ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From 50 Years Ago: Mass Food Agitation.

Calcutta Letter from Vol XII, No 14, April 2, 1960.

Food crisis and sky-rocketing food prices are nothing new in West Bengal. In September last, there was an outburst of mass agitation against the State Government for supply of food at reasonable prices. Again the Left parties are going to convene a conference on food and should the Government fail in redressing the situation, the agitation this year may take a more aggressive form, as people’s discontent has been mounting with shooting food prices. The price of rice in Calcutta is again on the rise… This is a serious state of affairs in all con-science; only the Government of West Bengal does not think so. Its food policy runs in terms of a series of negations; no procurement of paddy, no floor price, no ceiling price; and free trade in foodgrains. The Food Zone formed with West Bengal and Orissa, the West Bengal Government believes, will be enough to cope with the situation and the Centre can always be bullied or cajoled into doing the rest.

Who Holds The Stock?

Neither the growers nor the consumers are happy. It is true that in the absence of Govern-ment procurement, new paddy coming on the market will go down in price and the peasants will again be forced to sell to the jotedar-cum-stockholders and there is every likelihood that a substantial part of the new crop will get into the hands of the jotedars to whom the peasants are heavily indebted, and as soon as the crop comes into the hands which can hold it, prices will begin to shoot up. The poor Ben-gali will be held to ransom and made to pay a price for his daily rice which will scandalize everybody else except West Bengal’s Food Minister, Shri P C Sen.

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