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

A+| A| A-

Expand the Food Security Bill

LETTERS

Issn 0012-9976

Ever since the first issue in 1966, EPW has been India’s premier journal for comment on current affairs and research in the social sciences. It succeeded Economic Weekly (1949-1965), which was launched and shepherded by Sachin Chaudhuri, who was also the founder-editor of EPW. As editor for thirty-five years (1969-2004) Krishna Raj gave EPW the reputation it now enjoys.

editor

C Rammanohar Reddy

Deputy Editor

Bernard D’Mello

web Editor

subhash rai

Senior Assistant Editors

Lina Mathias aniket Alam Srinivasan ramani ashima sood Bharati Bhargava

copy editors

Prabha Pillai jyoti shetty

Assistant editor

P S Leela

production

u raghunathan s lesline corera suneethi nair

Circulation Gauraang Pradhan Manager B S Sharma

Advertisement Manager

Kamal G Fanibanda

General Manager & Publisher

K Vijayakumar

editorial

edit@epw.in

Circulation

circulation@epw.in

Advertising

advt@epw.in

Economic and Political Weekly 320-321, A to Z Industrial Estate Ganpatrao Kadam Marg, Lower Parel Mumbai 400 013 Phone: (022) 4063 8282 FAX: (022) 2493 4515

EPW Research Foundation

EPW Research Foundation, established in 1993, conducts research on financial and macro-economic issues in India.

Director

k kanagasabapathy

C 212, Akurli Industrial Estate Kandivali (East), Mumbai 400 101 Phones: (022) 2887 3038/41 Fax: (022) 2887 3038

epwrf@vsnl.com

Printed by K Vijayakumar at Modern Arts and Industries, 151, A-Z Industrial Estate, Ganpatrao Kadam Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai-400 013 and published by him on behalf of Sameeksha Trust from 320-321, A-Z Industrial Estate, Ganpatrao Kadam Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai-400 013. Editor: C Rammanohar Reddy.

Nonadanga Slum-Dwellers Attacked

T
he People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) strongly condemns the violent demolition of the Nonadanga slums on 30 March 2012 in Kolkata, and the subsequent police brutality on peaceful anti-eviction protests followed by the vindictive arrest of activists.

Nonadanga is the area where the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) has been resettling slumdwellers evicted from various parts of Kolkata over the past five years under the Basic Services to Urban Poor (BSUP) scheme of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. The resettlement projects have been run by KMDA and the Kolkata Environmental Improvement Project (KEIP) jointly. Preliminary reports indicate that slum residents also include refugees from Singur and Nandigram, as well as people displaced by Cyclone Aila. So, by no stretch of logic are these slum-dwellers “encroachers” as claimed by the state government. In fact, the land in Nonadanga is very close to a prime city location and the present drive to clear the space by the Trinamool government is the fi rst step towards its plans of handing over this land to real estate companies for “beautification and development”.

PUDR notes with concern that this demolition, attacks and arrests come in a continuum of a worsening democratic rights situation in West Bengal. Another alarming phenomenon is the bringing out of the “Maoist” bogey to defi ne all democratic movements as if that gives the state unmitigated rights to disregard the law and crush people’s movements and aspirations with armed might.

PUDR demands that the eviction drive be stopped, all arrested activists be immediately and unconditionally released, the demolished slum be rebuilt, the guilty police offi cials be punished, and the West Bengal government stop attacking the fundamental rights of people to voice their protest against injustices.

Preeti Chauhan, Paramjeet Singh

PUDR

april 21, 2012

Expand the Food Security Bill

T
his is in response to some criticisms on aspects of the Food Subsidy, Food Availability and the National Food Security Bill, 2011 (NFSB).

While the NFSB is still under consideration by Parliament’s standing committee, there have been a plethora of critiques of this legislation. A signifi cant number of these critiques are a thinly veiled attempt at derailing the legislation on the grounds of food availability and affordability. It is frightening to see arguments that talk of dismantling the entire public distribution system (PDS), replacing grains with cash or arriving at some sort of compromise “solution” by reducing the grain entitlement to a paltry 25 kg per household. These alternative formulations are being justifi ed on the grounds of lack of availability of food and funds and seek to reduce the already minimalist propositions of the offi cial NFSB.

