Thomas Says Merry X'mas with Food Bill Cakes
By Cithara Paul - NEW DELHI
Published: 22nd Dec 2013 07:36:59 AM
Empress Marie Antoinette infamously said “Let them eat cake” when told that the peasants had no bread to feed upon. Closer home this Christmas, Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s dream Food Security Act, aimed at eradicating hunger and propelling the Congress party back to power, is moving on hot cakes; literally.
Food Minister K V Thomas, in a novel way of selling Madam’s dream, has decided to etch the salient features of the Food Security Act on 2,000 Christmas plum cakes which are being delivered to the political who’s who across the country.
The yellow cake wrapper with Christmas and New Year wishes is addressed from Shirley Thomas, the wife of the food minister and the minister himself. And amidst pictures of Christmas bells and candles you get to read the salient features of the Food Security Act.
The Food Minister is planning to deliver the Food Security Cake to all UPA ministers, state Chief Ministers, MPs and regional Congress leaders.
Beginning with the slogan “Food Security: ensuring Prosperity to All”, the cake wrapper lists the salient features of the Act including “Free nutritional food for pregnant women and children”, “Ration card to be issued in the name of the eldest female in the family”, 5 kg food grains per person per month, to the controversial maternity benefit of `6,000 for pregnant women. This last provision was in fact opposed by the Finance Ministry and the Health Ministry on the ground that would upset the two-child policy of the Government. They had argued that it should be restricted to the first two pregnancies but Sonia Gandhi had her way and it found its way to the Bill in an unlimited manner.
“We thought it’s a good way of earning publicity and goodwill for the Food Security Act. It will reach every nook and corner of the country through the political representatives,” said an official with the ministry who said the cake will go to every MP irrespective of his or her political affiliation.
“It will be a sweet start for the Food Security Act,” he added.
That said, the Food Security Act is still getting the final touches. The naming ceremony of the Act, where it will be named after Indira Gandhi, is also set to take place soon.
“The delay is because all states haven’t got their PDS system ready for rolling out such a massive scheme,” the official said. But it is learnt that the Congress is deliberately delaying the roll out as it does not want the state governments to take credit for the scheme. It may not be just a coincidence that the allocation of foodgrains under the Act has so far been made to Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi, all Congress ruled states till recently.
The Food Security cakes, around 2,000 of them, were baked by Elite Foods Pvt Ltd, a well-known baker in Kerala. Each weighs 700gm and going by current prices, should cost between `150 and `200 each. The cakes are being paid for from the fund meant for publicity of the Food Security Act.