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The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Thursday criticised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for rejecting the Supreme Court's suggestion to distribute rotting foodgrains to the poor.
An editorial in the party organ People's Democracy described as 'very tenuous' the prime minister's argument that such free distribution would kill the farmer's incentive to produce, thus creating new problems.
'This is a very tenuous argument,' the magazine said. 'The issue here is about distribution of foodgrains already procured by the government.
'The incentive to the farmer lies in the guaranteed minimum support price at which the government procures. Once the farmer sells his produce, the manner in which the government disposes that produce is not an issue that concerns or influences the farmers' productive capacities.
'As long as the government procures, there is no disincentive for the farmers. This argument, thus, holds no water.'
In an interaction with editors Monday, Manmohan Singh asked the Supreme Court not to get into policy formulation.
The apex court had observed: 'It is time we develop a culture of zero tolerance towards corruption to ensure two square meals for the hungry and the poor. What will be the choice of the government - allow foodgrains to rot or give it free to the poor and hungry. The choice is obvious.'
The journal went on: 'Given the prime minister's attitude, it is clear that the effective and meaningful implementation of food security, if ever it comes about, will take a long time.'
It pointed out that India today had one of the most unconscionable levels of chronic hunger and depravation.
'With 46 percent child malnutrition, India rates higher than sub-Saharan Africa and Bangladesh. Nearly 40 percent of our adult population has a Body Mass Index of less than 18.5 which implies chronic energy deficiency of epic proportions.
'An effective food security network can only come about through a universal public distribution system that ensures the availability of foodgrains at affordable rates for the most hungry.'