, goatary, quality of these products can be of to food security. In addition work
duckery, sheep rearing, rabbit high standard to fetch better value in the house hold should not be
keeping, quail keeping, fishery collection of minor forest produce, considered always as a part of
enterprises or other agribusiness, particularly ,oil seeds like neem, women’s duties as wife and mother,
viz. sericulture, apiculture etc. The pongamia, mahuva is another area it should rather be taken as a paid
significant involvement of women where women can play a significant occupation for, in both the house
in protection of farm products and hold and national economy. In fact
by-products from insects, mites, we are taking un due advantage of
molds, rodents, heat, spillage etc. Food processing is another area women’s endurance and patience
at the post-harvest stage is also which helps in reducing wastage by not bringing them equal to men
important. They perform all kinds and adds value to the produce. in wage and social status. It is high
of activities, ranging from cleaning Small scale food processing is a time when all men and women of
and drying all kinds of activities, popular activity very well accepted good will should try genuinely to
ranging from cleaning and drying by rural women. Such small scale make the invisible actors visible,
of the grains, making of storage processing can bring down the otherwise the very purpose of the
structures, maintenance of hygienic cost and the benefits can be shared slogan ‘women feed the world’ will
conditions at the storage site, by consumers and producers. be defeated. q

YOJANA July 2008 61

J&K Window
Srinagar rocks to Pakistani band Junoon’s music
Thousands turn up for the mega concert

For Peace : Salman Ahmad, lead singer of Pakistani rock band Junoon, enthrals the audience in Srinagar

espite threats from militant The star attraction was the opening of the Institute of
organisations, thousands of Pakistani rock band Junoon, which Kashmir Studies at the Kashmir
Kashmiris, mostly youth, performed in Srinagar for the first University funded by the
turned up recently for a musical time and turned thousands of music Foundation. It was aimed at
concert organised by the South Asia lovers hysterical. spreading the message of peace,
Foundation (SAF) in Srinagar. The event was to mark the love and harmony. q

Rs. 1,600-crore Package for J&K Refugees

Manmohan says more steps will be taken to improve ties with Pakistan

rime Minister During his recent visit to
Manmohan Singh J&K, he sent a clear message
has announced a to Pakistan that his government
Rs. 1,600-crore economic was committed to improving
package for refugees in relations with that country and
Jammu and Kashmir and the peace process would continue
offered sops for migrants
with the new democratic regime
willing to return to the
Earlier, Dr. Singh, inaugurated
Dr. Singh has said more
steps would be taken to the country’s longest cantilever
Reaching Out : The country’s longest cantilever bridge over the Chenab which
improve relations so that
bridge over the Chenab in Akhnoor, which
the neighbours could live in connects Rajouri and Poonch
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh inaugurated
a relationship of permanent on 25th April. It connects Rajouri and districts with the rest of the
friendship. Poonch districts with the rest of the country. country. q

62 YOJANA July 2008

J&K schoolgirls set the Football rolling

T’S not a sight that has been under the hot May sun at the and mentally, to match the male
seen in Srinagar before - a coaching camp organised by the stamina,” says Coach Mustaq
group of 45 schoolgirls, some Department of Youth Services and Ahmed Dar, 35. And he feels that
even attired in hijabs, sweating Sports. Rukhsar has what it takes. “She
it out on a football field, is mentally tough and
dribbling and jostling past has good stamina. She’ll
each other to safely net make a great striker.”
the ball into the goal-post.
Dar’s task is made
Their dream: to represent
easier by the fact that all
the state in the Under-
the girls are enthusiastic
19 category football
and genuinely
tournament at the national
interested. “They are
eager to learn,” he says,
The competition is adding that this is the
already intense. Of the first camp of its kind
45 girls, who represent that the Department of
different schools, only 18 players Youth Services and Sports has
will be picked to participate in Hina Rukhsar, a class XII student ever conducted here.
the inter-district tournament to be from Amirakadal Higher Secondary
Earlier, girls from the Valley
held at Kargil in June. The state School includes David Beckham,
were given opportunities to
team will then be selected, and Brazilian strikers Ronaldo and
participate in cricket, hockey,
the next step will be the national Ronaldino as her role models. “I
basketball, volley-ball, kho-kho
level Under-19 championships have seen them playing and I want
and other games, but they’ve
scheduled later in the year. to emulate them,” says Rukhsar.
never been taught how to bend
For the time being, however, “It is a stamina game and one it before, since football is
the girls are enjoying their time has to be tough, both physically essentially a male bastion.

