ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by M H SuryanarayanaSubscribe to M H Suryanarayana

Food Security Misconceived Policies

era, this problem has been swept aside by the new orthodoxy, according to which the role of the ethnographer is to record and reproduce the multiplicity of Native' voices rather than to search for some kind of objective understanding a retreat from the 'burden of authorship', in Geertz's words. Both books intend to allow women to speak for themselves, but in the ways they arc allowed to 'speak' it is clear that it is the ethnographer who is speaking through THIS is a collection of essays based on a conference on 'Alternative Food Policies in Eastern and Southern Africa' in August 1993. The main theme was the relationship between food policy, food security and poverty. The volume is multi-disciplinary in approach. The authors include researchers, policy-makers and NGOs with considerable exposure to pastoral production, 'indigenous knowledge' and the environment. The significance of their studies for a continent exposed to frequent drought, soil erosion and other environmental hazards can hardly be overemphasised. Africa is the only region in the world where per capita food production has been declining tor almost two decades. The average calorie intakes are much below the standard nutritional requirements.

Economic Reforms, Nature and Poverty

Recent studies show an increase inpoverty in the wake of the 1991 economic reforms. Explanations for these findings range from insufficient reliability of the NSS data base to 'nature' or bad harvest and only indirectly to the reforms. This paper re-examines these hypotheses using the same data source combined with official macro estimates on net cereal availability, changes in cereal stocks, PDS allocations and offtakes of cereals.

Some Experiments with Food Stamps

M H Suryanarayana The Indian government is considering food stamp programme as an alternative to the public distribution system in order to reduce the budget deficit with least social cost. This article recounts the experiences of such a programme in the US, Sri Lanka, Zambia and Jamaica and concludes that given the lack of proper socio-economic data on the Indian populace, it would be wise to confine the programme to urban locales.

Call for Adjustments in Structural Adjustment

effectiveness of price reforms due to infrastructural constraints and market rigidities, weak supply responses and inadequacy of prior policies and hence emphasise the need for complementary policies such as public investment and sector specific interventions; and the fourth part contains an overview of the adjustment experience and indicates some options to deal effectively with the inefficiencies in the adjustment mechanisms.

In Pursuit of Food Security

In Pursuit of Food Security M H Suryanarayana Increasing Access to Food: The Asian Experience edited by D S Tyagi and Vijay Shankar Vyas Sage Publications, New Delhi, 1990; pp 455, Rs 250.

PDS Reform and Scope for Commodity-Based Targeting

The suggestions for PDS reform based on commodity orientation stem largely from the general impression that (i) the commodity basket of the PDS is weighted in favour of commodities which figure prominently in the budgets of the middle and richer income groups. and (ii) coarse cereals are consumed largely by the poor and hence an approach to ensure targeting would be to change the commodity composition of the PDS in favour of coarse foodgrains.

Urban Bias in PDS

Urban Bias in PDS M H Suryanarayana DISTRIBUTION of foodgrains through the public distribution system (PDS) is widely believed to be concentrated in urban areas or, in other words, PDS is believed to have an urban bias,1 Most of the existing studies are based on official data on offtake of foodgrains for the PDS and are somewhat outdated. However, a recent analysis |Dev and Suryanarayana (DS hereafter) 1991) of the data [National Sample Survey Organisation 1990] on purchases from the PDS vis-a-vis open market from the National Sample Survey (NSS) for the year 1986-1987 revealed a different picture. Examining the PDS quantity purchased per market dependent population in rural and urban areas, inter alia, the study concluded that the question of bias in the PDS is no longer one of rural versus urban at the all - India level and for most of the stales, Howes and Jha (HJ hereafter) (1992) contest our methodology and arrive at the opposite conclusion that the PDS is urban biased. Providing the rationale for the chosen criteria and hence our conclusions, this note points to the shortcomings of IlTs criticisms. Mus response, though belated, is pertinent since these methodological issues have a bearing on the policy debate on the proposed revamping of the PDS, PDS is an important instrument of ensuring food security through the market mechanism. Food security has to do with both availability of food and the ability to acquire it. PDS aims at ensuring food availability at reasonable prices and hence can guard against food insecurity caused by instability in food prices and production. The ability to acquire food, on the other hand, concerns policies towards employment generation and poverty alleviation. Therefore, the appropriateness of policy packages for ensuring food security in a given sector depends upon the size and composition of the population. It is in this light that the PDS and the question of bias, if any, has to be evaluated using measures normalized with respect to appropriate variables.

Revamping PDS Some Issues and Implications

Revamping PDS: Some Issues and Implications S Geetha M H Suryanarayana This paper attempts to answer the following questions: (i) What have been the objectives of the PDS and have they changed in successive five-year plans? (ii) Is there any disparity among the states in terms of food distributed under the PDS? If yes, what is the disparity has it changed over the plan periods and which are the states that have to make concerted efforts to improve the PDS? (iii) If there had been proper targeting of the PDS only towards the population below the poverty line, what would have been the quantum of food distributed, the position in individual states, the total subsidy and the improvement in the per capita consumption of the poor?

Is PDS Urban Biased and Pro-Rich-An Evaluation

Is PDS Urban Biased and Pro-Rich? An Evaluation S Mahendra Dev M H Suryanarayana The performance of the public distribution system in India has come in for severe criticism on the grounds that it is urban biased and that it benefits by and large the middle and upper income groups in the urban areas. This study attempts to evaluate the validity of these criticisms using the latest available NSS data on utilisation of the public distribution system. The study concludes that the debate is no longer one of urban versus rural in most of the states but whether the PDS serves the purpose of protecting the vulnerable sections of society.

On the Reliability of NSS Data

M H Suryanarayana N S Iyengar This paper is addressed to two specific questions: How far are comparisons between the NSS and CSO estimates valid? Does there exist any other basis for the doubts generally expressed about the reliability of NSS estimates? The nature of differences observed between NSS and CSO estimates of certain items of consumption is briefly discussed in Section II In Section III the authors examine the conceptual and methodological differences underlying these estimates and their comparability. Section IV is devoted to a discussion of the possible sources of bias in NSS estimates. The final section summarises the main conclusions.

On Poverty Indicators

On Poverty Indicators N S Iyengar M H Suryanarayana This paper outlines a simple approach to the estimation of the poverty line using the concentration curves which already exist. This approach is based on the assumption, quite plausible for Indian conditions, that the distribution of levels of living of households at and above the poverty line is positively skewed and log-normal The authors first set out their main assumptions and state some of the properties of the three- parameter log-normal distribution. An outline of the proposed methods of estimation is then given and a simple numerical example is worked out to illustrate the approach. Usng this approach, some further empirical results of economic significance, based on an analysis of the available National Sample Survey (NSS) data over a period of time, are presented. Finally, a brief summary of the major findings and limitations is given in the concluding section.

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