Thursday, July 3, 2008

A Discourse on Food Security

Article 47 of the Constitution of India states that “the State shall regard raising the level of nutrition and standard of living of its people and improvement in public health among its primary duties”. Successive Five-Year Plans laid down the policies and strategies for achieving these goals
---- Tenth Five Year Plan, 2002-2007

In the past, a lot of emphasis (particularly in the 1960s and 1970s), was given on green revolution technology with much emphasis on the package--major irrigation projects, hybrid seeds, chemical fertilisers and pesticides, particularly to promote growth of agricultural output in the Western part of India, which later spread to the rest of India. Environmental and economic sustainability of the green revolution was questioned later. Green revolution further aggravated the problem of production relations that existed because of the feudal and semi feudal structure of the India society (not to speak about the case of zamindari). This sudden emphasis on agricultural production came when the 2nd Five Year Plan failed due to its much attention on industrial production. During the early 1950s, in India, community development programme, including extension services (which was sponsored by Ford Foundation) was given much attention. However, as per the critics, the programme could not do much since it relied too much on the advice of American sociologists (believing in modernisation paradigm and alien to Indian problems), on whom our first Prime Minister had too much faith. Reliance on external agencies (like World Food Programme and Food Agricultural Organisation) had been happening for getting technical and financial assistance. Some have also criticised that. Under the green revolution (which started after the IADP and IAAP in the early 1960s), there was much emphasis on growing up of high yielding varieties of wheat and rice (one should remember Norman Borlaug here), disregarding what impact it will have on those who rely on growing coarse cereals. Little emphasis was given to preserve indigenous varieties of seeds. We should also remember that even before the advent of green revolution, emphasis on growing cash crops like indigo, jute, tea, coffee, cotton, sugarcane et al came from the policies adopted by the then British Indian government for its vested interest of sustaining industrial revolution. Irrigation was developed in the Western part of India, by the Britishers. Promotion of railways (in the 19th century) for not only carrying foodgrains (for exports and may be for benevolent reasons--carrying food from food surplus to food deficit regions) but also for carrying arms, ammunitions and soldiers (remember the term Marshal race used by few army regiments), was also a part of the entire strategy. The Western metropolis (Britain, France et al) not only used cheap labour (in various forms such as indentured coolie labour in Fiji, Java, West Indies) from the peripheral nations to maintain its domination in markets for textiles, coffee and even spices, but also to maintain its balance of trade, if we talk from a political economic perspective. One should also talk about the case of the (in) famous Irish potato famine, and even the Bengal famine. One should also recall that after the Irish famine lot of migration took place to the newly white settled colony named America. Globalisation started long back, and not in the 1990s. But what happened in the 1990s was that the State (for the first time after Independence) started rolling back its support by reducing various forms of subsidies (on various grounds that it results in inefficiency, corruption, balance of payment crisis) resulting in the impoverishment not only of the landless and marginal farmers but also of the farmers from middle income groups. Dismantling of the Public Distribution System is just a part of the entire scenario (to reduce fiscal deficit and control inflation). Corporatisation of agriculture (by both national and international MNCs) also took place with policy recommendations that ceilings on land should be removed. This was done to make our agriculture export oriented. Reliance on GMOs (genetically modified organisms) also took place. Information technology came handy for such farms since that reduces transaction cost. Similarly, investment in infrastructure is emphasized since that promotes economic growth, reduces transportation and administration cost, and other related costs as per the mainstream economics. But one should also remember that some farms have started offering the farmers credit in advance provided they sell their product to them in the future (which reminds one about the putting out system that existed in Britain during the 19th century or the interlocking of factor markets). How much future and spot trading has really helped farmers (from all income and caste groups, and different land holding size) is a matter of controversy. The recent controversy or even in the past regarding impoverishment actually shows how media and even research groups are used by various lobbies of farmers and interest groups. The big question is what happened to poverty, distribution, inequality, and various forms of social evils that exists not only in the heart of rural India, but may be in an A class city? How far the past policies regarding trade reforms etc. have helped us? There should be clear cut discussion and understanding taking into account the present reality, the long term planning and our past track record in the current regime under the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The decade of 1990s saw the debate surrounding the contraction of public distribution system (PDS) in India where economists and social scientists of various camps (in relation to their stands with the IMF and World Bank policies) expressed their viewpoints in various journals, seminars and public meetings. The important areas which were touched during these discourses were: what one means by food adequacy, level of malnutrition, role of State and market in food allocation and distribution, impact of trade liberalization on the Indian food market (including producers, sellers and consumers) etc. To summarise such a rich and enlightening discussion in a few words would be both difficult and impossible. However, certain elements could be pulled out and pondered upon to understand the politics of rights-based approach to food security. Food security started as a 1970s-era global-scale concern for food supplies that saw the supply of food as the influential variable for food (in)security. Under this view, places with greater food supplies are perceived as more food secure than those with fewer supplies. The UN World Food Conference was thus held in 1974, a year when hunger in the world had reached a level that was unacceptable to most of the Third World countries. However, from the late 1970s through the 1990s, the food security focus on food supply failed to identify causal links between the material circumstances of particular groups and their experiences of food insecurity in events such as the African famine of 1984-85. Studies of such events revealed that even in the context of famine, the cause of food insecurity was not the amount of food in a given place. Rather, food outcomes are shaped by access (entitlements) and production, which are themselves linked to social roles and status. In the face of this new understanding, food security studies shifted their approach from a view of food as a basic need to a livelihood perspective that treats food as one of a number of objectives, resources and outcomes. The contemporary structure of food security recognizes the value of local knowledge and local perceptions of problems and insecurity in understanding the causes (and results) of that insecurity. One should also include the concept of social exclusion while talking about access to food. In the livelihood framework, outcomes are specified not only in terms of income but also in terms of well being and reduced vulnerability. Importantly, livelihoods are seen as being derived from a set of assets, particularly 5 kinds of capital: human, natural, financial, social and physical.

