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

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From 50 Years Ago: Food Policy: Capitulation Without Showdown

Vol VI, No 16 APRIL 17, 1971

Food Policy: Capitulation Without Showdown

Those who had expected the greatly strengthened political authority of the Centre to be reflected in its stance on the rabi foodgrains procurement prices issue had surely misjudged the bases of that greater authority. It was unlikely that the Central Government would so early jilt those very State party-bosses and landed interests that had helped it to consolidate its position. So, rather than go through the ritual lip-service to the Agricultural Prices Commission’s recommendations at the Chief Ministers’ Conference (due to be held as we go to press) and put up a public show of difference with the States, the Union Cabinet has announced that its consensus is to maintain wheat procurement prices. The States had already conveyed their stand — through conferences of agriculturists as in Tamil Nadu, through Union Minister of State Shinde as when he went for exchange of views’ with Andhra Pradesh, or through public statements as by the UP Chief Minister, Kamlapati Tripathi. The dual purpose of the APC’s recommendation was to mitigate the burden on the poorer sections of the community and to help maintain the price-line. The APC has used these twin arguments before. This time there were special considerations. True, 1970-71’s production has been estimated to be as high as 106 million tonnes—for which reason PL 480 imports are scheduled to be lower by about a million tonnes in 1971. Even so, 40 per cent of the offtake from the public distribution network is of imported grains, which are cheaper and help depress issue prices.

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