I’ve come across those people, who still support subsidies for the reason that it brings food to the table. They share the view with famous social entrepreneur, Mohammad Younis who believes that adding an extra meal is equivalent to development. I do agree that our nation is plagued with malnourishment and faulty dietary patterns. But are subsidies a panacea to this challenge?
A recent article found in The Week magazine gas made me think. According to the report by Grassroots Research and Advocacy Movement, a trader mafia is in operation in Gadag district of Karnataka which abuses subsidised distribution system. Families those are well off to afford purchasing the grains from open market and those individuals who holds ghost cards have been abusing the system looking for short term gains. Little do they know, every penny extorted from the state exchequer will bit them back as additional taxation. Poor Indian Middle Class, the one that carries the weight of Indian Economy.
Starting point of reforms should be better identification of beneficiaries. E-governance initiatives, leveraging ICT potential will bring down food bills to a large extend. Digitalisation holds significance from one more perspective. Preservation of traditional grain varieties and promotion of local food habits. It is backed by scientific research that the communities that continue to include local produce in their diet, have shown better numbers in health and nutrition indicators. Hence, digitalization of TPDS system will help the administration to micromanage people’s preferences such as preserving jowar roti as staple food of northern Karnatka. Special quotas and discounts should be provided for local produce and seed varieties to preserve genetic diversity and meeting the food security.
A faulty subsidised system have distorted the traditional labour system which included remuneration in the form of food and wages by replacing it with a system where labourers demand higher wages since they are already getting grains at throw away prices.