Streamlining the PDS

The public distribution system which was universal in nature during the pre-nineties came under criticism on various grounds. It was argued that there was limited accessibility of PDS by the poor, there was regional and rural urban disparities in PDS, there were inefficiencies associated with the PDS, and leakages from PDS was considered to be quite high [Swaminathan (2000); George (1984); Dev and Suryanarayana (1991); Ahluwalia (1996)]. The Revamped PDS was introduced by the government adopting an approach which could be expressed as: helping all the people living in the poor areas. Such poor areas included drought prone areas, desert areas, tribal areas, certain designated hilly areas and urban slum areas. The government short listed 1752 blocks under the RPDS to improve the food availability situation in these backward areas. Although the offtake from RPDS was going up (as can be seen from the table 1 above), the government decided to further curtail the PDS by adopting Targeted PDS i.e. TPDS. This can remind one of the phase wise liberalisation of the exchange rate regime (see notes)[i].

TPDS was the result of government’s policy of fiscal contraction which too came under criticism on various grounds. Although the TPDS was started to lower the food subsidies, it could not meet its objective because of pressures on the government to buy food grains at prices higher than the market prices. Those who were ‘net consumers’ suffered due to higher prices of food grains prevailing in ration shops (and also fair price shops), including the people living below the poverty line. In most of the cases, TPDS also suffered from non-inclusion of poor in the scheme, which can be termed as Type-II or E-mistakes [Cornia and Stewart (1993); Swaminathan (1996)].

The impact of targeting the PDS on food security was discussed too. The three broader aspects of food security i.e. food availability, food distribution and food accessibility, became the major areas of research and debates. It should be mentioned here that food security at the household level and intra-household food allocation which is determined by many factors including gender norms, formed a negligible part of these debates. One can mention about the household livelihood security model which allows for a broader and more comprehensive understanding of the relationships among the political economy of poverty, malnutrition and the dynamic and complex strategies that the poor use to negotiate survival. The model places emphasis on household actions, perceptions, and choices. Regarding the physical availability of food security, it was argued by some that the change in the cropping pattern in favour of non-food crops led to more risks and increased impoverishment of the small and marginal farmers, and decreased food availability per capita. This was countered by the argument that such a shift would lead to higher returns for small and marginal farmers, more exports and would be compatible with the change in tastes and preference of both the rural and urban consumers [Patnaik (1997); Radhakrishna (1996)]. However, one should also taken into account the vulnerability aspect (which covers external factors affecting food security viz. natural and man-made disasters), and sustainability aspect (which involves attention to the conservation and enhancement of natural resources like land, water, forests and biodiversity).