yojana website

ojana, a flagship magazine of economic and planned development having a circulation of 1.30 lakhs copies
started its publication from 26th January 1957 at the initiation of the then Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru.
It is being published by Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India.
Yojana is the only journal being published simultaneously in 13 Indian languages which caters to the needs of
society especially youth, students and teachers, Professors of economics and social sciences. It provides in-depth
study material on contemporary economic and social issues before the country.
In its 52nd year of publication , Yojana is turning high tech with its own website which was
launched by the Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting Smt. Asha Swarup. Now onwards, synopsis of
all the current issues of Yojana group of journals will be available on the aforesaid website with an archive of six
months, benefitting lakhs of readers including students appearing both for Central and State level civil services,
banking and insurance services, other competitive exams, research scholars as well as teachers and researchers
of economics, commerce and management etc.

YOJANA July 2008 63

News News nEWS nEWS
In the News

he government has but did not touch kerosene. has said that the step, though
announced a steep hike in unpopular was “inevitable” to
fuel prices. It increased the The Prime Minister,
ensure uninterrupted supply of
price of petrol by Rs. 5, diesel by Mr Manmohan Singh defended
petroleum products.
Rs 3 and LPG by Rs 10 a cylinder, the increase in the prices and

Rs. 71,680-cr. loan waiver

Will benefit more farmers: Chidambaram

he United Progressive that the loans of small and marginal stood revised to 3.69 crore against
Alliance government farmers would be completely waived, the earlier estimate of three crore,
increased its loan waiver whether they were in the identified while the number of other farmers
package by nearly 20 per cent to districts or other regions. In view of was scaled down to 59.75 lakh
Rs. 71,680 crore to provide relief the inclusion of big farmers in dry from one crore.
to ‘big’ farmers, bringing them land areas holding larger acreage,
under the purview of the debt Directive to banks
the scheme would benefit more than
write-off scheme as proposed in four crore small,marginal and other The waiver scheme, Mr.
the 2008-09 budget. large farmers and cost the exchequer Chaidambaram said, would be
As per the expanded and Rs. 71,680 crore as per fresh implemented and instructions will
modified scheme approved by estimates (unaudited), up be issued to all bank branches to
the Cabinet, in keeping with from the original estimate of prepare a list of beneficiary farmers
demands from various quarters Rs. 60,000 crore, Mr. Chidambaram for display on their premises.
all farmers-small, marginal said.
and big-in 237 identified dry, All direct farm loans, including
unirrigated and droughtprone “Small and marginal farmers crop loans and investment credit
districts in various States will will get full debt waiver, while 60- for agriculture and allied activities
get a minimum one-time debt 65 per cent of large farmers also given to farmers between the
relief of 25 per cent of their get full debt waiver. This is why the period March 31,1997 and March
outstanding loan amount or Rs. cost of the scheme has increased.” 2007-which remained unpaid
20,000 whichever is higher. The number of small and till February 2008 would be
Finance Minister marginal farmers expected to covered. q
P. Chidambaram has made it clear benefit from the enlarged scheme

Cabinet Decisions
n Proposal to have more than n Rs 330-crore relief package for n Decision on Lok Pal Bill
100 additional posts of the victims of post-Godhra riots deferred, referred to law
rank of major-general and announced ministry
n Rs 9,396-crore project ot build n Nod to outlay of over Rs 10,000
n 118 posts of Armed Forces 67,000 houses for armed forces crores to develop infrastructure
Medical Services to be upgraded personnel by March 2012 cleared of elite institutions

64 YOJANA July 2008

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