FOOD SECURITY IN INDIA: Myth and Reality
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Ever since the worldwide economic crisis in 2008 the world at large and India are mired in a deepening economic crisis threatening in its wake the economic and social security of not just the poor but also a section of the middle classes. Food security is an issue that has dovetailed these developments. It impinges on the very core of the lives of the poor.
Food security issues in India acquired prominence in public policy debate through the 2000s, resulting in promulgation of schemes like the National Rural Health Mission, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and the National Food Security Bill. The aura of high hopes built around these interventions almost completely absolves the role of the present social, economic and political system in leading to the precarious situation of the people. The mainstream debate on poverty and hunger has been sequestered within the safe margins defined by the present system. An alternative opinion critical of the present, social, economic and political structure has been an anathema to the mainstream debate. The present Modi government is intent on giving a go by even to the marginal gains that may have resulted from the social sector interventions mentioned above.
The book – Food Security in India: Myth and Reality is an effort to articulate an alternative for which there seems little scope in the mainstream debate. It is a political treatise on food security in India and an argument for the implementation of radical land reforms as the fulcrum of India’s social, economic and political transformation. The arguments there in are ‘polemical’, ‘tremendous’ and ‘value laden’ because there can be no a-polemical and value neutral position vis-a-vis issues that hinge on the power relations in the society.
Dr Vikas Bajpaiteaches at the Center for SocialMedicineand CommunityHealth, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.He was trained as a radiation oncologist at Delhi’s Safdarjang Hospital, was then affiliated to Delhi University. After completing MD in Radiotherapy in 1996, he gave upmedicalprofession and responded to his inner calling by joining the revolutionary trade union movement as a full time activist. Work in the revolutionary trade union movement for a period little less than a decade brought him face to face with the precarious existence of the workers in the very heart of India’s capital, in the sweatshops of Delhi’s industrial areas and the shanty townships they live in. Politics of the downtrodden also afforded him a chance to observe and participate in the trials and travails of Indian peasantry in different parts of the country.This book brings to fruition the remarkable experiences and learning from those years, since gone by.
Dr Anoop Sarayais Professor of Gastroenterology and Head of the Department of Gastroenterology and Human Nutrition Unit at the All India Institute ofMedicalSciences, New Delhi. Apart from being an excellent clinician, an empathetic physician and an avidmedicalresearcher, Dr Saraya has been a veteran of the progressive doctor’s movement and has been taking up several issues directly impacting the interests of the poor patients such as issues regardingdrugpatents, abolition of user charges, opposing privatization of services at publichealth institutions and overall privatization ofhealthservices. His experience gained over the years has directly fed into enriching the content of this book.