Food For All
Valedictory Session


Keynote Address
Shri Chandra Shekhar
Former Prime Minister of India

Beginning the valedictory session, Shri R. K. Mishra welcomed Shri Chandra Shekhar who had joined the seminar a little earlier, and called upon him to present the keynote address of the evening. Shri Chandra Shekhar spoke in Hindi. Below we give a brief translation of his address. Shri Chandra Shekhar said:

I wanted to be present in this seminar from the morning. Unfortunately, because of some personal compulsions I could not come earlier, and thus I have not been able to listen to what others have said since the morning. I have come now for a short while to register my association with the objective for which this seminar has been called. I have tried to look into the work that Dr. Bajaj and other friends have done; I shall only say that they have tried to draw our attention to a core issue of national life. The way things are moving in our country makes one wonder whether we are at all willing to think about and comprehend the problems facing us. We are refusing to learn from the past or the present. To run down our past achievements is considered progressive today. And we do not find it proper or necessary to associate with whatever steps are being taken in the present to deal with the problems. A nation, in which this kind of attitude comes to prevail, finds it difficult to face the challenges before it.

The book around which this seminar is being conducted refers to the earlier Indian discipline of growing and sharing food in abundance. In such a discussion, it serves no purpose to be bogged down in debating the meanings of different terms and phrases. We can keep discussing for ever whether dana, sharing and giving, is an insult to the receiver or it is a pointer to the generous impulses inherent in man. The issue was intensely debated during Shri Vinoba Bhave’s bhudan movement, that tried to make the landholders voluntarily give up parts of their holdings for the sake of the landless. Vinoba, basing himself on the Indian classical literature, had answered that dana is no insult to anybody. Dana, he said, is not giving but right sharing, samvibhaga; those who have got enough share a part of their affluence with those who have been deprived; societies live and flourish only through such sharing.

If we could reawaken that sentiment of sharing, so that we could all of us together deploy the resources we have for the uplift of the whole society, then there is no problem that the nation cannot solve. If we could properly utilise the resources that nature has bestowed upon us, the skills and the capacity to work that our people have, and the great traditions that we are blessed with, then all our problems shall be solved. Nature has given us fertile lands and excellent climate; and there are almost a hundred crores of our brothers and sisters who are willing to contribute their labour and be satisfied with very little. What do we lack?

This sentiment of being satisfied with minimal material rewards has not grown out of poverty. For thousands of years our rishis, munis, and other sadhakas have taught us to take only as much from nature and the society as is absolutely essential for living. Today the world is talking about sustainable development, and of living a life in harmony with nature. We have learnt this lesson of taking from nature only as much as is essential for life thousands of years ago. We in this country have learnt to worship trees, birds and animals. It is true that today some amongst us take it to be an obscurantist practice. But we have begun to dismiss as mere obscurantism the entire art of living in harmony with nature that our civilisation teaches us with such rigour.

In the art of living that the rishis taught, sharing of all kinds was valued. There were those who had no wealth of their own, who begged from the resourceful people in the society, and distributed what they thus got amongst the destitute. There were those who shared their learning, performed vidyadana in the gurukulas, and those who grew food or were otherwise resourceful saw to it that the gurukulas were provided for so that the vidyadana might continue uninterrupted.

I do not want to go into detailed discussion of our earlier ways of living. The situation we are caught in today is certainly worrisome. People cannot live on 200 kilograms of grains per capita per year. And this 200 kilograms, of course, is not available to everybody. There are many in India who do not get two square meals a day; there are many who get nothing to eat. It is not that we have not done anything about the problem of food during the last fifty years. Our cultivators have put in hard labour, our agricultural scientists have developed new technologies, and we have indeed increased our total production of foodgrains. But, there is much that remains to be done.

There is a basic question that we have to address: Do we have the land and the resources to substantially increase the production of foodgrains? We have an abundance of cultivable and fertile lands. There are at least ten crore people who shall be happy to get a chance to work on the land. But we are unable to bring the hands and the land together. This is not a task that society can perform on its own.Voluntary agencies do not have the resources to do it. The state alone has the resources to perform the task; and, I believe the state should do it.

Another point I want to emphasise is that there is no country in the world that does not aim at self-reliance in food. The UK, the USA, Canada, Germany, Japan, etc., all make the necessary effort to achieve self-reliance in the production of food. They all give out extensive subsidies to encourage agriculture. They may tell others that subsidies are not good for the economy. In their own countries they take it to be their duty to ensure continued vibrancy of their agriculture, even at the cost of huge subsidies. I do not understand why we are making so much noise aboutdoing away with subsidies. The state can probably shirk from its responsibility in many sectors; it cannot shirk the responsibility of ensuring plentiful production and proper distribution of foodgrains.

