The news that thousands of lakhs of tonnes of foodgrains have been rotting in the godowns of the Food Corporation of India has angered the workers and peasants of our country. Investigations have revealed that the amount of foodgrains condemned by the government as unfit for human consumption has been steadily increasing since 1997.
The news that thousands of lakhs of tonnes of foodgrains have been rotting in the godowns of the Food Corporation of India has angered the workers and peasants of our country. Investigations have revealed that the amount of foodgrains condemned by the government as unfit for human consumption has been steadily increasing since 1997. In the past year, horrific pictures have appeared of lakhs of tonnes of foodgrains left to rot in the open, because there is no storage space in the godowns of the FCI.
On the one hand we have the grim reality of millions of our people, including children starving for lack of even foodgrains. On the other, the foodgrains produced by our hardworking peasants through their labour are being left to rot. This is nothing but a damning indictment of the ruling class and its course.
In 1997, the bourgeoisie and its then United Front government began to dismantle the Universal Public Distribution System to replace it with a "Targeted" Distribution System which would allegedly "reach the needy". In fact, they dismantled whatever Public Distribution mechanism that existed until that time, so that no mechanism now exists to ensure that foodgrains can reach the masses of people. They began exporting foodgrains at extremely low prices, lower than the procurement prices, to international markets for cattle feed. In the same manner as the US government has followed the policy of dumping millions of tonnes of foodgrains into the sea to keep the prices high in the market, and help the monopoly agricultural trading corporations reap in maximum profits, the government of India deprived the people of foodgrains and assisted the trading monopolies to make maximum profits.
Today the foodgrains in the hands of the government are twice the storage capacity. The government finds it more profitable to let it rot, rather than organise that good quality grains reach the people. At the same time, the government is preparing public opinion to reduce and eliminate procurement of foodgrains. It is preparing public opinion that the state procurement system be disbanded and the peasants come completely under the control of agricultural trading monopolies.
The foodgrains that have been allowed to rot are the result of the hard toil of our peasantry. The money that has been used to procure them is from the hard earned labour of the working masses of town and country, extracted through taxes. The attitude of the UPA government and its agricultural minister, who first denied that there is any problem, and then carries on arrogantly as if it is business as usual, is criminal. To waste peoples money on feeding rats, to make a mockery of the labour of the peasants and working people, is outright criminal.
If the workers and peasants were in power, they would never ever allow even a single grain of food to rot, let alone at the scale that is now happening. If the workers and peasants were in power, we would ensure that foodgrains are well preserved and distributed to the workers and peasants through their organizations in the mohallas, chawls, and villages. If the workers and peasants were in power, we would punish those responsible for such wanton destruction of the precious foodgrains which could go to feed the needy.
The struggle to establish a modern universal public distribution system, under the supervision and control of the working people and their organisations, must be stepped up.