07/11/07

let them eat cake

There are currently four major schemes in operation that essentially aim at fighting hunger and food insecurity; namely,PDS(public distribution system),ICDS (integrated child development scheme), MDM ( mid-day meal scheme) and most importantly NREGS(national rural employment guarantee scheme).There would be very few Indians who would have to skip meals if we could just make these four schemes corruption- free. [...] PDS and NREGS are two most important schemes to fight hunger and ensure food security. But , what is the actual performance of these schemes on the ground ? According to a recent report of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution , “In the last three years, Rs 31,585.98 crore worth of wheat and rice meant for the poorest of the poor was siphoned off from the public distribution system(PDS). Last year alone, Rs 11,336.98 crore worth of food grain that the government is supposed to distribute to the needy at subsidised prices found its way into the market illegally. Every year, India's poor are cheated out of 53.3% of wheat and 39% of rice meant for them...There is largescale diversion of PDS grain across India… Exceptions apart, the poor in India simply can’t trust the government to deliver them food supplies.
i know there still are people around who believe the nregs is the best thing to happen to india after jnu..i hope they find this annoying:
Delhi- based CEFS(Centre for Environment and Food Security) has carried out a survey in 100 villages of Orissa and found that of Rs 733 crore spent under NREGS during 2006-7, over Rs 500 crore has been siphoned off and misappropriated by the government officials of executing agencies. Moreover, as against the claims of Orissa Government that no needy household in 19 NREGS districts of the state was denied wage employment and each needy household was given an average 57 days of wage employment under NREGS, CEFS study has revealed that large number of needy households were denied not only jobs but even job cards, and not more than 5 days of average wage employment has been given to each needy family in these 19 NREGS districts. We have found that more than 75 per cent of the NREGS funds spent during last year have been siphoned off. However, we are absolutely certain that there are thousands of villages in Orissa where scale of misappropriation is 80-90 per cent. It is distressing to note that there has been open and participatory loot of NREGS funds in Orissa. We have reasons to believe that the entire state administration is party to this loot.
read more here. and i'd told you so here and here and here and here and here.

4 comments:

Anoop Saha said...

Simple question. Whose fault is it if these services are not delivered properly by the government and the middlemen? Why are they not punished? Why should they, whose lives can be bettered by these schemes be punished by stopping all welfare schemes? Did you check the current ration riots in West Bengal. There people are actually demanding services to be delivered efficiently, and the government is killing them with bullets. Similarly the government of Chhattisgarh has stopped all ration shops in south Bastar, because of the Salwa Judum campaign. This became the singlemost driving factor behind the migration of a large number of (approximately 100000 people) adivasi families in northern AP. With RTI and strong action against violators, and power behind the people, many of these schemes will actually bear fruit.

kuffir said...

anoop,

i admire the passion you put into defending the indefensible..whose fault? it's the government's fault, of course. and a large part of the blame goes back to those who pushed for these kind of programmes- aware political, social activists..but we can't really blame them- their intentions were good (whatever the quality of their ideas), just as yours are. those running the government should've known better.. especially when they were launching new schemes such as the nregs. they should've learnt from earlier experiences.

they should've learnt from the experience of the pds. the pds is slightly older than free india. the govt buys up around 15% of the national wheat/rice output from the farmers. that means, the pds can reach around 10-15% of the people's staple food requirements. now this report that i quoted says more than half of it was stolen. and we're not talking of rotting/wastage etc..so, effectively the pds satisfies 5-7% of the people's needs. and that's a very optimistic figure... do you think the people depend on the pds for their needs? the pds satisfies the ideological cravings of certain self-absorbed sections of our articulate classes more than the country's hunger.

or they should've learnt from the experience of the nregs in its previous avatar.. remember, the scheme's history dates back thirty years- it was first launched in maharashtra more than thirty years ago. if it had worked in maharashtra, there'd be no starvation deaths in nandurbar and gadchiroli now, right?

'why are they not punished?'why don't you ask aruna roy, jean dreze, praful bidwai, jayati ghosh, and hundreds of others in the left intellectual/poliitical/media/activist circles? why don't you ask them why they'd pushed for the nregs when they knew fully well that the pds/ffw programmes were corruption ridden? when they knew fully well that no one had ever been punished in the past? why don't you ask for punishment for them?

