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Intellectual gluttony: Why is it ok to subsidise gold and not food?

Before we hit the keyboard to criticise the UPA government’s Food Security Ordinance and the Amartya Sen-led ideas behind it, it would be worthwhile to introspect what exactly we are chewing. Behind arguments against the law, lie privileged and powerful voices. So loud are these voices that they drown every other sound, including cold logic that stares them in the face. Feasting on an intellectual gluttony, they chew heavy subsidies in the name of the poor, while ensuring the poor stay where they are.

This is not to justify the ordinance. Of course, it is a political purchase of votes by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance – but why else would you be in the business of power? The law would increase India’s fiscal deficit, no doubt. In turn, that could bring India on the edge of a negative rating. Which, finally, would accelerate the exit of global investors, peeved with extreme misgovernance, on one side, and policy uncertainty, on the other. But investors are exiting anyway – the case of Posco and ArcelorMittal that quit projects worth Rs 80,000 crore last week is the pinnacle of this malaise. Putting food in the mouths of India’s poor will make things worse, goes the argument.

Read full column on First Post.

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