The Issue of Malnutrition

It was argued that the most of the rural and urban population do not have enough purchasing power to meet their calorie norms [See the table 2]. But this argument was countered by saying that given the increase in the level of real expenditure per capita of the poor, there is shift in consumption from calorie based food to non-calorie based food. However, the calorie based definition of food security itself is subject to many criticisms---the required calories by a person may vary across geographies, culture and time. Even if one assumes that ‘adequate’ calories are available to every member of the household, there is no certainty that available calories will meet the requirements of protein energy, and micro-nutrients, such as iron, iodine and important vitamins. The construction of poverty line on the basis of minimum required calorie intake has also been debated [Swaminathan (2002); Vyas (2004); Dev (2005)]. Micronutrient deficiency is somewhat related to changing food habits of the people because of the changes in their tastes and preferences, and is also related to their respective income levels. The relation between tastes and preferences, and income levels is subject to the condition, which creates values. There is no exact one to one relationship between income level and micronutrient deficiency. The importance of capacity building to create awareness about food values is quite essential. However, once awareness is generated, it can be the people with more access to income as well as non-income resources, which can benefit. Thus keeping the prices of the food (which are rich in micronutrients) affordable is quite pertinent.

There was a growing consent among economists and social scientists to widen the connotation of food security by including the concept of nutritional security at the household level. Some argued that the calorie based definition of food security be replaced by nutrition based definition of food security at the household level (Vyas, 2000). Without an assurance of nutritional adequacy, food security has very little meaning (United Nations Administrative Committee for Co-ordination: Sub-committee on Nutrition (ACC: SCN) (2000): Fourth Report on World Nutrition Situation, Geneva). The usage of anthropometric measures in order to find the level of malnutrition (see notes)[ii] and measuring the micronutrient contents in food are some techniques in order to assess the nutritional aspect of food security. If the nutritional aspect of food security is followed, then it can be found from the Second National Family Health Survey that 47 percent of all Indian children are undernourished, 52 percent of all adult women are anaemic and 36% have a BMI (body mass index) below the cut-off of 18.5 commonly associated with chronic energy deficiency (International Institute of Population Sciences, 2000). Although there is decline of extreme hunger and severe undernutrition but the improvement of anthropometric indicators (heights and weights of Indian children) is quite slow. Anthropometric indicators show rural-urban disparity and gender disparity (Dreze, 2004). One can look at the table 3, in order to get the anthropometric measures among women and children across various states and union territories (UTs). One should also mention about life cycle approach to understand food and nutrition security.

In order to understand the complexity of food security, one can look at the figure 1, shown above. Figure 1, clearly shows that nutrition status of an individual not only depend indirectly on household food security, but also gender norms practiced in the society as well as sanitation, access to health facilities and safe drinking water etc. Micronutrient deficiency—especially deficiencies in iron, iodine and vitamin-A—are even more widespread worldwide than that of protein-energy malnutrition. Besides being important causes of disability in themselves, micronutrient deficiencies often underlie other types of morbidity. Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anaemia worldwide. The consequences of iron deficiency are more serious for women.

Rise in net availability of food grain at the national level do not ensure food security at the household level. But still there is a necessity to become self-sufficient in food production. There are limits to increasing production through area expansion as the country has almost reached a plateau in so far as cultivable land is concerned. Hence the emphasis has to be on productivity increase. Overall growth rate decelerated to 1.80% per annum during the decade of 1990s which is just about equal to annual population growth and therefore is a matter of concern (see table 4). Annual growth in wheat continues to be robust but in rice it tapered off in 1990s after fairly high growth in 1980s. Whereas decline in coarse cereals output is understandable because of substitution effect, failure in improving growth in pulses is quite a setback.

Rights Based Approach to Food Security

Coming back to the issue of TPDS, it could be said that the new scheme could not reach its target population as has been argued by some. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the food stocks in the Food Corporation of India (FCI) godowns went up due to lowering purchasing power of the rural masses, and very little price differential between market prices and issue prices of food grains in ration shops, as has been argued by some. Drought and famine led to further impoverishment of the rural poor as there were little concerted efforts to improve their entitlement by capitalizing on the endowment poor people has i.e. labour power. The Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana (SGRY), which was introduced in mid-2001, was no better and suffered from the problems of under-utilisation of funds, mechanization of work, and fudging of the muster rolls. The Indian state was unable to provide ‘safety net’ to its small and marginal farmers who could not get the return for their investment in agricultural activities. News of starvation deaths and suicides were reported from different parts of India. Although the civil society voiced its concern about these issues, the government seemed to pay no attention to it. Some of the states which performed poorly in ensuring food security were Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Chattisgarh. Cases of starvation deaths were also reported from the South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal. The poorer regions which suffered hugely were Palamau in Jharkhand, Sarguja in Chattisgarh, Kalahandi in Orissa. Cases of starvation deaths were reported from the tribal communities such as sahariyas, musahars, kols and bhuiyas. Consumption of ghas ki roti made from sama (a forest grass) took the lives of sahariyas in Rajasthan. Tribals in Bolangir district of Orissa were found to mortgage not only their land but also their rations cards for a paltry sum of Rs. 50. The moneylenders also lent back the cards at higher prices [EPW (2002); Mander (2003); Dreze (2003)]. Farmer’s suicides in Vidharbha region in Maharastra can also be mentioned which is happening because of high debts, high cost of inputs (including credit) and too much reliance on green revolution technology instead of traditional farming methods (Mohanty, 2005).

