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

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50 Years Ago: Regulatory, Not Full, Control.

Editorial from Volume IX, No 47, November 23, 1957. 

One point that the Asoka Mehta Foodgrain Enquiry Committee is at pains to emphasise throughout its report, released this week, is that “the food problem is likely to remain with us for a long time to come”. It is all right for us to aim at making t he count r y self suf ficient in food as in many other basic commodities; it is in fact commendable if concerted efforts are made towards the attainment of this laudable objective. But this desire to become self sufficient, it has been observed, tends to delude us whenever there is an occasional deceptive spurt in production of foodgrains. Because the country registered a phenomenally big crop in 1953-54, the control machinery in the country was dismantled without taking suitable precautionary measures for meeting a less buoyant food position in subsequent years. In fact, there was actual talk of the country becoming a net exporter of foodgrain. Not that the wise heads who could see beyond the immediate were not there to advise the Government not to see beyond the then cheerful food situation but because of the general lack of proper long-term perspective at the top that such advice did not cut much ice.

The Central Food Ministry proposed in 1954 when controls were being completely abolished that as precautionary measures (a) a minimum reserve stock of 15 lakh tons should always be maintained; (b) a skeleton of food administration should be continued in every State; and (c) the Government should make purchases in the open market at reasonable prices wit h a view to building up buffer stocks. The first two proposals were accepted in principle, though in a number of States even food departments were completely disbanded on grounds of economy and there was also a feeling in some quarters that a reserve stock of 15 lakh tons was too high.

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