IT IS shocking that the open market sale of rice is not helping the poor as they are not habituated to the offered variety, non-boiled rice that is, while their preferred rice is out of their reach. The OMS programme, as New Age reported on Saturday, began on September 17 this year after rice prices had started to go up following spells of floods that damaged a large portion of the rice production. As this time OMS rice is non-boiled, the poor, according to the report, are staying half-fed or being forced to eat only puffed or flattened rice while they are used to eating boiled rice the price of which has increased by 30 per cent since mid-September. The unpalatable fact, according to the director of supply, distribution and marketing at the Directorate General of Food, is that at least 25 per cent of 55,000 tonnes of non-boiled rice which was supposed to be sold at 2,105 OMS centres every month still remains unsold. And the victims of the situation are hapless, poor people a large portion of whom are farmers. All this brings to the fore the government’s, or the food ministry’s for that matter, lack of farsightedness in terms of perceiving what these people are used to for a living after toiling hard in the field. All that we mean to say is that the government has failed miserably to prepare for unstable weather situation and untimely floods, resulting in rice price increase, and to remain prepared for today’s unforeseen circumstances by procuring adequate rice that poor people are habituated to.
Despite this hapless condition of the people, the incumbents are often found content highlighting their much vaunted achievements in raising the national economic growth and arresting the increase in prices of essential commodities in their stint. This contentment, as it appears, makes them forget that 40 per cent of the total population, living below the poverty line, are still remaining hungry. This also shows that the margin between what they think about their successes and what has come about in reality has not diminished. When an increase in prices of rice, one of the staple foods of the populace, is a potential threat to the survival of the low-income groups, they should realise that sustenance is the first and foremost among all other basic needs of society or a class of people for its graduation from a given standards. And if the incumbents really mean to afford the poor and low-income group people any relief from price increase, they need to cater to what the common people are habituated to.
The government, at the moment, needs to reverse the situation by managing to introduce boiled rice at the OMS outlets after the poor people’s preference, and by running the outlets flawlessly with adequate supply so that none of these people starve, to say the least.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Editorial