More from less ministries

May 21 2014, 20:17 IST
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SummaryIt makes sense to merge the agriculture and the food ministries

The ministry-making process under way is an opportunity to initiate administrative reforms without going through the turmoil that a reforms commission report implementation may imply.

The new Narendra Modi-led government can hit the ground running to revitalise the Indian economy, engender growth and start bringing inflation down.

Here is the broad outline of a restructuring that could work:

* The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution should be restructured. The Department of Food and Public Distribution should be attached to the Ministry of Agriculture, and the ministry renamed the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

* The Department of Consumer Affairs of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution should be attached to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. The new ministry should be renamed the Ministry of Consumer and Corporate Affairs.

* The new Ministry of Consumer and Corporate Affairs should have two departmentsóDepartment of Consumer Affairs and Department of Corporate Affairs.

So, what is the logic behind combining Ministries of Agriculture and Food and Civil Supplies?

The Ministry of Agriculture consists of the Departments of Agriculture and Cooperation, Agriculture Research and Education and Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development and Fisheries. It controls the production activities of all items making up food items consumed by Indians.

The Department of Food and Public Distribution controls the foodgrain procurement and distribution, warehousing, and the sugar and edible oil industries. It can be renamed the Department of Food and Civil Supplies and be brought back under the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. By attaching the Department of Food and Public Distribution to the Ministry of Agriculture, the reorganisation restores to one entity coordination of all activities of production, procurement and distribution of food items.

The function of coordinating consumer and marketing cooperatives, handled by the Department of Consumer Affairs, should be transferred to a new Department of Cooperation in the reconstituted Ministry of Food and Agriculture. Coordinating the producer cooperatives, done by the current Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, can be transferred to the new department. The coordination under one entity of production and distribution of all activities related to food consumables potentially brings inflation down, as all matters are handled by one senior political figure and an integrated team dealing with various aspects of operational phenomena in Indiaís food economy holistically.

This reorganisation leads to five departments in the Ministry of Food and Agriculture: (1) Department of Agriculture, (2) Department of Agriculture Research and Education, (3) Department of Animal Husbandry,

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