Daily Editorial Analysis for 16th May 2022

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Devasahayam Pillai

Why in News: Pope Francis canonised Blessed Devasahayam during the Canonisation Mass in St Peter’s Basilica
• He was born a Hindu in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu and converted to Christianity in the 18th


  • Became the first Indian layman to be declared a saint by the Vatican
  • Besides Devasahayam, the Pope proclaimed five other men as saints:
  • Titus Brandsma, Cesar de Bus, Luigi Maria Palazzolo, Giustino Maria Russolillo, and Charles de Foucauld and
  • four women — Maria Rivier, Maria Francesca of Jesus Rubatto, Maria of Jesus Santocanale, and Maria Domenica


India’s U-turn on Wheat Exports

Why in News: In a knee-jerk reaction, the Government has banned wheat exports with effect from May 13
Why did India ban the export of wheat?

• Revised estimates of Wheat production much lowered than the estimated.
• In April’22 wheat inflation is at 9.59% against overall cereal inflation of 5.96%.
• Record retail inflation has punctured India’s export hopes.
• While wheat prices are up nearly 20%, prices of essential food items such as flour have risen nearly 15%
last year.
• Prices of other food items that use wheat, like bread and biscuits, have surged, too.
• Heatwaves in the latter part of March, especially in northwest India, impacted the production of food grains.
Is India staring at a food shortage?
• India’s grain stocks are well above the buffer levels and the decision to regulate wheat exports was taken largely to check prices and curb hoarding.
• The public distribution system in the country would run smoothly.
• However, the government has replaced wheat with rice in the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana scheme for 2022-23.
• The effort clearly is a response to the reduced availability of wheat.
How will the ban affect India’s neighbours?
• The export will be allowed to other countries “based on the request of their governments”.
• This window is crucial for Sri Lanka because the country is facing an economic crisis.
• Also, Bangladesh and Nepal have traditionally relied on Indian wheat.
What is the impact on farmers and traders?
• The farmers will lose the opportunity to get higher market price than MSP
• It may have an unfavourable impact on wheat farmers too.
• With wheat supplies from the Black Sea region drying up, Indian Agri players made hay out of the sharp uptick in the wheat demand.

Issues with the ban
• Banning export may not really help tackle inflation.
• This ban has impacted the credibility of India as a reliable supplier of anything in global markets.
o Addressing a virtual event last month, PM Narendra Modi had said that he told US President Joe Biden that India was “ready to supply food stock to the world” if the World Trade Organisation (WTO) came on board.
o External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, while speaking at the Raisina Dialogue last month, had said India is ready to take on the challenge to export food grains, especially wheat, to the world
• Experts fear that the move could also trigger a domino effect, prompting other countries to follow suit and restrict the supply of other grains
• It conveys that we don’t have any credible export policy as it can turn its back at the drop of a hat.
• More interestingly, it also reflects a deep-rooted consumer bias in India’s trade policies. It is this consumer bias that indirectly becomes anti-farmer. This ban deprives farmers from profit-making.
• It only shows the hollowness of Agri-trade policies and dreams of doubling Agri-exports and farmers’ income.
• The export ban also reflects poorly on India’s image in playing its shared global responsibility amid the Russia-Ukraine war.
What has been the global reaction to the ban?
• Criticising the export ban after a meeting in Germany, agriculture ministers of the G7 grouping said Saturday that such measures “would worsen the crisis” of rising commodity prices.
• India is the world’s second-largest wheat producer and was expected to fill the gap created because of the Ukraine war.
• However, wheat exports will be allowed in cases where an irrevocable letter of credit has already been issued.
Way forward
• Provide net positive support to the farmers like OECD countries, China, Brazil, Indonesia etc
• It may be recognised that inflation is a global phenomenon today caused by excessive liquidity injected by central banks and loose fiscal policies around the world.
• India’s wheat export ban will not help tame inflation at home.
• The Government could have announced a bonus of Rs 200-250/quintal on top of MSP to augment its wheat procurement.
• Bonus should be provided to the farmers to release their stock and they must be incentivised to increase area under wheat next season.

• Instead of outright ban on exports, the govt could have calibrated exports by putting some minimum export price (MEP).

Source: The Indian Express, Deccan Herald, The Hindu, The Economic Times, The Print
Q. Food Security and enhancing farmers’ income sometimes may be against each other. Critically examine the Govt’s move on wheat export ban. (250 words)
Q. Export ban on wheat may not be as useful as expected. Discuss (250 words.)
Q. Export ban on wheat is an anti-farmer act. Discuss (200 words)


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