Thursday, January 12, 2006

Food for thought

Today's Hindu editorial on the Central Government's move to cut subsidies to food distribution under PDS (public distribution system) and raise the praise of foodgrains.
The article: Food for thought

Interesting points:
In the late-1990s and the early years of this decade, the number of hungry Indians actually rose. The most modest estimate, by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), is that India's army of hungry grew by 13 million between 1995-97 and 2000-02; this constituted nearly three-fourths of the newly hungry across the world. Other estimates suggest a far bleaker picture.

Since the early 1990s, successive governments have given up billions of rupees in revenue annually in the form of tax breaks for the wealthy. (This has happened even in years filled with calls for `austerity' and `belt-tightening.') Thousands of crores of rupees of public money borrowed by the rich and the powerful have also been written off as `bad debts.' The Government needs to reflect on the wisdom and justice of such a course as it shapes the new budget. How can India afford limitless subsidies and write-offs for those who don't need them, but not the provision of the most basic sustenance for millions of poor people?

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