'There people are actually demanding services to be delivered efficiently, and the government is killing them with bullets.'
correction: those people are demanding food- it doesn't matter who delivers it. don't attribute your view that * only the government* should deliver foodgrains directly through its redistribution arms like the pds to those poor rioters.

'Similarly the government of Chhattisgarh has stopped all ration shops in south Bastar, because of the Salwa Judum campaign.'
this myopic view of recent history has to be corrected too. the naxalites could gain ground in chhattisgarh because the government was not delivering to them- its chosen method of serving the people, and the ideology behind it was not working. redistribution didn't happen- the rations shops didn't work.. and salwa judum was brought into further screw up the situation..if the ration shops and such other governance related issues had worked in the first place, there'd have been no naxalites and consequently no salwa judum. and no migration.

rti? that's adding insult to the injury caused by pds/nregs etc..

Anoop Saha said...

You haven't answered my question. If it is not the fault of the poorest that the government services are not delivered to them properly, why should they be punished by withdrawing those basic services? If the bureaucrat or trader or a contractor is siphoning off all the money allocated for the people, why and how is it the fault of the social activists? You name Jean Dreze. The first thing that Dreze and the right to food campaign is focusing on is government accountability. Through awareness campaign, public hearings, court cases, they are trying to not only make people aware of their rights, they are also trying to make the state punish the guilty. The problem is that a vast section of our citizen has been denied their rights or such a long time that they find it really amusing to know that they have the power to question any government servant.

Without going into the reason why it didn't work, you are advocating the total paradigm shift. But can we trust the private sector to deliver when the public services have failed. I won't bet on it, not only based on previous experience but also on logic. We will loose even the basic right to accountability that we have now.

kuffir said...

'You haven't answered my question.'

i haven't? read my first paragraph..it's the government's fault. and the fault of supporters of such schemes like aruna roy, dreze and their supporters like you..people like those should be punished first- the babus and other middlemen should be tried later..

'If it is not the fault of the poorest that the government services are not delivered to them properly, why should they be punished by withdrawing those basic services?'

read my second paragraph- the people of india don't depend on scams like the pds or the nregs for their needs..it's corrupt bureaucrats and contractors on the one hand, and woollyheaded politicians and activists like roy etc.,and their supporters like you on the other who need these schemes..

accountability? mr.saha, let's take a reality check here, please- more than half the pds grain is stolen every year.. and the guilty go unpunished.
around 75% of nregs funds are stolen..and no one is punished. and you are trying to tell me(and yourself) that the rti is going to empower poor indians so that this won't happen again?

'Through awareness campaign, public hearings, court cases, they are trying to not only make people aware of their rights, they are also trying to make the state punish the guilty.'
half the pds grain is stolen, 75% of nregs funds are stolen...who were punished? how much of the loot was recovered? do you think there were no public hearings, court cases, awareness schemes etc when the earlier schemes like antyodaya, food-for-work-programme etc were launched?

mr.saha, you 'll have to realize that the poor will become aware of their rights through the same process as you- through access to good quality education right from childhood, access to adequate healthcare, water, sanitation and other basic public services etc., schemes like the pds and the egs etc., take much-needed public funds away from primary education, healthcare, sanitation etc.,

'Without going into the reason why it didn't work, you are advocating the total paradigm shift.'
mr.saha, i've told you quite clearly how old some of these schemes are..the pds is more than sixty years old. the nregs is more than thirty years old. experience tells you that these schemes are bound to fail- not 5% or !5 % but more than 50% of the funds allocated for these schemes are usually stolen.. the people would be better served if these funds were used for other purposes like education, sanitation etc as i pointed out earlier..

'But can we trust the private sector to deliver when the public services have failed.'

what do you mean- can we trust the private sector? i've pointed out quite clearly that the pds serves only 5-7% of the food needs of the people in this country. which means 93-95% are already served by the private sector. i wouldn't call pds, nregs etc public services- at least not as vital as education, health, sanitation, water etc., a sensible govt focuses on a few vital issues and delivers better..muddle-headed govts like we've had since independence spread themselves thin over several dozen areas and deliver poorly on all fronts..

'I won't bet on it, not only based on previous experience but also on logic.'

mr. saha, this is your prejudice speaking, not your experience..or logic. logic should tell you that more than 100% of india's food is produced by 'private' farmers and, as i told you in the previous paragraph, more than 93-95% is distributed through the private sector.

 
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