The Right to Food Campaign would like to strongly argue that the question is one of political will. Why do the critics of the NFSB remain silent on the huge subsidies to the tune of more than Rs 4 lakh crore to corporate and service sectors through low taxation rates, tax waivers, etc, that are depleting the exchequer, but are quick to suggest ways in which the government can cut costs on dealing with hunger.

The governments as well as several experts who are opposed to food subsidy do not wish to squarely address the problem of hunger and malnutrition. To those who say that there is not enough grain in the country and therefore PDS should be cut down (either in grain quantity or number of benefi ciaries) or substituted with cash, we wish to point out that total government procurement is now only around 25% of production (and that too only of wheat and rice). If they were willing to think a little more “out of the box”, they would see the tremendous potential of an expanded PDS (near universal, with increased and comprehensive entitlements) for agrarian revival and for a boost to food crop production.

vol xlviI no 16

EPW
Economic & Political Weekly

LETTERS

Why are the many critics of NFSB silent on the demands of the campaign that the Act provide for effective restructuring of procurement, storage and distribution of grain: procurement of food grains from all mandis at fair and assured prices and, as far as possible, local distribution of local procurement. The importance of government procurement to rice-wheat farming in the current m ajor procurement areas suggests that farmers will respond positively to such measures. If pulses and oil seeds were added to the PDS to ensure nutritional security this would also boost agricultural production in the now neglected dryland areas, and of dryland crops. Importantly, it would also reduce the current prohibitively high transportation costs that are now as much as 30% of the economic cost of procured cereals.

Further, it is also absurd to carry on a debate on the basis of shortage of foodgrains when, for around two years now, the Food Corporation of I ndia godowns have been bursting, with the government adamantly refusing to expand distribution at lower prices. Currently, there are about 54 million tonnes in stock and based on last year’s experience we can expect around 20 million tonnes of wheat to be procured in the next couple of months taking it to more than 70 million metric tonnes. In fact, this is the ideal time for the government to introduce a universal PDS. The NFSB, by including reforms in procurement, can then ensure that such a system can sustain itself in the longer term as well.

We hope that the debate around the food security bill is elevated to discuss these issues, rather than trying to fi nd “solutions” within the artifi cial framework and limits set by a section within the government.

The campaign reaffirms the need for a comprehensive food security bill that includes the following:

• A universal PDS, distributing cereals, millets, pulses and oil, that covers the whole population, especially the food insecure, the vulnerable, and the deprived. The quantity should be decided on the basis of the Indian Council of Medical Research norms per adult consumption, and thus include 14 kg cereal, 800 gm oil and 1.5 kg pulses per head (half for children).

  • Appropriate minimum support price, procurement from all mandis of all types of grain and localised storage.
  • Removal of poverty ratio-based caps in allocation of resources by the government.
  • Kavita Srivastava

    Convenor, Right to Food Campaign

    Protect PDS

    T
    his is in response to Peter Svedberg’s “Reforming or Replacing the Public Distribution System with Cash Transfers?” (EPW, 18 February 2012).

    The author has argued for cash transfers to replace the existing public distribution system (PDS). He has used National Sample Survey data which is not a proper methodology since the Planning Commission itself has stated that consumption expenditure is underestimated by the NSS. There is no ground to reduce expenditures on welfare programmes.

    The PDS is, in fact, a very big and useful programme taking care of the neglected masses and downtrodden sections of Indian society. Further, the food security bill too confirms the relevance of the PDS. There are certain defects in the PDS mechanism which have been stated by the author, such as wastages, leakages diversion, underutilisation, exclusion and inclusion errors, etc. But this does not imply that PDS should be replaced by cash transfers as suggested by the author. It is necessary to find ways to improve the quality of the PDS rather than destroying it through cash transfers. Measures need to be worked out to address the corruption in the PDS and remove the errors in the inclusion and exclusion, respectively, of the below-poverty-line and abovepoverty-line beneficiaries. Given the social and administrative conditions, there is no guarantee that cash transfers given to the needy and targeted people will be spent on essential items of food and that it will not be monopolised by the dominant family member, or even spent on harmful goods like alcohol. It remains doubtful whether the cash transfers will improve the consumption standard of the masses in India.

