It can be symbolic of a new India that it will not let anyone starve in South Asia

Synopsis: India has reported surplus good grain production. Given the food crisis in the world and our neighbourhood, India can utilize food diplomacy to strengthen its soft power.

Introduction

The article highlights how India can adopt the US method of grain diplomacy, which can be a game-changer for India.

What did the US do?

In the past, the US utilized food aid as powerful diplomacy to contain hunger-induced discontent that it feared can raise communist revolutions in underdeveloped countries. The US under its Food for Peace programme, also known as PL-480, transported food grains to India, Soviet Union and other countries.

India alone imported nearly 24 million tonnes (mt) of wheat under PL-480 during 1964-66. The rationale behind the Food for Peace programme was that to relieve grain surplus in the US and will also serve as a bulwark against communism. Also, exporting grain was cheaper than stocking food grains beyond two years.

Why should India adopt this model?

India has a stock of 90.41 Mt, which is the highest till date. This count will further increase with the new paddy arrivals. The “carrying cost”, interest, storage and other expenses of the excess buffer has been estimated at Rs 5,589 per tonne for 2021-22. So, it will be beneficial for India to use this surplus stock diplomatically, especially with our neighbouring countries, either through a barter system or by donating.

What is the present crisis?

Afghanistan is facing a massive food crisis because of the frequent droughts, regime changes and overall political instability. Sri Lanka too is facing similar problems, which have been further worsened by dwindling foreign currency reserves. Thus, India should utilize this opportunity to deliver the message that no one should starve in South Asia – by exporting the food grains to these countries.

Source: This post is based on the following articles “It can be symbolic of a new India that it will not let anyone starve in South Asia” published in Indian Express on 27th September 2021.

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