A majority of our cultivators, 80 to 90 percent of them, operate holdings of less than a hectare. These cultivators grow food mainly for their own consumption; they have little to sell in the market. The government procures foodgrains from the other 10 percent who are relatively better off; it is no crime if the government pays them a price that is somewhat below what they could have got in a free global market of foodgrains. After all, the developmental facilities and inputs provided by the government are utilised largely by the same relatively better off cultivators. I do not believe that the government commits any sin by subsidising the distribution of foodgrains; feeding the hungry is after all one of the primary responsibilities of the government.

Nowadays it has become fashionable to say that the government should give up responsibility in various sectors; we want the government out of production and distribution of food, we want it out of education, and so on. When the constitution was drafted, it was promised to the people of India that every boy and girl shall receive education up to the age of 14 years, and the government shall be responsible for providing such education. Slowly the government is extricating itself out of this commitment. The responsibility has not been relinquished openly, but the language that the government used in, say, 1968 and the language that is used today in 1997 to describe the government’s commitments in this regard is quite different. The government has changed its language; but the society has not changed, large numbers of boys and girls still remain uneducated.

I do not want to get into any controversy regarding the role of the government; but there are certain responsibilities that devolve on the government. When there is acute poverty and destitution, when there is an unacceptable level of inequity in the distribution of resources, the government has a definite role to play. I shall request that we should not adopt too rigid a stand on the relative roles of the state and the society; and we should try to be restrained while criticising the government for its various failings.

A second request that I want to make is that we should take note of the fact that all countries of the world are conscious of the crucial importance of food. I do not know on what basis do we talk of importing food to feed our people. If we are not self-sufficient in food, then we cannot preserve our independence; this is a principle that the whole world accepts today. Therefore, if we have to subsidise production in India, then let it be so. If by subsidising agriculture we can increase production of foodgrains to a desirable level, and in the process give work to ten crore people and make our lands fertile, then there can hardly be anything wrong in such subsidies.

There are perhaps many ways of enhancing production and ensuring equitable distribution. But those of us who are opposed to the intervention of the state in these matters have a special responsibility to convince those who have enough to give a part of what they have to others. Let it be called sharing or dana or whatever, words do not matter. However, if we fail to associate ourselves with the feelings of the people, and do not do something urgent about the prevalent hunger, then the hungry shall sooner or later explode into a revolt. In that situation, not only our society shall face further disorganisation, but also the task of increasing production of food that we are deliberating on today shall suffer a great setback. It is true that the people of India have great patience and are satisfied with little; this patience and fortitude they have acquired from the great tradition of India. If we do not endeavour to fulfil even the minimal expectations that people of India have from life, then their patience and fortitude may be stretched to the limit, and the civilisational tradition of India itself may come into question.

The effort that has been made here to comprehend our current problems concerning food and hunger in the perspective of our age-old tradition and discipline is certainlycommendable. Let us understand the past and the present; and create a climate where the government, the social institutions and the people can all work together to face the challenges before the nation. Let us forget small differences over language and ideology, and endeavour to find a common way of solving our problems. The attempt that Shri R. K. Mishra, Shri Bajaj and their organisations have made today is a step in the right direction. Such efforts should be encouraged. My best wishes are with them. I assure you that I shall be always willing to offer whatever contribution I can make to this effort; I shall be always ready to do whatever I can for this cause.

I once again express regrets for my inability to spend more time with you. Please excuse me.
Shri Chandra Shekhar’s wife, Shrimati Dvija Devi, had taken seriously ill before the seminar and had been admitted to a hospital; therefore he had to leave immediately after his presentation. On behalf of the organisers and the participants, Shri Mishra, expressed gratitude to him for having come and associated himself with this effort, in spite of the serious illness of his wife. Shri Mishra assured him that his deep commitment and sensitivity to the issue were highly appreciated, and the organisers would do everything possible to carry forward the issue with his support, which he had so generously extended. Shrimati Dvija Devi did not recover from her illness, and left for her heavenly abode within a week. We convey our sincere condolences to Shri Chandra Shekhar.

Valedictory Address
Shri Pranab Mukherjee
Former Union Minister for Finance

I am glad that I have this privilege of participating in the valedictory session of this seminar, where a cross section of people is assembled from different sections of the society. I was listening to some of the observations made by the participants, who have indeed given a multidimensional approach to the discussion.

