grain drain

It is a reality that should make us hang our heads in shame. In a country where millions go hungry every day, where 5000 kids under the age of 5 die every day of malnutrition related diseases, we allow food grain to rot every year. The latest report comes at a time when the Government has rushed its Food Security Bill through an ordinance. In Bhogola, the wheat sacks are kept in the open and are completely getting drenched in the rain. The ones that are covered with polythene sheets are also not protected as these sheets are torn at places. Rotting grain is an old issue. Multiple articles and stories have appeared in the media over the years. In spite of Supreme Court orders and a plethora of social programmes that are rammed down our throats time and again, nothing has changed. India remains a poor country with pathetic roads, no electricity, insufficient and poorly run schools and abysmal health care. An interesting article explains in its own manner the reason for this immobility. Now we have all been 'gifted' the Food Security Bill, a supposed panacea for all the nutrition problems of the country. Yippee!!! I wonder how a given quantity of grains to 800 million people will solve malnutrition and address the problem of undernutrition.

Breaking News. I interrupt the flow of this post to share some terribly distressing news: 20 children under the age of 10 have died after consuming the midday meal served in their school. It seems the rice had some lethal pesticide in it. It seemed it may not have been properly washed. Whatever the reason, nothing can forgive this criminal Act.

The midday meal is also an important part of the said Bill. If they cannot get their act together now, what miracle will occur to change things. Maybe one should have set one's house in order before conjuring new plans. Malnourished children die of diseases that are preventable. Maybe we should look at this more closely rather than dole out more suspicious hand outs. It is all in the name of garnering vote banks: the ruling party brings an ordinance, the opposition will not dare oppose it in spite of its flaws as every one needs to woo the poor. There are sufficient schemes in place the intelligent and honest approach would have been to simply ensure every one of these work adequately. But that is not the way things work in our country. You need new programmes to add new avenues for corrupt people.

The new ordinance has flaws. The obvious one is that a certain amount of grain given to a person does not solve malnutrition which is the main bane of the country. This needs preventive medical care, sanitation and safe drinking water. To curb undernutrition the 9 months and 1000 first days of a child are crucial. Early malnutrition cannot be reversed.

This bill is no magic pill. It is just one more political gimmick aimed at retaining power. When will we see politicians truly willing to put their house in order?