Monday, May 7, 2012

FOOD VS MINERALS-ARE THE NEW POLICIES SKEWED?

The present government is very keen to push through the so called food security bill under which food grains like wheat, rice and coarse grains are distributed practically free to three fourth of the population in the country under the skewed perception that people would be happy if they could access staple foods easily. What is forgotten in this populist program is about the logistics of production of required food to meet the new needs arising out of the commitment by the government. The long forgotten Green Revolution had run its course, ruining the fertility and health of the soil and it is unlikely that the same soil can achieve quantum jump in production unless reclaimed or rehabilitated. Such a program of rejuvenation is far from the minds of the policy makers as of now and probably this commitment will eventually lead to massive imports of food in future. Present happy situation with the grain stocks cannot continue for ever and if the rains fail the country a couple of times the present stock can "evaporate" in no time. Is any one at Delhi, including the "exalted" Planning Commission bothered about this precarious situation?

The new Land Policy now being orchestrated is intended to facilitate land acquisition for industry and real estate conglomerates, the only redeeming feature being increased compensation receivable by the land losers. But disappearance of agricultural land, especially smaller holdings owned by millions of farmers in the coming years will make a dent in food production and such a land policy will also contribute to increased food imports. There appears to be a perception in the government that self reliance is a "sin" when the country has subscribed to free trade policies under the WTO regime. Is food import a wise policy? Of course not because grain prices in the international markets are influenced by many factors and India has no influence on the same. Is the country prepared to pay any price to import food grains when food shortages become acute one day? Recent events have seen how a small drought in one exporting country can cause spiraling of grain prices in the global market and imagine the potential risk in the form of civil disturbances that can occur under scarcity conditions! 

As one of the discerning critics has pointed out recently the present government seems to be more pre-occupied about mineral exports under the perceived impression that they can bring lot of money and this is the logic behind the enactment of the new Mining Bill. Though land acquisition for mining is not a pre-requisite as such lands rich in minerals are leased out for long time, fact still remains that land is lost for cultivation if minerals are found under the land, affecting again food production. Country seems to be forgetting the recent mining scams in states like Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Goa and others which have rocked the nation and all these scams are politician-mining mafia driven causing huge losses to the exchequer. Look at places like Bellary where the environment is thick with red dust generated by inefficient and crude way of mining and mining barons are ruthless in destroying every thing coming in their way. Illegal mining and exporting appear to be taking place under the very nose of the government in spite of judicial intervention! A number of NGOs who espouse the cause of environment are doing a yeomen service to the nation by their relentless fight against over mining and unscientific practices of mining industry. 

The current year bumper harvest may embolden the government to push ahead with its illogical policies because with large stocks of food grains in the government storage depots, covered as well open, a false sense of food security is likely to prevail at least for another year. When one talks about mining and export of minerals from the country, it is forgotten that precious non-renewable resources are lost once for all irretrievably and will the present rulers be around to answer to the future generations about such a heinous deed? What prevents the government from linking mining leases with production outfits which can extract the valuable mineral contained and return the bulk of the wastes back to the place preventing unnecessary land destruction. Export of minerals containing 99% sand and traces of targeted mineral is nothing but a folly when country is talking about value addition, industrialization and employment generation. 

India will be remembered in history as a country going down under with wrong policies and priorities, if agriculture is not given the importance it deserves. Almost 70% of the population living in the rural backyard of this country should be applauded and encouraged for providing food to the 30% of those living in urban regions generating economic wealth through manufacturing and other industrial and commercial services. If rural India falters the country will falter and it is the duty of the government to provide rightful environment through economic and policy support with more commitment. Farmers in this country should not be allowed to wither away by a deluge of suicides taking place in different agricultural belts and if such wake up calls do not ring alarm bells in the appropriate quarters, nothing else will!

V.H.POTTY
http://vhpotty.blogspot.com/
http://foodtechupdates.blogspot.com

1 comment:

Leonard Vice said...

I think they are just confusing it. Though online food awareness programs has been making debates on this one probably, other get to create misleading information.