I would like to confine my observations to a few limited points. I would start from the conclusions which Dr. Bajaj and his colleagues have arrived at: that 200 kg per capita of availability of food that we have is not adequate. I have no hesitation in agreeing with this perception. I do believe that there is a need for making a quantum jump in our food production, particularly in grain production.

If we look at the developments of the last fifty years, especially from the beginning of the first plan till the end of the eighth plan, we find that there was a period when we actually had a quantum jump in grain production. In 1965 our total grain production was about 72 million tons, and in 1977 we reached a figure of 127 million tons. That helped us to sustain, I do not say self-sufficiency, but near self-sufficiency in foodgrains. Later, our efforts in agriculture slackened. When I was the deputy chairman of the planning commission, I put forward the proposal that we should declare the decade of 90’s as the decade of quantum jump in foodgrains production, a decade when we would increase production by not mere 10 or 12 million tons, but make a quantum jump to a minimum of 250 million tons. I was not able to convince the agricultural experts.

There are no two opinions on the issue that the responsibility of feeding nearly one billion people lies with the sovereign government of the day, and on the people of the country. It can never be done by outsiders. And, if we do not have food security we cannot have independence. Two essential ingredients of political independence are: one, the responsibility to protect yourself, to make your borders secure; and two, to feed yourselves. No other country is going to feed India; none has the capacity.

How do we feed India? For distribution you may have various agencies. You may distribute through the agencies of the state or through cultural and religious organisations; but in order to distribute, we have to first produce.

Production depends upon the farmers. Unless we have a flexible policy with regard to the farmers, we may end up with a serious problem. You cannot tie the farmers to a particular type of production. If we cannot extend the technology, which is available and is already applied in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, to other parts of the country immediately, we are going to have a very serious problem. Because the farmers of these regions, on which we have become so highly dependent for our foodgrains, are bound to switch over to a different crop pattern. They are bound to begin growing crops that may bring them higher prices.

Productivity in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh is above 3,000 kg per hectare compared to 500 to 600 kg in the whole of eastern India. Availability of foodgrains can be substantially increased if we simply pass on the already proven technologies to these vast areas of abysmally low production and apply other measures that go with the technology.

With regard to import and export of grains, I would suggest that we must have a pragmatic and practical approach. We in the government have on several occasions found, that if we try to have an ideological approach in these matters, we only end up causing harm to the cultivators. Sometime in early 80’s, I was temporarily holding charge of the civil supplies ministry along with the ministry of finance. There was then an agitation by the farmers of Nasik; they had produced a bumper crop of onions but the prevailing law and rules did not permit export of onions. What would you do in such a situation? Therefore, both exports and imports have to be kept flexible. We cannot afford a strict ideological position on this issue.

Coming back to our main issue, I believe increasing production is the most important aspect of our food problem. In this the farmer is the crucial actor. Our policies must be such that the farmer feels encouraged to produce more. I need not go into the details of the national agricultural policy, which has been amended from time to time. But three major aspects of the policy must be reaffirmed. First, the farmers must have remunerative prices. Second, efforts should be made to transfer technologies from one region to the other. And third, there must be stability of not only operations but also policies. Too frequent changes in policy do not help.

The next question is that of distribution. Having produced food, how are we going to ensure that it becomes available for all? This would require an overall improvement in the economic power of the people. When the so-called great famine of Bengal took place, which claimed five million lives, I was living in a small village in West Bengal. I was only six years old then, but I still remember that in those days people did not ask for rice, they only asked for the water that is usually thrown away after cooking rice. It was not that price of rice was very high, but people did not have the power to buy. Purchasing power is very important. That is why the programmes designed to enhance incomes of the poor must be pursued diligently.

