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

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Sugar Policy

spreading but the government is otherwise engaged. And it does not remain an exclusively rural story for long. When the crop fails, the marketed surplus too comes down. Prices rise in the market, traders work out their own operations analysis and determine the time- spacing of releases in a manner as would optimise their returns. Public procurement too shrinks, while the pressure on the public distribution system mounts. Once official stocks begin to get depleted at a fairly fast rate, the weekly per capita quota from the fair price shops and ration shops is cut. Even as prices rise sharply in the market, the urban poor discover that the fall-back of the public distribution system is no longer an assured category. As the lean season commences, the rural poor, having reached the end of the tether, begin to trek to towns, competition for morsels of food sets in, and you have the first glimpse of a near-famine condition, If you could be generous with the supply of foodgrains from the public distribution system, perhaps some of the distressed could be taken care of; if you could be generous with the food-for-work programme, perhaps some of the cityward movement cf the rural poor, which makes the chaos even more chaotic, could be avoided. But not if petty vindietive- ness intervenes, not if the ideology of the rich wins over the normal humanitarian instincts of a civilised government. The poor in those parts have not voted for us, why should we offer free or cheap foodgrains to them? The poor in those parts have not voted for us; if we supply the foodgrains, since the party deadly opposed to us will be in charge of the distribution of the grains, it will hog the credit, exclusively; so why should we? We would rather reduce the supply through the public distribution system, we would rather cut down on the food-for-work programme. If the consequence is a famine, what is to be done, the people in those parts of the country should have thought twice before voting against us.

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