‘Contractor raj’ on in nutrition schemes

THE HINDU | ANURADHA RAMAN | SEPTEMBER 22 2015

Maneka Gandhi’s letter to Pankaja Munde has thrown the doors open to the entry of private manufacturers in supplementary nutrition scheme.
Maneka Gandhi’s letter to Pankaja Munde has thrown the doors open to the entry of private manufacturers in supplementary nutrition scheme. / Picture from THE HINDU

Supreme Court Commissioners, appointed to monitor the implementation of food schemes, say both are posing a problem for the government.

Two months back, The Hindu had reported on the ongoing flip-flop by the Ministry on the issue. On September 3, 2015, Ms. Gandhi wrote to Maharashtra Minister Pankaja Munde, who has been in the news for awarding questionable contracts worth crores to private chikki manufacturers, drawing her attention to the need to maintain quality in food served to infants and pregnant and nursing mothers under the government’s supplementary nutrition scheme. Ms Gandhi’s letter, many food security activists apprehend, may actually allow Ms. Munde to continue awarding contracts to private manufacturers, whose involvement the Supreme Court has strictly prohibited.

Ms. Gandhi’s letter to Ms Munde, states: “My attention has been drawn to the letter dated 9-7-2015 wherein Government of Maharashtra has sought advice of Central Government for use of extrusion technology for preparation of take home rations under the ICDS scheme… The Ministry of WCD has made it absolutely clear that the directions of the Honourable SC regarding quality and hygiene…continue reading

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Modi sedates the farmer

DOWN TO EARTH | LATHA JISHNU | SEPTEMBER 2 2015

Latha Jishnu
Latha Jishnu / Picture from DOWN TO EARTH

This Independence Day, farmers were singled out for special honour by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. From the ramparts of the Red Fort, he announced that the ministry of agriculture would henceforth be known as agriculture and farmers’ welfare ministry. He promised a permanent system to address agricultural problems and farmers’ welfare.

Modi also waxed eloquent about as the benefits of neem-coated urea-this could explain the barely concealed boredom of the invitees at the Red Fort -and enhanced crop insurance. There were also homilies on how farmers could save water, save energy and save fertilisers.

The grand proclamation on the name change has been met with stunning silence from the farming community. In any case, what could they have said? Thank you for another sop? We are thrilled that this government has offered us more old baubles in new wrapping? Farmers obviously would have seen through this empty rhetoric since they have been using neem-coated urea for over a decade. For the rest of us who have not tumbled to the not-so-clever spin of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, here are some hard truths. Let’s start with the neem-coated urea that has captured the Prime Minister’s imagination. It is not a new initiative to boost the sharply eroding fertility of India’s agricultural lands as his government claims. According to Fact Checker, a data website, urea, as also some pesticides, has been coated with neem for 11 years! The website mined parliamentary answers to show that…continue reading