Lal Bahadur Shastri – Food crisis, 1964

PM with a difference:

                    On 2 June 1964, Shastri was asked by the President to form a new government. Shastri retained the members of the erstwhile Nehru cabinet and inducted two new ministers, S. K. Patil and Indira Gandhi. She agreed to join Shastri’s government as Minister of Information and Broadcasting. Shastri not only demonstrated his freedom to form his ministry but also insisted on the collective responsibility of his cabinet. He shared his powers with his cabinet colleagues and encouraged free and frank discussion in the cabinet. “For the first time, new cabinet proceedings were characterized by full-dress discussion on analysis on the agenda”.


Food crisis, 1964:

                Due to the shortage of food grains, the food prices had risen by about 22% in the past eighteen months,  which was as much as the rise in the preceding ten years. Shastri formulated an All-India Food Policy.

 1) Food ships destined to go to other ports were arranged to divert to India.;

2) the import of food grains were increased;

3) the network of fair-price shops was spread over the country;

4) an Agricultural Commission was constituted to keep the price situation under constant review;

5) a Food Grains Trading Corporation was set upto purchase internal agricultural produce at remunerative prices and to ensure a proper distribution system in the country;

6) an Agricultural Commission was charged with the work of fixing reasonable margins fo prices to be enforced at wholesalers and retailers levels;

7) intensive irrigation was given priority;

8) plant protection measures were extended throughout the country;

9) legislation was introduced for quality control of imported seeds; and

10) large and more number of rice mills were established.

These measures were intended to attain self-sufficiency in food by the end of the fourth five-year plan. Thus, a firm foundation was laid for Green Revolution.


Momentous Measures:

                     Several other stem measures were taken to protect consumer interests, control corruption and to enforce a code of conduct for ministers. Steps were taken to control prices of cloth by law. Efforts were made to rectify the imbalance in the country’s development planning which had led to inflation. Governmental expenditure was curtailed and stricter standards enforced on fixing standards. Shastri insisted on completion of the projects in progress rather than introducing new ones and suggested that the Planning Commission should not hesitate to postpone some of the projects in the field of heavy industry. A crackdown was carried out against black marketers, food hoarders, smugglers and foreign exchange racketeers.