The ‘right to food’ movement / campaign which grew after the hearing by the Supreme Court of a writ petition filed by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (Rajasthan), at that critical junction not only provided the Indian citizens with information about the food security situation but also made a serious attempt to draw the attention of Supreme Court to consider ‘right to food’ as a fundamental right. The early dialogue on food security happening among economists changed its track, giving more stress on action oriented research. There are however hurdles to make right to food as a fundamental right because: (i) There are multiplicity of meanings of the term ‘freedom from hunger’[iii]. It can mean—getting two square meals a day, meeting specific calorie norms, avoiding nutrition related ailments and so on. (ii) If right to food is seen as right to ‘nutrition’ as provided in the Article 47 of the Indian Constitution, then one can look into the debate among nutritionists regarding the constituents of ‘good’ nutrition. Another aspect of nutrition is that ‘good’ nutrition varies across time and space (already discussed). Nutrition can also be linked with issues like safe drinking water, good health etc., without which body’s absorption and metabolism of nutrients goes down; and (iii) Ensuring right to food is not only the responsibility of the State but also institutions and individuals (Dreze, 2004).

Despite the international summits such as the Vienna Declaration, 1993 adopted at World Conference on Human Rights affirming that ‘extreme poverty and social exclusion constitutes a violation of human dignity’ and the Rome Declaration (1996) made during the World Food Summit stating that ‘food security is achieved when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active life’, it is difficult to transform these into the fundamental rights of the Indian Constitution. Although the right to food comes under the Directive Principles, it is difficult to convert it into a fundamental right. While the Article 37 explicitly states that the Directive Principles ‘shall not be enforced by any court’, it goes on to stress that (i) that these principles are nevertheless ‘fundamental to the governance of the country’; and (ii) that ‘it shall be the duty of the state to apply these principles in making laws’. However, the manner in which right to free and compulsory education to every child has been made into a fundamental right through pressures coming from the civil society organizations and international agencies like the UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund), gives one some hope about pursuing the State to make right to food as a fundamental right. But this does not mean by making right to food as a fundamental right will automatically ensure food security for all at all the times. There may still be problems in enforcing and implementing such rules. This is what was happening with the right to free and compulsory education to every child as has been reported. Many have even questioned the quality of education imparted through Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan [Jha, (2002); Dreze (2004)].

The politics behind making right to food as an obligatory fundamental right of a State can be understood from the stand United States took. During the 1996 World Food Summit, the US refused to sign the final declaration based on the logic that such a step would make “welfare reform illegal under international law”. While some countries like the G-77 and some European countries were pushing for a clearer and a stronger language regarding the enforcement of right to food, the US opposed the inclusion of any language whatsoever. After a compromise was struck, the World Food Summit 1996 was followed by the establishment of General Comment 12 which was adopted by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1999. The General Comment 12 outlined the duties and obligations of states with respect to implementation of the right to food. In the year 2000, the United Nations appointed a Special Rapporteur on the right to food. During the World Food Summit 2002, which was held in Rome, Italy, from June 10-13, the US Administration wanted to support a much narrower world-hunger agenda which focused on a greater role for the private sector, including the interests of biotechnology firms[iv]. Since the US could no longer demand for the exclusion of language, they were asking for alterations in language—pushing for the right to access to food, rather than for the right to adequate food. In fact, the US preferred the UDHR (Universal Declaration of Human Rights) and the non-ratified ICESCR (International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) formulation of right to food, which is vague and non-binding. (President Jimmy signed the ICESCR, which has still not been ratified by the US). During the World Food Summit 2002, the United States expressed this idea by arguing that “..…the attainment of the right to an adequate standard of living is a goal or aspiration to be realized progressively that does not give rise to any international obligation or any domestic legal entitlement and it does not diminish the responsibilities of national governments towards their citizens”. The US therefore did not understand the right of access to food as a guaranteed entitlement. Thus, we find the United States among few of the nations which has not ratified the ICESCR. Expecting to halve world hunger by the year 2015 is now a distant dream particularly for most of the countries of South as there is lack of political will to take steps vis-à-vis right to food. But one can learn from Norway which has recently adopted the legislation making the ICESCR legally binding within the country and has established the right to food as the basis for its agricultural policy. [Rosset (2002); Sheff (2002)].

