Food security: economists challenge official panel’s conclusions

Shanta Kumar committee recommendation to curtail PDS based on “motivated data fudging”

yogesh

Yogesh Rajput | February 3, 2015



A group of economists have challenged the government move to scale down the ambit of the food security initiative, arguing that leakages in the public distribution system (PDS) are not as bad as an official committee has concluded.

A ‘high-level committee on restructuring of FCI’, headed by Shanta Kumar, submitted its report to prime minister Narendra Modi last month, recommending a curtailment of PDS. For this, it argued, on the basis of intricate data analysis, that there were huge leakages and pilferages making the PDS inefficient.

“There have been several studies earlier which indicated large leakages in PDS. In a performance evaluation report of the Targeted PDS, the Planning Commission (2005) noted that 58 percent of subsidized grains distributed through TPDS do not reach BPL families. The CACP Discussion Paper 2 (2012) on National Food Security Bill points to leakages in PDS to the tune of 54.1 percent in 2004-05, and 40.4 percent in 2009-10, based on NSSO data. Our estimates based on NSSO data of 2011 indicate a leakage of about 46.7 percent (Annexure 4). In many States leakage ranges from 70 to 90 percent.”

However, noted economists Jean Dreze and Reetika Khera told the press on Tuesday that the leakages were actually coming down over the years, and stood at 42 percent in 2011-12 – down from 54 percent in 2004-05, based on analysis of publicly available data. They said this reduction was largely thanks to reforms initiated by various state governments, leading to a dramatic plugging of loopholes – Bihar, for example, curtailed its PDS leakages from 90.9 percent in 2005-05 to 24.4 percent in 2011-12, not to mention the famous success story of Chhattisgarh where the figure came down from 51.8 percent to 9.3 percent in the same period.


Indeed, the India Human Development Surveys (IHDS) of 2004-05 and 2011-12 place the leakages at 49 percent and 32 percent.
Going by the National Sample Survey (NSS) figures for 2011-12, Dreze and Khera pointed out, the calculation goes like this:

*PDS per capita per month (kg), rice+wheat/rural+urban: 2.06
*Population    (million): 1210   
*(a) Total PDS purchase (lakh tonne): 301
*(b) PDS offtake, including special allocations (lakh tonne): 514

This leaves a gap of 42 percent, whereas the official report considers only the total number of ration card holders, instead of the total population, to arrive at a higher estimate of PDS diversions.

Himanshu, from the centre for economic studies and planning at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, termed the PDS as the single biggest public programme accessed by the largest number of people, and in this light called the conclusions of the official report “wishy-washy”, “data fudging” and the result of a “motivated agenda rather than serious, academic work”.

Sonalde Desai, senior fellow at National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), New Delhi, and, professor of sociology at University of Maryland (which supports IHDS), highlighted the fact that more and more people were using PDS now.

Comments

 

Other News

Yogi in politics, TN industries shift base and, how to end the Maharaja’s misery

Everyone in Yogi Adityanath`s office declares that Yogi’s political career is founded on the work carried out from there, first when he was mahant of the influential temple, and then as an MP. Vijendra Singh, who works at the office, says “It’s because of these letters that Yogiji has n

A fifth of Rs 29 lakh crore are NPAs

Banks have advanced a staggering Rs 29,46,060 crore to the industrial sector, of which Rs 6.93 lakh crore are non-performing assets (NPAs).   Finance minister Arun Jaitley informed

Demonetisation not meant to change cash use by people: Harvard economist

 Here are 10 things that Kenneth Rogoff, Thomas D Cabot professor of public policy, department of economics, Harvard University, and author of `The Curse of Cash`, said about demonetisation at the Delhi Economics Conclave 2017: 1. The core idea for demone

Ashok Malik is press secy to president

As Ram Nath Kovind readies to take charge as president, the government is forming his team, naming three officials.    Ashok Malik, former journalist and commentator known for his pro-right views, will serve as the press secretary to the president. Bharat Lal, Gujarat&rs

To understand Modi saga, look at the Vaghela story

Back in the early 1990s, Shankarsinh Vaghela was (or at least perceived to be) more popular of the two people running the BJP show in Gujarat. Today, the other man is the prime minister, and Vaghela is reduced to a footnote – albeit an important one – in the Narendra Modi saga. &n

‘Not just Muslims, everyone is in fear and awe of Yogi Adityanath’

At 70, Dr Aziz Ahmad, a well-known homeopath and politician now with Congress, still has a busy practice in Abu Bazaar, in old Gorakhpur. During working hours, the lane in which he has a clinic becomes jam-packed with patients and their vehicles. People speak of naming the lane after him.





Video

कश्मीर पर तीसरे पक्ष की मध्यस्थता स्वीकार नहीं - महबूबा

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter