It is possible because our agriculture is modernised by industrial strength and economic growth!
Food bill is not election rhetoric?
The Central government legislation, Right to Food Security Act is a welcome development as other welfare schemes. In the present context, there are so many state-level welfare schemes, so many, almost covering every aspect of citizen life, from pensioners to old age securities of all kinds, chief among them medical care, various schemes for children and women. The 100 days employment to the latest national food security scheme.
What is missing in the debate is that we have become accustomed to exporting to slogans and this is the time of critical 2014 general elections and as such given the heightened rhetoric of both the contending candidates for the Prime Ministerial aspirations, Mr.Narednra Modi and Rahul Gandhi are engaged in a battle of wits so to say and anything goes in the current scenario.
The food security scheme is both easy and difficult. Easy as it is already a scheme that is called in various names in various states.
Universal free rice scheme is there in some states like TN to other North Indian states like Chhattisgarh and M.P. under some of the ablest Chief Ministers.
One can’t say whether this free rice scheme operates in metro cities like Delhi or Chandigarh or even Kolkata or Mumbai or Chennai.
The point is that already, right now in the time of high food inflation, the free rice scheme is also misused on a vast scale. Diversion of the free rice stocks in black market is no more an exception.
Also, the quality and the quantity of the rice so distributed.
And there is the larger question whether the Central scheme would be seriously implemented once the elections are over.
As in the 100 days scheme, there is already large scale corruption and misuses of funds.
In the food security scheme too, the state governments where the regional parties are in power or the BJP is entrenched as in Chhattisgarh and M.P. and in other states like Maharashtra where the NCP is the more dominant partner, the very agriculture sector, the very economic sector is controlled by powerful party leaders, it is anybody’s guess whether it is really a great progress by enacting the food security bill.
It is in the implementation of the act that we can say the right to food is really a big powerful right in the hands of the poor.
Then, there is the question: who is the really our now?
The poor now doesn’t live in the villages alone. They live in the slums.
They live in some remote areas or in states where the administration, though honest, yet is weak in so many structural sense like Odisha. Then there are calamity-prone areas and states like AP and Kerala where the monsoon and the natural disasters like floods and cyclone often create havoc.
The point is that India has become food surplus. That is the historic moment and historic achievement. The reasons for our food surplus is now varied.
First, there is the industrial progress. Only a strong industrial economy and a very strong science and technology based developments like IT etc can sustain a strong economic sustainability.
It is the combination of factors that had led to a modern agricultural modern agricultural economy. The sort of agricultural innovations, including the developments of new seeds, through application of biotechnological tools by MNCs like Monsanto and pesticides maker like Bayer, let us admit, openly and honestly that had led to the agricultural modernisation.
Also, there is a great deal of change in the educational and motivational level of farmers these days. There is a new generation in agriculture, a new motivational drive to make the best use of agricultural resources like land, opportunities and the various facilities that are now available increasingly.
The banks are also more open to lending to farmers and much more important to note is the fact that most of the agricultural borrowers are also more clear and committed to put the loans to the most productive uses.
Thus, we see a new generation, a new crop of promising agro-entrepreneurs!
And still much more encouraging is the fact that all these developments and changes and production of foodgrains, why even various other basic foods, vegetables to fruits are seeing new heights of production levels.
For instance, once a backward district like the Nilgiris is now witnessing a thriving mountainous district of various choice vegetables.
There is a daily movement of lorry loads of, say carrot vegetables to the plains and the various other vegetables are concentrated in each part of the district. French beans in Masinagudi, other vegetables in other parts. Why, even in tea production and marketing we see Conoor is making news.
All these are new developments. So too the various districts in various states can now be identified with particular crops, vegetables and frutis. Maharashtra has become the hub of the much maligned onion crop and its price determination!
Wine quality grapes are now cultivated successfully in Maharashtra and now in Karnataka. Horticulture revolution is now an unsung story!
So overall India is a vibrant food economy. India is number one rice exporter. So too in other crops and products like milk products.
So let us celebrate the Indian farmers’ great achievements.