In the absence of political will to make right to food as a fundamental right, there are certain steps which the civil society organizations and human rights activists have taken. Firstly, right to food in India can be linked with right to information. Information regarding the unavailability of food grains in ration shops, non-issuance of below poverty line ration cards and corruption in general can be found from the authorities, if a particular state has enacted the Right to Information Act. Disclosure of records of ration shop can help in preventing corruption, where through bogus entries food grains from ration shops are siphoned off to open market for a better bid. Some grassroots level NGOs are working in the state of Delhi in order to check such illegal activities. States that have done considerably good in Panchayati Raj, should go for implementing the Right to Information Act judiciously [The Tribune (2003)][v]. Secondly, the issue of right to food can be linked with right to free and compulsory basic education to children. On 28 November 2001, the Supreme Court under the pressure of public campaigns directed state governments to introduce cooked mid-day meals in all government and government-assisted primary schools within six months. On 15 August 2003, the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced that cooked mid-day meals would soon be extended up to Class 10 as a national programme. Under the mid-day meals programme, 50 million children are covered. Although the quality of mid-day meals varies from state to state, but states like Tamil Nadu and Gujarat have performed exceptionally well. Some states have given the excuse of shoe string budget of not introducing such schemes. Introduction of schemes like mid-day meals in schools, not only ensures higher enrolment of children, but also reduces the drop-out ratio among girl children. Even the problem of child labour could be countered to a large extent. Eating food together also leads to social cohesiveness among children of various castes. Further, it leads to employment of women cooks in the schools. Thirdly, there is need for efforts to establish an Optional Protocol, which would allow the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) to hear grievances regarding right to food at the international level. While the decisions taken will be non-binding and subject to the approval of the defending state, establishment of an Optional Protocol would be an important step towards the rising enforceability of economic rights, including the right to food. Distress migration of farm labourers, distress sale of land and other valuable assets (including ration cards) by small and marginal land owning farmers, committing of suicides by consuming harmful chemical pesticides in the backdrop of debt trap, adivasis (tribals) eating ghaas ki roti (breads made of local grass) due to hunger etc. are some of the incidents, which can really create agony and angst in the mind of any normal human being. Some of the Indian states have also seen plundering of groundwater by corporate sector, which have adversely affected not only environment but also the very common man. However, a special package for farmers was announced for 31 districts in Andhra Pradesh, Maharastra, Karnataka and Kerala, where there was high incidence of farmers' suicides. The measures include: (a) Waiving of interest on overdue loans as on July 1, 2006 so that farmers have no past burden; (b) The overdue loans of the farmers as on July 1, 2006 will be rescheduled over a period of 3-5 years with a one year moratorium; and (c) A credit flow of INR 21,422 crore will be ensured in these 31 districts in 2006-07. But it can pointed out that what we have seen in India is gross regional inequality in development, which even created and perpetuated old social problems like bonded labour system, child labour system, gender-based discrimination, caste-system, illiteracy and what not.

