India Lacks Storage Space For Food Grains !

Is there something like “sovereign crime”? If there is no such thing, it is time to put it on the statute book. The helplessness pleaded by the Government of India year after year of lack of adequate storage space for food grains qualifies as one such crime. Millions tonnes of food grain are deliberately destroyed by exposed to sun and rain every year, even as millions of Indians die of hunger. This organized crime has been going on for decades. It is deliberate. It is collusive.It is anti people.

India aspires to become a super power by 2020 if the economist rulers of the country are to be believed. But they don’t promise a simple thing like adequate storage capacity for an essential item of daily life like food. How much time does it take to create necessary storage space for 12 or 24 million tonnes of food grains? One year, two years, ten years or several decades? Claiming to be the third scientific and technical power of the world, an industrial nation manufacturing enough cement, steel and iron for its needs and exports, self sufficient in food, billions of dollars stacked away in foreign banks to avoid tax, 121 crore people, huge territory, biggest democracy etc and still pleading helpless to create storage space? A determined government can add that much of storage space in no more than 4 weeks. The question is: does the government want it? The answer is a resounding No. Had it been the intention of the government to do so, it could have achieved it long back- it has all the funds readily available, it has all the material, machinery and manpower to do so. The British had set up edible salt storage space in Calcutta (now Kolkata) to reach the commodity to the vast territories of the north east up to Burma(now Myanmar), especially during the monsoon season.Here is the government that can’t provide storage for food grains !

The politicians-bureaucracy-business nexus is evidenced in the ugly politics of  packaging bags. It has a long history of terrible corruption and politics in India. The jute industry was mostly concentrated in West Bengal. It employed hundreds of thousands of labour.The most convenient and easy recruitment for the communists in West Bengal. The country was entering a new age of industrialisation, while the communists were crippling industries by all types of strikes. Production of jute bags was affected in the process. Availability of jute bags for food grains, sugar, cement etc was affected every year in the season. When the activities grew intolerable, alternative packaging was explored. Nylon woven sacks registered their arrival. However, the industry was not allowed the freedom to procure these convenient and superior quality bags in the name of protecting the employment of the labour engaged in the jute industry. This political game went on for long. It is yet not over, if the complaint of the government of Madhya Pradesh about the non availability of jute bags for storing the levy wheat in that state is correct.If wheat is not bagged and stored properly, it will get wet during the rain which are near and the state government will get a bad name. Politics seems to justify every sovereign crime. The corrupt have been trying to escape the law by claiming exoneration in the people’s court by getting elected. The corrupt intentions of the sovereign state and its managers are the gravest form of crime against the common man in a democracy. The old saying that the king can do no wrong is dead after the death of the institution of kingship and its replacement by democracy.

The government of India can not hide behind specious argument of lack of storage capacity.The infrastructure of the government is still so stout that it can deliver results before the onset of the rains next month. They had proved it many times, the last one was the commonwealth games, when foot overbride was put up in less than 5 days when the one that took more than a year collapsed just 5 days before the games were to start or the completion of the games village in less than 3 months against more than 5 leisurely years. The same feat can be repeated with greater ease provided the government initiates action now.

The government thinks it does a great favour to the ordinary people by giving subsidies like food or fuel. The Food Corporation Of India (FCI) and the Public Distribution Scheme(PDS) are very impressive on paper, but rotten to the core. I have seen the ugliest form of corruption in the PDS in India since the decade of the 1960s. I used to wonder if human beings could stoop so low as to rob the poor people of the food grains supplied through the Fair Price Shops under the PDS. Now I see it a highly organized activity. The robbery is so audacious that it is committed in broad day light when truck loads of high quality food grains released by the FCI are diverted to the black market, depriving the poor of their supplies at subsidized rates. The politician-bureaucracy-business nexus , robs the poor. The elected representatives of the government have privileges, the poor only subsidies. Unfortunately, even that subsidy is robbed by the corrupt. Thesovereign in its hubris commits the crime non challantly !

Shortage of storage space is the worst subterfuge that the government of India can hide behind !

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  1. #1 by Megha Ghosh on September 18, 2013 - 12:10 pm

    Wastage of foodgrains is indeed a criminal act. You have very rightly said that it is a “sovereign crime” . We need to start adopting scientific techniques for storage of foodgrains. Here is a solution to the storage of foodgrains in India:
    I think if more state governments use such techniques we can considerably reduce wastage. What’s your opinion?

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