The late C Subramanyam, former Union Minister for Food, must be turning in his grave at the sad state of Food Corporation of India which he created almost half a century back out of the Central Food Department.
It was a bold decision as can be seen from its performance during the first decade of its existence, when veterans like T A Pai and K T Chandy were at its helm.
FCI’s present condition when foodgrain is rotting in its premises, actually godowns where quality and quantity only go down, and its inability to grapple with many other problems is a great disservice to agriculture scientists like Norman Borlaug and M S Swaminathan and the hard working farmers of the North.
At this rate, they may be forced to switch to commercial crops.
Gunnar Myrdal would have written a sequel to his ‘Asian Drama’ had he witnessed the present situation of plenty and starvation.
Ministers like KV Thomas are helpless since they have other pressing problems and aloof from reality.
This writer had the (mis)fortune to see the working of FCI at close quarters.
It can be said that it is due to utter mismanagement and ineptitude that precious foodgrain is becoming unfit for human consumption.
How is it that FCI authorities fail to plan procurement, movement and storage and distribution taking into consideration various factors? During the eighties they helped private parties to build godowns with soft loans and favourable terms for hiring.
After taking full advantage of the system, most of them refused to rent it to FCI.
How many other hired godowns have been surrendered by FCI even when it was pressed for storage space? Contrast the present situation with that of the fifties when we were hand- to-mouth with imported stocks.
When Prime Minister Nehru visited the modern silos at Hapur (UP) during the late fifties, he was furious to know that the silos were holding US wheat.
Well, the rest is history.
Now nobody has a clue as to what to do with foodgrain produced here.
There are technologies and expert knowhow for coping with the situation.
FCI has a competent quality control staff who may not have the final word about action to be taken.
The government should have ‘will’ to pull it over the eyes of the public and media.
(The views in the article are the author’s own)