    Raosaheb Gyanobarao Jadhav

    Patpanhale College

    Ratnagiri

    Assessing an Index

    T
    his is with reference to Martin Ravallion, “Corruption in the MGNREGS” (EPW, 25 February 2012).

    While agreeing with the prevalence of corruption in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) it would be appropriate to emphasise that all is not well insofar as its implementation is concerned. It is the flagship programme of the United Progressive Alliance government, and has received very high allocations of public money in budget after budget. Surjit Bhalla is right in concluding the high incidence of corruption in Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan through his corruption index. Preliminary results of our recent study also corroborate the fact that the level of corruption is high in Andhra Pradesh though it appeared that the systems are in place and the implementation is going on smoothly. While there is a delay in the payment of wages to the labourers, there are very few durable assets that are created in the programme. It was also reported that there is a shortage of labour for agriculture during sowing and harvesting seasons due to the implementation of the programme.

    As a matter of fact, Andhra Pradesh’s rural development minister declared in the media that corruption in the scheme amounted to Rs 108 crore so far, whereas Rs 18 crore of that has been recovered. This only shows that the level of corruption in the programme is very high in the state giving rise to doubts about the commitment of autho rities in its implementation. Secondly, social audit has become a routine affair in many places without people’s participation.

    T Prabhakara Reddy

    Satavahana Development Studies

    Hyderabad

    Economic & Political Weekly

    EPW
    april 21, 2012 vol xlviI no 16

    Subscription Rates

    Print Edition – For India Web Edition/Digital Archives

    The full content of the EPW and the entire archives are also available to those who do not wish to subscribe to the print edition.

    Rates for Six Months (in Rs) Category Print (Plus free web access to issues of previous two years) Print + Digital Archives Individuals 800 1,100
    Rates for One Year (in Rs)
    Category Print (Plus free web access to issues of previous two years) Print + Digital Archives (According to Number of Concurrent Users)
    Up to 5 6 to 10 More than 10 Single User
    Institutions 3,000 5,000 6,000 7,500
    Individuals 1,500 1,800
    Teachers/Researchers 1,200 1,400
    Students 750 900
    India (in Rs) SAARC (in US $) Rest of the World (in US $)
    Category Number of Number of Number of
    Concurrent Users Concurrent Users Concurrent Users
    Institutions Up to Five 2,500 Up to Five 200
    Six to 10 4,000 Six to 10 320
    More than 10 6,000 More than 10 50 More than 10 410
    Individuals Single User 1,000 Single User 20 Single User 40
    Rates for Three Years (in Rs)
    Category Print (Plus free web access to issues of previous two years) Print + Digital ArchivesSingle User
    Individuals 4,200 5,100
    Teachers/Researchers 3,300 4,000

    Concessional rates are restricted to students, teachers and researchers in India. To subscribe

    at concessional rates, please submit proof of eligibility from an institution. Print Edition: All subscribers to the print edition can download from the web, without making any extra payment, articles published in the previous two calendar years.

    Print plus Digital Archives: Subscriber receives the print copy and has access to the entire archives on the EPW web site.

    Print Edition — For SAARC and Rest of the World (Air Mail) Airmail Subscription for One Year (in US $) Types of Web Access to the Digital Archives

    Print (Plus free web access to issues of previous two years) Print + Digital Archives (According to Number of Concurrent Users)
    Institutions Up to 5 6 to 10 More than 10 Single User
    SAARC 130 150
    Rest of the World 250 300 400 500
    Individuals SAARC 100 110
    Rest of the World 170 200

    Individual subscribers can access the site by a username and a password, while institutional subscribers get access by specifying IP ranges. To know more about online access to the archives and how to access the archives send

    us an email at circulation@epw.in and we will be pleased to explain the process.

