Yet another right, with no responsibility attached. While there is a move afoot to invest in agricultural efficiency, yield, supply, storage and distribution to drive prices down, the UPA government finds it convenient to fund another populist idea targeted to serve 67% of India’s population. Give me a break! 67% of Indians go hungry? Really?
The Food Security Bill (FSB) will provide 5kg of cheap grain every month to nearly 800 million poor people. The Bill proposes to provide 5kg of grains per month at subsidized prices (₹ 3/kg for rice, ₹ 2/kg for wheat and ₹ 1/kg for millet). 800 million people! That’s 67% of the population, who will kiss the UPA’s you know what for this manna promised to them, provided they get it. Corruption will siphon off a significant portion enriching babus, politicians and middle men. But wait … there’s more, children aged six months to 14 years will get take home ration of hot food! Have more kids, no problem, Sarkar will feed one and feed them all! The moment they are weaned off their mother’s breast milk, they will start suckling on the UPA’s largesse. And to make sure the child is breast fed, mothers will be given ₹ 6,000. The total estimated cost of this “Pork” that was pushed through as an Ordinance, with minimum debate in the Houses, is estimated to be ₹ 1.23 Trillion! ₹ 1,23,000 crore, that is 1.23 lakh crore. We don’t even have a term for a lakh crore!
India ranks 2nd highest in the number of malnourished children behind Bangladesh and 47% of the children are malnourished which is nearly double that of sub-Saharan Africa as estimated by the World Bank. The HUNGAMA (Hunger and Malnutrition) report dwells into this issue in great detail. But wait, why is it that the people in sub-Saharan Africa are better off than these folks? Instead of focusing on kaibashing rampant corruption that has rocked the UPA and rather than pushing through economic reforms that will unleash the true potential of India Inc. to create jobs, the UPA wishes to introduce yet another Band Aid that will add to existing corrupt practices.
After 66 years of Independence, the UPA has the temerity to say that 67% (~80 crore) of Indians need the right to food? This is an admission of utter failure having been in power for the majority of these years.
The appropriate fix to the problem is Job, Jobs, Jobs. No jobs, no hope. This is pouring money to solve a problem. Any fool can do it. If this were to be introduced as a stopgap measure for a year and renewable for at most one more year, then it can be stomached (pardon the pun). But to continue to provide this largesse in the absence of economic growth and in the preponderance of corruption is unpalatable.
The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in its Global Hunger Index (GHI) report, has indicated that of the 870 million people who go hungry, 25%, that is 210 million (21 crore), live in India.
After 66 years of independence, the UPA has the temerity to say that 67% (~80 crore) of Indians need the right to food? This is an admission of utter failure having been in power for the majority of these years. What a shame. But wait! Malnutrition, not hunger, is the problem for the majority of this 67%. So giving them cheap staples will allow them to buy veggies and meat? As one activist shouted – no protein, no vitamins, no dairy, no pulses, none of the nutrients for a balanced diet. These people need nutritional security. Proponents of the scheme say that providing 5kg of rice & wheat at subsidized prices will enable these families to purchase these supplements. Plus there are grants for expecting mothers and goodies for children.
This has been dubbed Vote Securing Bill by some. Besides vote bank politics, this is another notch on the right to corruption.
Capitalist Pig has a better idea:
Give each citizen a set amount of money per month (wait we will get to how much when we do the numbers) and get rid of subsidies for gas cylinders, petrol, diesel, rice, wheat, kerosene, etc. all together. That’s right – let everyone apply, if they choose to (even Mukesh Ambani, his wife, his obese son, and other siblings), and let the people spend it on whatever they want – food, gas cylinder, petrol, liquor.
Move to a market-based economy in one fell swoop. Use Aadhaar card to ensure UID and transfer money directly into the individual’s account. Children’s money can be given to their mother.
One caveat: families with more than two kids should have a sterilization certificate. If the family applies for another kid after faking a certificate, then the father should be apprehended and taken for nus bandhi!
Now let’s do the numbers:
The government claims that the current quantity through the Public Distribution System (PDS) is 60 million tons (6 crore). FSB will add just an additional 2 million tons. Currently 45% of the families covered get 35kg of grain per family. By giving 5Kg per person, 67% of the population will be covered. The current bill is ₹ 1.13 Lakh Crores, which will increase to ₹ 1.23 Lakh crores to meet the requirements of the FSB. The FSB adds just an additional ₹ 10K crores. So what is all the brouhaha about? Furthermore, since it is now a “right”, people can demand their “right”. And since it is now cheap, there will be a huge sucking sound “whoosh” with people exercising their “right” which will reduce corruption.
The FSB will cost about ₹ 2 Lakh Crore according to some who believe the government is fudging the numbers. Some claim this is high, others say it is too low. There is another way to arrive at this number. The cost of low grade rice is about Rs. 25/kilo at the retail store which includes the seller’s profit margin. This constitutes the entire cost from farm procurement to store. Let us take ₹ 20/kg for both wheat and rice.
Give each citizen a set amount of money per month (wait we will get to how much when we do the numbers) and get rid of subsidies for gas cylinders, petrol, diesel, rice, wheat, kerosene, etc. all together. That’s right – let everyone apply, if they choose to (even Mukesh Ambani, his wife, his obese son, and other siblings), and let the people spend it on whatever they want – food, gas cylinder, petrol, liquor).
India has a population of 122 crores. 67% is about 80 crores. Each person has the “right” to receive 60kg per year. That makes 4,800 crore kg or 4.8 crore tons. The government estimate is 6.2 crore tons, which we can assume accounts spoilage and “leakage”. At ₹ 20,000 per ton, this will work out to be just short of ₹ 1 lakh crores. To this we can add cash grant to pregnant women and other grants to arrive at the ₹ 1.23 lakh crores quoted by the government.
But that assumes everything works according to plan and there are no cost overruns, spoilage, leakage, corruption, etc.
Now if we were to take into consideration all the other subsidies people at all levels, not just people Below Poverty Line (BPL) are receiving, you, me and even Mukesh Ambani, his wife, obese son and siblings. we can assume that the total subsidy bill including FSB will exceed ₹ 2 lakh crores.
To keep it simple and the numbers rounded, this works out to be about ₹ 2,000 per person per year assuming 1 billion people, instead of 1.22 billion.
So ₹ 200 per citizen (including children) per month, even if it works out to be ₹ 2,400 per year, would mean significant savings because:
- Get rid of the PDS system all together, big savings there!
- Get rid of all subsidies.
- No corruption if money is deposited directly to the verified receiver’s account.
Maybe it could even be made ₹ 300 per citizen.
Just look at the savings incurred! Not to mention the look on the faces of the losers i.e. the corrupt.
If the numbers are right, Capitalist Pig should get the Nobel Prize.