The third issue on which we need to concentrate is irrigation. We have completed eight five-year plans, five annual plans, and now have entered into the ninth plan. But still not more than one-third of our cultivated land is under assured irrigation. This is an area where we must concentrate. I think if we have five priority areas for public expenditure and public investment, irrigation shall have to be one such area. Due to some reason or the other, and mainly because of the constitutional distribution of authority between the states and the centre, emphasis on irrigation has slackened. If you compare the investment in irrigation that took place from the first plan to the sixth plan, and between the sixth plan to the eighth plan, you shall see it coming down sharply.One of the major reasons for this decline is that in the old formula for distribution of resources from the centre to the states, there was a separate component of irrigation. Ten per cent of the total central assistance to the states was earmarked for irrigation, and this was distributed to the various major irrigation projects of the states. In 1980, in the National Development Council, the chief ministers, of all the states, irrespective of their political affiliations, demanded that as irrigation was basically a state subject, the irrigation component of central plan assistance must be transferred to the funds disbursed on the criterion of poverty. Sixty-five percent of central assistance is disbursed on the basis of population; the remaining on the basis of per capita income. The states, especially the four poorest states, wanted that the irrigation component should become part of disbursements made on the basis of per capita income. The suggestion was accepted, but I must say it was lack of foresight on our part. Because, actual investment in irrigation went down. It is not that investment in irrigation was too high earlier, but whatever little investment might have taken place from the first to fifth plans, it came down drastically during the sixth and seventh plans. Nowadays, in the enhanced irrigation scheme, they are trying to bring back the earlier arrangement. I think some sort of consensus needs to be evolved on this issue, particularly in the National Development Council.

Another area where states need to make effective intervention is in correcting the terms of trade in favor of agriculture. Unless the various distortions that have crept into the terms of trade are corrected by appropriate policy mechanism, I am afraid we will not be able to provide any long term solution to the problems of the farmers.

I shall also like to share my own ideas about the World Trade Organisation, because I was the main negotiator there on behalf of the country. I have shared my perception with the Parliament, and I strongly believe that so far as agriculture is concerned we have nothing to be worried from the WTO. We do not have to reduce any subsidies in this sector, because when we convert payments we make to farmers into international prices, our farmers seem to be receiving a negative subsidy. We have nothing to worry about import obligations either, because in the next fifteen or twenty years international prices of most of the agricultural products would be much higher compared to the Indian prices. Who would be foolish enough to import and sell at a higher price what is available cheaper in the Indian market?

So long as the state has to maintain public distribution system, there must be a buffer stock; if this stock is to be maintained, there shall have to be occasional imports, though of not any large magnitude. I, for one, am certain that we cannot dismantle the state system of procurement and distribution and leave everything to the market forces. If the public distribution system is faulty and inadequate, the answer does not lie in demolishing the system altogether; it lies in improving the system, in enhancing the outlets, in making it more effective. Whoever may come to power in India, but none can take the risk of having a situation where government would be helpless and entirely dependent on the market in the matter of foodgrains.

To sum up then, we shall have to improve production, for that all incentives shall have to be provided to the cultivators, who are the main actors in the field of agriculture. And once production takes place, distribution shall have to be arranged. Bulk of the problem of distribution can be left to the market, but state intervention is inevitable to ensure that the poorest sections too can get food at prices that they can afford.

Chief Guest’s Address:
Shri L. K. Advani
President, Bharatiya Janata Party

Shri Advani spoke in Hindi; following is a brief English version of his address:

I am extremely grateful for the invitation to attend this seminar; I believe that this is a unique event in itself. I have attended many seminars; the format of this seminar and the inspiration behind it are entirely different from any other that I have attended. I do not remember any single book having given rise to this level of discussion. Dr. Bajaj and Dr. Srinivas, the authors of the book around which this seminar has been conceived, are not economists; to my knowledge both are competent physicists. The book they have written has indeed little of obvious economics in it, only the last chapter talks about economic facts and figures regarding production and distribution of food in India. The rest of the book narrates stories from the Upanishad, Veda, Purana, and Dharma-Shastra; and also from relatively more recent history of India. It describes in great detail what is said in the classical sources about the traditions and discipline of producing and sharing food in abundance. What is described is indeed extremely interesting; reading the book one becomes really absorbed in the narration, and is filled with a nostalgic yearning for the greatness of India.

This book first gave rise to a conference of the great Acharyas of India in the most holy kshetra of Shri Tirumala, where the book was released. The Acharyas deliberated on the issues raised in the book and came to certain conclusions. Now those conclusions are being presented and discussed in Delhi before the entire spectrum of political leadership of India. Describing this step-by-step process of deliberations, the authors of the book state in their note circulated this morning, “…Keeping the moral dimension of the problem in view, we first presented it before the highest Acharyas of India today. The Acharyas met in October last at Shri Tirumala and proclaimed that the state of hunger and malnutrition in a society represents a state of lack of dharma and India ought to make all efforts to get out of this state immediately. Now we are posing this problem before the political leadership of India.” I must thank Shri R. K. Mishra for making this meeting of the political leadership possible.

