I also told the finance minister that we should extend tax rebate for investments made in education by the IT industry which, I understand, is not enough. The government has blessed the move but it has not materialised. I feel it is high time universities and the industry interacted more closely.
I also said, and the DoPT (department of personnel and training) secretary also mentioned it later, that we should do something to remove malnutrition among children and expectant and lactating mothers. I questioned the use of inventing and putting into place technologies if we are not going to put them to use for the very people who need them most.
There is a great need to encourage local production of fortified foods. I suggested that there should be incentives for fortifying traditional materials like biscuits and chikki that the common man is used to. The only fortified foods in the market today are expensive.
The ordinary man needs food that is lower in cost but also nutritious. Why can’t we give the food industry incentives that will make such food competitive as well as low-priced
I also stressed that with so much science and technology and research institutions at our command, we are regrettably unable to serve even the basic cause... we can provide better food in our mid-day meal programmes as well. The science and technology department needs to examine ways to reduce costs and remove nutritional deficiencies. The government may end up spending a lot of money on provision of food this way, but at the end of the day, it is not worth it if there is adulteration or food poisoning.
We should provide better food, so even if its pilfered someone will be eating only, rather than letting it rot in godowns. It is ironical that we have excess foodtsocks and yet many go hungry. Maybe the government can make a beginning with five or six districts with such an experiment, and if it is successful, it can be spread to other areas.
Another important point I made was to involve fertiliser companies in development of superior seeds and their production. They have reasonable financial resources and should be encouraged to invest in the seed sector. Quality material seed would be of great importance in improving production. Fertiliser companies have distribution networks and are known to the farmers. Hence they would not need to buy spurious seeds.
(The writer is Director, University of Delhi South Campus)