A new inspector raj

The current crackdown on the pulses trade may do more harm than good in the long run.

By: Express News Service | Updated: October 24, 2015 2:48 am
Dal price, Pulses rate, Pulse stockholding, Pulse price hike, dal price hike, the indian express Pulses imports are usually undertaken in bulk vessels carrying over 50,000 tonnes, whereas stock limits of 300-350 tonnes per importer is what many states have fixed.

The government has reasons to be concerned over spiralling dal prices — even more so when arhar at Rs 200 per kg has become a major campaign theme in the ongoing Bihar assembly elections. But that does not justify the kind of desperate measures it has resorted to. Not only have states been allowed to impose stockholding limits on traders, but these have been extended to even importers, processors and larger retailers. These actions, apart from reeking of short-termism, lack a basic understanding of the way the commodity business functions. Pulses imports are usually undertaken in bulk vessels carrying over 50,000 tonnes, whereas stock limits of 300-350 tonnes per importer is what many states have fixed.

Will any importer contract fresh consignments with such restrictions, which would require the pulses to be sold the moment they are discharged from vessels — a practical impossibility? Similarly, a dal mill processes anywhere from 10 to 100 tonnes of raw pulses daily. For smooth running, it needs to maintain at least seven to 10 days of stocks. But suddenly, we are seeing raids and stocks being seized, when these may have even been pledged with banks for securing working capital.

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But administrative ignorance that could backfire — imports grinding to a halt or dal mills closing obviously doesn’t help anyone — is only one part. Of larger importance is the message that is going out.

Till recently, the government was talking about the need for states to reform their agriculture produce market committee acts, allowing barrier-free movement of produce both within and outside the country, and setting up warehouses, cold chains and on-farm storage structures. But today, the same government has rediscovered the lexicon of the 1960s and ’70s. States are now being advised to “intensify anti-hoarding operations” and crackdown on “black-marketers and profiteers”. Not surprisingly, even millers and legitimate stockists — who ensure that the produce harvested over two to three months is stored to ensure the market is supplied around the year — have not been spared from the recent “surprise inspections”.

While Bihar may be the immediate provocation for going overboard, the government should well bear in mind that the pulses problem isn’t going to go away once the elections are over. As has been pointed out repeatedly, pulses defy easy solutions. Unlike edible oils, sugar or wheat, which are easily importable, there is very little production of pulses outside India. For the same reason, the solution to bridging the growing supply-demand gap can only lie in augmenting domestic production — more so in irrigated
areas where rice, wheat and sugarcane have become the default cropping options.

Cracking down on the pulses trade, the government may be doing more harm than good in the long run.

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  1. A
    Abhinav Gour
    Oct 28, 2015 at 6:05 pm
    prices are so much high, state government , please do something
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    1. A
      Abhinav Gour
      Oct 28, 2015 at 6:05 pm
      prices are so much high, state government , please do something
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      1. A
        Amit Modi
        Oct 24, 2015 at 3:07 pm
        A good analysis of the situation. The current govt., Vide its various actions in the last 19/20 months, has shown its propensity to handle issues in a cavalier fashion. They believe that by just taking a few short sighted but headline grabbing actions, they can overcome the various myriad issues that any central govt has to address. A govt, bereft of any talent in governance, headed by a PM who was once a CM, having the backing of strong right wing groups & showing scant respect for other political groups can only go thus far. I personally believe that the right wing political has a better experience of being in opposition than of being in power - thus they may be good implementors of policies formulated by others. Thus, this particular govt, has amply demonstrated that policy formulation on a national scale is a vastly different & more complex issue than tweaking existing government schemes. Thus a do called successful CM, may not necessarily be a good PM too - yes he may be more colourful, more adept in playing political imagery, more oratorical - but a better administrator ? Time will tell.
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          Gunjan
          Oct 24, 2015 at 9:31 pm
          Knee-jerk reactions should not define policies, the s came out with the new limits on stock and next day started the crackdown. How would a honest business dispose off the excess stock in a single day? The BJP govt is again proving it's weakness and would again sit in the opposition for 25 years after the next elections. I guess they do a better job while they are in the opposition benches.
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            OasisBeliever
            Oct 24, 2015 at 10:32 pm
            In marathi there is verse from well known saints, bahu bolo jata mhanati vachal na bolo jata mhanati muka It is same with your paper. first it will shout if the price is increasing, why it is increasing then if some action is taken you will blame for the action. Thank God you are not running the country. :)
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            1. V
              Virendra Sason
              Oct 24, 2015 at 10:21 am
              MODIJI PUSHED INDIANS 45 TO 50 YEARS BACK ON PULSES FRONT. IS IT MAKE IN INDIA OR DIGITAL AGE IN INDIA?
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                Bhagat Singh
                Oct 25, 2015 at 12:47 am
                AAP Congress, DMK, CPI/CPM, TMC, SP, BSP, RJD, JDU today form the leftist parties clique and control India's TV and print media. these leftists constantly invent artificial situations to blame BJP and also indulge in yellow journalism with Al Jazeera, yahoo etc to portray BJP and Hindus in bad light BJP and Hindus should file a major law suit on these leftist parties for sedition and slandering India
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                  FrankOpinion
                  Oct 24, 2015 at 9:44 pm
                  Sick and tired of empty headed, dumb and dim witted presutes.... ,,,, stupid people of this country deserve that
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                    Sambit Prasad
                    Oct 24, 2015 at 6:49 pm
                    Very insightful analysis. Government is more on election mode than governance mode. It has already made all people anti-government except few chamchas in last one year. Now the question arises whether people will demand the sacking of majoritarian Governement in another few months as the Government has become unbearable for all sections of people in India. I may sound extreme, but in few more months these fools will make India the worst country to live in.
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