Millennium Post

Baiting hunger is just bad politics

Despite the rows over the missing coalgate files and the stalling of the Kosi-84-yatra by the UP government, the House has at last begun seeing some substantial debates over the pros and cons of the UPA’s landmark bill, which is expected to provide subsidised food grains to 67 per cent of country population, its teeming poor. It is time that both the opposition and the ruling party stop playing to the gallery and let the bill pass, of course with the necessary amendments.

If the comprehensive introduction to the bill, apprised to the House by food minister KV Thomas, is anything to go by, then the Ordinance should certainly see the light of the day, and not just end up becoming a limited achievement or even a political experiment in the Congress-ruled states of Delhi, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh. Necessarily, as Thomas rightly tabled it before the members of Parliament, the Food Security Bill should improve accountability nad transparency, as much as provide a big incentive to considerably upgrade the sagging public distribution system that is at the crux of the arguments against passing the draft legislation.

It is the government’s duty, both at the Central and state levels, to ensure that the leakages in the supply chain are plugged, and that black marketing or hoarding of food grains, that result not only in massive losses to the public exchequer, but also lead to rotting in staggering proportions of the precious grains, are curbed. To implement such precautionary measures, vigilance and audit committees should be bolstered, which will regularly monitor the distribution networks. Given the amount of food grains that go waste because of inadequate supply networks, it is imperative to development this, undoubtedly the weakest, link in the chain. However, feeding the nation’s hungry is a fundamental duty of the state, and as Sonia Gandhi right says, the state must find ways to ensure it, reason why it is time the parties leave aside their differences over this bill.      

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