P Sainath enlightens

H/l: State heading for food crisis’

With decreased food grain production in Maharashtra and around 80 lakh farmers quitting the occupation over the last two decades, the state is in for a severe food crisis, said senior journalist P Sainath here on Thursday. Sainath was interacting with journalism students and reporters at a programme organised by the Pune Union of Working Journalists.

Comparing the per capita food-grain production of Maharashtra with the neighbouring states, Sainath said Maharashtra stands at the lowest position with 100.6 kg per person, where as Bihar is highest with 262 kg, followed by Karnataka -186 kg, Andhra Pradesh -180 kg and Goa -104 kg.

Sainath quoted the Maharashtra Economic Survey Report during 2006-2009 and highlighted that 20 lakh persons in the state had lost their jobs even before the economic slowdown, sugarcane production had reduced by 43 percent, oilseeds production had dipped by 49 percent and food grain production had come down by 24 percent. He also added that according to the 2001 census, 42 percent of Maharashtra was urbanised, which is likely to rise to 45 to 48 percent in the 2011 census report.

He criticised the media for portraying the 2009 state polls as “issue-less” elections.
“While there are real issues concerning the nation, the media has always been trying to reduce then into a fight between two individuals -Shahrukh Khan versus Uddhav Thackeray, Amar Singh versus Mulayam Singh to give a few instances," he said.

Sainath also referred to “paid news” in the 2009 elections. Commercialisation of media houses, increase in contract journalism and decline of journalists’ union are some of the reasons for paid news, he said.

“Earlier, corruption was among certain individual journalists, when journalists had an alternative. Today, it has become a multi-crore industry with little or no choice,” he said. He urged the aspiring and working journalists to fight against corporate culture to curb paid news.


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