It is increasingly felt that Indian agriculture is currently suffering from “technology fatigue”, due to which the earlier gains made during the green revolution has withered away. Moreover, green revolution itself has been criticized for being Euro-centric, environmentally unsustainable and being apolitical (it never addressed the issues of land and tenancy reforms, and other related institutional reforms). Green revolution actually tried to improve yields and production, without taking into account the needed change in rural and social institutions. Since it offered a high-valued package, so it helped only the rich farmers (owning large landholdings) from assured irrigated areas. Areas where rainfed irrigation take place could not gain much from the green revolution. Green revolution only promoted production of certain crops which are agro-climatically suitable for certain regions, which some say have affected biodiversity. Green revolution relied excessively on major irrigations (instead of minor irrigation and rainwater harvesting), chemical fertilizers and pesticides. In order to sustain green revolution, huge subsidies were given on inputs (for producers of inputs—firms, and consumer of inputs—farmers) like electricity, fertilizers etc, thus making the entire effort economically unviable and unsustainable. The Bollgard Bt cottonseed and other such seeds, which have been recently introduced, have failed to cater the needs of the rural farming community who belong to the lower income group (as well as socially backward groups), and possess small-sized farmlands and cropping fields. In fact there are allegations that due to the liberalization of the Indian economy, multi-national corporations (MNCs) from the North got the opportunity of plundering the farmers of the South, by patenting and giving 'new names' to the indigenous varieties of plants (such as turmeric, basmati rice) and animals (via genetic engineering) from the South, thus leading to bio-piracy. Issues and debates surrounding bio-ethics, bio-piracy and violation of intellectual property rights (IPRs) have come to the forefront during the recent years, which are still needed to be solved at international forums like World Trade Organisation (WTO). The National Agricultural Policy (NAP) (2000) announced by the Government of India, sought to give a prominent role to contract farming. However, it is said that contract farming has led to 'corporatization' of Indian agriculture, which has adversely affected the small and marginal farmers. Contract farming has been criticized as being a tool for the agribusiness firm to exploit an unequal power relationship with growers. However, advocates of contract farming view it as a way to create a synergy between agribusiness firms and small farmers that benefit both without sacrificing the rights of either. It is seen as a mechanism to modernize small peasant holders through transfer of technology.


The debate over the issue of food and nutrition security is going to become more intense in the coming days. While many will put forward the argument of allowing genetically modified food, which is cheap, to float in the Indian market, others may raise their concern regarding the risks associated with such food. The government will try to promote biotechnological research for raising the food availability. But ecologists and environmentalists may disagree to taking such steps. It is important to mention that in the year 2002, many South African countries expressed concern about genetically modified crops supplied as food aid by multilateral agencies. Their concerns regarded both food safety and environment. However, the WFP, FAO and WHO reacted by stating, “the consumption of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) now being provided as food aids in Southern Africa is not likely to present human health risks. Therefore, these foods may be eaten”. International law, however, does not currently address GMOs in food aid (FAO, 2005). Under such circumstances, raising the issue of right to food and nutrition security from a human rights perspective will become more difficult unless a global forum is created and used for pressure tactics and monitoring. It is also imperative to understand that under the human development framework, one cannot compartmentalise one right from another.

The 'green revolution' which spread from the Western part of India to the rest of India, could not help in pulling majority of the rural masses out of the poverty and debt trap. Eyebrows have been raised about the role of old institutions (for R&D) like: State Agricultural Universities, krishi vigyan kendras (KVKs), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) etc., apart from the public distribution system (PDS). Taking such institutions as pious would be a great mistake. There are needs for institutional reforms so that they cater the needs of the rural farming community keeping in mind the issues of ensuring food security, rural development and poverty reduction. It has been felt by economists that instead of giving subsidies to those schemes which lead to environmental hazards and other negative things (can happen also due to negative externalities), more finance should be allocated in crucial areas such as soil amelioration, watershed development, groundwater recharge, surface irrigation and other infrastructure and also allow for substantial expansion in the reach of critical farm support systems. It is now suggested that agricultural production has to be increased not only through increase in yield but also through increase in area under cultivation.


[i] Note: The system of partial convertibility of rupee was done in the budget of 1992-93, to be followed by full convertibility of rupee on trade account in the budget of 1993-94. Full convertibility on current account was achieved on August 19, 1994. Many other relaxations regarding convertibility were introduced in the subsequent years.

[ii] Notes: Anthropometric measures are calculated by finding the z-scores of weight-for-age, weight-for-height and height-for-age, and finding their standard deviations from the norms. This is done mainly for pre-school children. For more information, see India Nutrition Profile (1998), published by Department of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India.

[iii] Note: The phrase ‘freedom from hunger’ was coined during the World Food Conference (1974) which resolved that, ‘every man, woman and child has a right to be free from hunger and malnutrition’.

[iv] Note: There were protests by a noted ecologist during the year 2000 against the food aid which was given by the US after the Orissa cyclone of 1999. It was alleged that the corn-soya mix had genetically engineered content. American officials said that the GM content of corn and soya in the US was such that it was likely that the food-aid supply to Orissa would be genetically engineered, but they said that would not be in breach of any Indian or international regulations and met American safety standards. Source: ‘US 'dumped' GM food in Orissa’, Saturday, 3 June, 2000, 00:09 GMT 01:09 UK, by Mike Wooldridge, accessed from

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Wooldridge, Mike (2000): ‘US 'dumped' GM food in Orissa’, Saturday, 3 June, 2000, 00:09 GMT 01:09 UK, accessed from

Tenth Five Year Plan 2002-2007.

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