Politicians avoid plain talk. So when one of the country’s most powerful leaders tells his constituents to face economic reality, it is time to sit up and take notice. The cane-crushing season has begun in Maharashtra amid a global sugar glut. Prices have dropped. The government, on the bidding of Sharad Pawar, has offered various sops to the sugar industry. The move to make it mandatory to mix ethanol with petrol is partly aimed at reducing the sugar glut.
These interventions have not helped. In fact, they are incentives to keep growing cane. But now, Pawar has unexpectedly told farmers in his constituency to start shifting to other crops. “Even God can’t offer a good price for sugar cane,” he has reportedly said.
Pawar’s statement points to a broader reality. Price signals should be heeded as far as possible. This is something those preventing a hike in oil prices, too, should realize.