I have been sitting here and listening to the deliberations for some time. I find that there is little difference of opinion amongst the participants on this subject; there is difference of emphasis of course, but no real difference on the imperative of eradicating scarcity and hunger from India. But how is it to be done? If we look at it from the point of view of economic expertise then the problem seems somewhat insurmountable. Shri Pranab Mukherjee has very effectively described the political, administrative, and economic constraints on quickly enhancing production and distribution of foodgrains. But, Dr. Bajaj in his concluding remarks very briefly mentioned that the problems and issues acquire an entirely different dimension when looked upon from the perspective of the kind of quantum jump in production and distribution that he and his colleagues envisage, and that the country needs to make today. I was listening to this formulation of Dr. Bajaj with great interest; I wish he had described it in further detail.

As far as the question of ameliorating hunger is concerned, we can certainly explore other options than that of market– or state– intervention. As has been often mentioned here today, the religious institutions of India are uniquely well equipped to intervene; they have a tradition of organising public feeding of large numbers. Gurudwaras perform this function on a large scale. I am myself from Sindh, and I remember that during my childhood celebrating guruparva, the birthdays of the gurus, essentially meant partaking of langar, the public feeding in the Gurudwara. Eating in the Gurudwara on those auspicious days was almost a duty; there was no question of feeling low that we were accepting food from others. On the other hand, wefelt happy at having partaken of the prasada of the gurus, and we believed that such prasada shall help in making us better and successful human beings. I have also had the good fortune of visting Shri Dharmasthala, where thousands of people are fed every day. The Heggade of Shri Dharmasthala is responsible for this feeding. The great dignity, cleanliness and efficiency with which food is served there has to be seen to be believed.

For Annabahulya, increasing production of foodgrains, we have to of course look into issues like improving cultivators’ access to technology and inputs, ensuring proper marketing facilities and offering just prices to the cultivators for their produce, undertaking necessary land-reforms, especially consolidation of holdings, and so on. As far as the other aspect of the problem, that of Annadana, of reaching the food to the hungry, is concerned, the religious institutions and the religious instinct of the people of India have definitely got a big role to play. We should probably think of organising another conference of the high Acharyas of different religions and communities of India, like the conference held in Shri Tirumala, where a detailed plan for eradication of hunger from the face of India and ensuring that not a single individual in India is forced to sleep on a hungry stomach may be evolved.

It is absolutely essential now to evolve such a plan. Because, till every Indian does not get enough food, and that too of high nutritional value and in complete dignity, till then we cannot claim to have become truly independent. We are celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Independence, but our freedom shall not be complete till all Indians are not made free of hunger.

This seminar brings to mind another aspect of Indian public life. I understand that at Independence we decided to adopt democratic ways of functioning. This meant that people following different ideologies shall take adversarial roles; they shall discuss and debate issues on the basis of their conflicting ideologies and viewpoints; and the country shall progress along its democratic path through their adversarial interaction. In the fifty years since Independence, we have reached where we have through this approach. But, while accepting this adversarial interaction as an essential part of democratic functioning, we must recognise that the problems of India are complex, and unless we arrive at a consensus on a number of issues, we may not be able to move at all. Till the political leadership of all parties does not agree on certain basic issues and the ways of tackling them, we shall not be able to do any good for the country, that all of us certainly intend to do. I believe that the initiative that the Observer Research Foundation and the Centre for Policy Studies have taken in bringing together leaders of different political parties in this seminar shall prove to be of far-reaching consequence.

Today I have heard some controversy about the number of Indian children who are undernourished; some said that 70% of children below the age of five are malnourished, others said that the figure is nearer 60%, and one of the experts mentioned a figure of 52%. I do not know which figure is correct; but even if 52% of Indian children are malnourished, it is a matter of shame for all of us, and if 70% are malnourished then the situation is truly horrific. That we, senior representatives of different political parties, have discussed this serious issue is important in itself. But, it may not be possible to arrive at a plan of action to remedy the situation in this seminar. This seminar shall create the necessary awareness. With this awareness, some of us should sit together and work out the necessary plan of action. At least on a question like this we can transcend our political differences and sit together and arrive at a consensus on what we as a nation need to do.

When the British left this country, we were in a very difficult situation. It is true that before the British arrived, our agriculture was flourishing, but 200 years of British rule brought us to a very poor state. In the fifty years since their departure we have quadrupled the production of foodgrains; but the growth has barely kept pace with our growing population and we have not been able to significantly improve per capita availability of food in the country. According to the figures given in the background notecirculated here, we are probably the poorest amongst the nations of the world, in terms of per capita availability of foodgrains. This seminar has certainly succeeded in drawing attention to this state of affairs.

