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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Food Water and Air Economics

In the past few days we have heard a lot about Food rotting at FCI godowns, the subsequent direction of the SC to distribute the food amongst the poor and finally the debate about the possible means to distribute the food. Despite the PM saying that distributing food free of cost might be a disincentive for farmers, many ways were suggested by various political parties to distribute food to the poor. For Eg. extra grains can be allocated to the PDS of the poorest districts of the country free of cost, poor people can be distributed food coupons which can be redeemed against grain etc.

All these methods, although being practical could not be effectively applied because they did not have proper checks & balances in place. One could not stop these grains from going into the black market. It is almost impossible to build a system where the giver is not benefited without giving a benefit back to the receiver. Thus, the receiver must pay in some or the other way to receive that something, this something is food here. This raises doubts about the effectiveness of the Food Security Bill that the government is proposing.

All these deliberations make me question our development as a society. Food is something that nature gives us free of cost! So, in all these years of development have we actually simplified the way we live or we have actually made our lives complex(like we first develop complex financial systems and later use software to simplify them,learning those softwares is also a big problem in itself,we call this development). I do not understand where this kind of development will lead us to.

We might not accept the blame for making food as a salable commodity because we cannot conceive of a modern system where food could be free. We would attribute free food to be a concept of nomadic prehistoric life where man would eat whatever he got. Free food in the present day would only be considered Charity! I also do not have any chronology of facts to show how food got commoditised. But, i see a ongoing change which is comparable to commoditisation of food. We can also extrapolate this to the possible future.

Commoditisation of Water and Future Commoditisation of Air:-

One interesting fact i observed is that we can survive without food for weeks, without water for days and without air for only a few minutes. Their commoditisation is also happening in the same order. It is not far away when we will face problems similar to distribution of food with distribution of water. People will find it illogical ,"economically", to distribute water free of cost, because, then water will be a salable commodity,freely available water will not be consumable by anyone,many of us even today cannot drink non-bottled water!People might be dying of thirst and the PM would say that "it is against the basic tenets of economics to give water free of cost"! If we further extrapolate it to commoditisation of Air. I can easily assume that people can be held at ransom for supply of Air. Also, biggest charity could be distributing Air "Free of Cost"!

We might not be in a position to fix the responsibility for commditisation of food,but, we can fix the responsibility for commoditisation of water and future commoditisation of air. This can surely be attributed to incessant industrialisation and madness for growth which leads to pollution. I feel that these would have been the reasons for food commoditisation as well,but, would prefer refraining from being judgemental.

Looking at the current scenario,we can say,faster the rate of  growth,faster will be the commoditisation. Also, in the same lines,"if the rebellion in the period of food insecurity can be so fierce,imagine its ferocity when a man gets devoid of water and air".Also, if time for commoditisation of water is comparable to the rate of growth then,imagine how fast will we commoditise water and air. Thus, we can judge how far are we from trouble! Is this what we mean by growth and development? I would like to end with a famous north american saying:-

“Only when the last tree has been felled, the last river poisoned and the last fish caught, man will know, that he cannot eat money”.

Note:- I am not a growth and development cynic. But, i find these issues genuine enough to be thought about.


  1. An interesting fact I'd like to quote here bhai. I recently got to know about the fact that rotten grains are not a financial loss to the government. This grain in fact is bought for processing alcohol and is bought at higher rates than what the grain would have gotten sold while in good condition...

  2. That is right, Maharastra government recently reduced the duty on using grain to produce liquor. But here my point is about distributing food to the needy is a problem created by us.