    How to Subscribe:

    Payment can be made by either sending a demand draft/cheque in favour of Economic and Political Weekly or by making online payment with a credit card/net banking on our secure site at www.epw.in. (For Inland subscriptions if making payment by cheque, please add Rs 35 to cheques drawn on banks outside Mumbai,

    when collection is not at par).

    Address for communication:

    Economic & Political Weekly

    320-321, A to Z Industrial Estate Ganpatrao Kadam Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai 400 013, India

    Contributors are requested to follow EPW's style sheet while preparing their articles. The style sheet is posted on EPW's website at http://epw.in/epw/user/styletocontributors.jsp. It will help immensely for faster processing and error-free editing if writers follow the recommended style sheet, especially with regard to citation and preparation of the bibliography.

    Special Articles

    EPW welcomes original research papers in any of the social sciences.

  • Articles must be no more than 8,000 words, including notes and references. Longer articles will not be processed.
  • Contributions should be sent preferably by email.
  • Special articles should be accompanied by an abstract of a maximum of 150-200 words.
  • Papers should not have been simultaneously submitted for publication to another journal or newspaper. If the paper has appeared earlier in a different version, we would appreciate a copy of this along with the submitted paper.
  • Graphs and charts need to be prepared in MS Office (Word/Excel) and not in jpeg or other formats.
  • Receipt of articles will be immediately acknowledged by email.
  • Every effort is taken to complete early processing of the papers we receive. However, we receive 70 articles every week and adequate time has to be provided for internal reading and external refereeing. It can therefore take up to four months for a final
  • Notes for Contributors

    decision on whether the paper for the Special Article section is accepted for publication.

    • Articles accepted for publication can take up to six to eight months from date of acceptance to appear in the EPW. Papers with immediate relevance for policy would be considered for early publication. Please note that this is a matter of editorial judgment.

    Commentary

    EPW invites short contributions to the ‘Commentary’ section on topical social, economic and political developments. These should ideally be between 1,000 and 2,500 words. A decision on Commentary-length articles will be communicated within 6-8 weeks, or earlier.

    Book Reviews

    EPW sends out books for review. It does not normally accept unsolicited reviews. However, all reviews that are received are read with interest and unsolicited review on occasion is considered for publication.

    Discussion

    EPW encourages researchers to comment on articles published in EPW. Submissions should be 800 to 1,600 words.

    Letters

    Readers of EPW are encouraged to comment (300 words) on published articles.

    All letters should have the writer’s full name and postal address.

    General Guidelines

    • Writers are requested to provide full details for correspondence: postal address, day-time phone numbers and email address.

    (The email address of writers in the Special Article, Commentary and Discussion sections will be published at the end of the article.) EPW requests writers not to send revised versions based on stylistic changes/additions, deletions of references, minor changes, etc, as this poses challenges in processing. Revised versions will not be processed. When there are major developments in the field of study after the first submission, authors can send a revised version.

    Copyright
  • EPW posts all published articles on its website and may reproduce them on CDs.
  • EPW also posts all published articles on select databases.
  • Copyright of all articles published in the Journal belongs to the author or to the organisation where the author is employed as determined by the author’s terms of employment.
  • Permission for Reproduction

    • No published article or part thereof should be reproduced in any form without prior permission of the author(s). A soft/hard copy of the author(s)’s approval should be sent to EPW.

    Address for communication:

    Economic & Political Weekly

    320-321, A to Z Industrial Estate Ganpatrao Kadam Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai 400 013, India Email: edit@epw.in, epw.mumbai@gmail.com

    april 21, 2012 vol xlviI no 16

    EPW
    Economic & Political Weekly

    Dear reader,

    To continue reading, become a subscriber.

    Explore our attractive subscription offers.

    Click here

    Comments

    (-) Hide

    EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

    Back to Top