One of the objectives of the seminar, according to the organizers, was to “focus attention on the state of hunger and malnutrition that prevails in India”, and they have expressed their confidence that, “once the nation is concerned about the problem, solutions shall emerge.” I feel that the seminar has certainly achieved this objective. When we part from here, the precarious situation of India in matters of food and hunger shall be etched on our minds, and we shall part with the resolution that notwithstanding the various ideological differences we have amongst ourselves, we need to come together to solve such basic problems. I request you to value this feeling of the need to work together that this seminar has generated; because unless we transcend our differences and make agreed national plans for solving the basic problems of India, we shall not be able to do our duty to the nation.


Blessings
Shri Kaliyan Vanamamalai Jeeyar Swamiji

Shri Jeeyar Swamiji spoke in Hindi; and also quoted profusely from the Sanskrit texts, especially from the descriptions of Ramarajya in Shri Valmikiya Ramayana. Following is a brief English translation of Shri Jeeyar Swamiji’s address:

I am extremely happy to have come here and attended this very useful seminar this day. I have been present in both the morning and the evening sessions, and I have listened to the ideas expressed by eminent persons from different walks of life. I must say that all the speeches today have been relevant, beautiful, meaningful and up to the mark. I am happy to note that the efforts of the Observer Research Foundation and the Centre for Policy Studies to convene this conference have been a grand success.

We are now coming to the end of the valedictory session. In the Taittiriya Upanishad there are some extremely beautiful verses where the acharya gives valedictory advice to the students who have completed their education while living as brahmacharis in the ashram, and are about to enter the world as householders, grihasthas. Amongst other things, the acharya advises the future grihasthas to worship the father as god, the mother as god, and the atithi, every seeker of hospitality who comes to the door unexpected and uninvited, as god. Such is the teaching of the Upanishad.

I recall a very well known couplet of Shri Kabir Das, in which he prays that god may grant him just enough worldly goods, so that his family may not be in want, and neither he nor any seeker at the door may have to go hungry. Such is our way; we do not seek worldly riches for ourselves alone, we seek so that we may share. We endeavour to have an abundance so that we may never have to say no to anyone who asks. This is the golden rule of our culture.

The Ramayana of Mahakavi Shri Valmiki defines the essential attributes of Ramarajya, the time when Shri Rama himself rules over the earth, in the very first chapter of the great epic and again towards the end. The most important attribute of Ramarajya that Mahakavi Valmiki recounts is that when Shri Rama rules, rains fall at the proper time, the earth yields an abundance, and no living being knows hunger, disease or untimely death. All of us aspire to bring back Ramarajya in our motherland, we constantly speak about it, therefore it is indeed our duty that we free our motherland from scarcity and hunger, and restore to her the abundance and contentment that is the most important attribute of Ramarajya.

If we are serious about eliminating scarcity and hunger from India, and restoring Ramarajya in our holy land, then we must undertake to change the way of thinking of both the government and the people. The government and the people shall have to cooperate with each other to performthe great task of growing an abundance and sharing it with all.

Tomorrow evening we shall be celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Indian Independence. This seminar has been organised at the most appropriate occasion. I am convinced that with the high leaders of Indian political life participating in the discussions today, we shall make the most serious efforts to rid our motherland of scarcity and hunger, and we shall soon have the good fortune of seeing Ramarajya established in our country again.

I was fortunate to be present in the sadas held at Shri Tirumala last October, when this question was discussed amongst many high Acharyas of India. What the Acharyas discussed and proclaimed there as the essential dharma of India has now been brought before the political leaders of India in Delhi. I have no doubt that the problem shall now be addressed, and the dharma of abundance and sharing shall soon be restored.

Finally, I must say a few words about the book, Annam Bahu Kurvita, that has given rise to all this discussion. I have only one word to describe it: wonderful. If my words lead some of you to read this book seriously, then I shall feel that my efforts have been repaid.
The kind of deliberations that have been held today, ought to be conducted very often; such deliberations focus the attention of the nation along the right path.

I pray to god that all those who have participated in today’s deliberations be blessed with happiness, and let the whole world be happy. Let me end with this prayer:

sarve bhavantu sukhinah sarve santu niramayah
sarve bhadrani pasyantu ma kascid dukhabhagbhavet

The seminar concluded with an expression of thanks by Shri R. K. Mishra and recitation of swasti mantras by the vaidikas.