[Marxistindia] First campaign booklet released

news from the cpi(m) marxistindia at cpim.org
Mon Mar 23 15:57:15 IST 2009

                                                          March 23, 2009

Press Release

Comrade Brinda Karat, Member of the Polit Bureau today released the
first pamphlet in a series of 15 pamphlets/folders that the CPI(M) will
be bringing out in connection with the 15th Lok Sabha elections. The
highlights of the pamphlet on Price Rise, Hunger and Malnutrition are
given below.

One of the most striking failures of the Congress-led government has
been the inability to check the persistent rise in prices of food and
other essential commodities and ensure food security for our people.
Shamefully, the UPA government is now claiming great success in
controlling inflation, at a time when the entire global economy is
spiraling rapidly into recession. Inflation in prices of food articles
are 8% and foodgrains are 11% higher than a year ago, respectively. At
the retail level in Delhi between March 2008 and March 2009 sugar went
up by 47 per cent, tur by 31 per cent and onions by a whopping 111 per
cent. All this makes the slogan of Jai Ho sound hollow.

Endemic hunger continues to afflict a large proportion of the Indian
population. The International Food Policy Research Institute ranks India
66 out of the 88 developing countries. This is not surprising, since
latest NSS data show that 76 per cent of the total population has
inadequate calorie and food consumption. More than half of India’s women
and three-quarters of children are anaemic and one in every three adult
Indian has chronic energy deficiency.

The obvious strategy to tackle hunger and malnutrition was to
universalize and strengthen the Public Distribution System, expand the
Anna Antodaya Yojana, act firmly against hoarders and black-marketers,
ban futures trading in essential items and food, etc. But the UPA
government did the exact opposite through its ill-conceived neo-liberal
food policy, which favoured agribusiness and private traders, belying
its promises to the aam aadmi.

     1. It is shameful that today, even as the Government’s granaries
        are overflowing with a surplus stockholding 84 per cent above
        buffer norms, kitchens of vast sections of our people remain
     2. The Government cut allocations of food grains to the States by
        325 lakh tones or by 73.4 per cent between 2006 and 2008, mainly
        under the APL category. 
     3. Furthermore, there has been a cut in household quota for APL
        from 35 kg per family per month to 20 kg.
     4. It continued the policy of dividing and excluding the poor
        through targeting: The Targeted PDS scheme in a predominantly
        poor country like India means demarcating not between the rich
        and the poor, but between different categories of the poor at
        ridiculous destitution levels of Rs 11.80 per person per day for
        rural and Rs. 17.80 per person per day.
     5. Tardy expansion in Anna Antodaya YoIGHLIGHTS OF THE PAMPHLET ON
     8. jana beneficiaries by an average of just 10 lakhs a year 
     9. Concerted attempt to increase prices of foodgrain in the public
        distribution system, prevented by the CPI(M) 
    10. Despite production not declining in this period, the Government
        jeopardized self-reliance in food security by its import of 5.5
        million tonnes of poor quality contaminated wheat from big
        agri-business and traders in 2006 and 2007 at twice the price it
        was prepared to pay to Indian farmers.
    11. Pandering to the speculation and hoarding by big traders and
        global and national agri-business, Parliamentary Committee’s
        recommendation to ban future trading in agricultural
    12. Cut down on food subsidies when a big increase was required.
        During the UPA regime (2004-2009) the average share for food
        security allocation on all Programmes has stayed below 1 % of
        GDP (current prices), at a time when 16 countries increased
        their subsidies from near zero to up to 2.7 per cent of GDP as a
        response to higher food prices. 

The pamphlet will shortly be available at the election campaign website
at: http://vote.cpim.org

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