Monday, April 2, 2012

Food Security - All that is wrong with our polity.

I was talking to a friend of mine, who has been working in the public health sector to understand a report recently brought out by the Public Health Foundation of India about rising non communicable diseases, especially those brought in by trans fats. She explained patiently (contrary to her nature of blowing the fuse off with dimwits like me) why people are already malnutritioned and stunted due to lack of vitamins and nutrients by the time they are able to earn and how they are interested in getting 'tasty' fatty food with their incomes, which translates into exposure to huge amounts of trans fats. This led me to ask her the question then - why is the food security bill so hamstrung with carbohydrate exposure when people need more of the other essential nutrients?
Well, her answer was clear and concise. The food security bill is a monstrosity that is going to be shoved down people's food, which is not going to do anything different from what the aid agencies are already doing in India. All we will achieve, I concluded, was another spate of taxes and retrospective taxation schemes to fund these idiosyncrasies. And this stems from a particular problem. Our political class loves to portray itself as pro-poor. Ironically no one calls themselves as pro-people. There are vested interests, as Tavleen Singh repeatedly points out, in keeping people poor, for they are desperate, and desperate people do not ask questions.
Long live populism; long live Indian democracy.

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