standards. According to Dandekar and Rath since for the first four lowest brackets, covering about 38 per cent of the rural population, this expenditure is beyond reach, it is estimated that they are then living in chronic starvation, or what is commonly known as below the poverty line'.
It is again envisaged that for the urban population to reach this calory consumption level, a monthly per capita expenditure of Rs 24-28 is necessary. Since the first eight lowest brackets lie below this, it follows that more than 50 per cent of them are also below the 'poverty line'.
This study has been based on the National Sample Survey Reports at 1960-61 prices. The sweeping changes that shook this country thereafter, especially during the last three years, cannot be assessed owing to lack of data. However, the result of a study2 which takes into account the price level up to 1968-69, has indicated that 54 per cent of the rural population is below the poverty line.
It is against this background that the food policy of the Congress Government must be assessed. An ideal and permanent solution to this problem entails radical programmes including basic reforms in land ownership and re-orientation of the price-income policies, which precisely because of its class character, the present government, cannot accomplish. Instead, the country is time and again treated with populist slogans regarding procurement, distribution, etc. Therefore, our main endeavour in this note is to highlight how government policy is tailored to enrich a microscopic minority of landlords and capitalist farmers, amidst mass poverty.
Assessment of Surplus
Taking our data from the National Sample Survey 1960-61 about the pattern of land ownership, it is found that the three top layers of landowners, whose numerical strength is only 12 per cent in terms of the total farming households, have a monopoly of 60 per cent of the cultivable land in this country (see Table 1). Considering that their dietary habits are more diversified (less in favour of cereals), it is clear that they are in possession of a substantial amount of surplus which could easily be mopped up by compulsory procurement.
If we calculate the consumption at 700 grammes per day per adult for the peasantry owning above one acre wet, or 2.5 acre dry land (30 million households and 120 million people), the net requirement of the farming community, per annum is 30 million tonnes. Leaving another 10 million tonnes in their hands for seeds and other ploughing-back, the net surplus in the year 1972-73 (estimated production 100 million tonnes) will be 60 million tonnes. This is sufficient to feed the 440 million non-farming population including those with holdings of less than one acre wet or 2.5 acre dry at the rate of approximately 450 grammes of cereals and 50 grammes of pulse per day per adult.