Food for Peace, formally known as P.L.480(Public Law 480) is a food assistance program initiated by the United States government. U.S. support for overseas food aid was formalized in the Agricultural Trade Development and assistance Act of 1954. In the year 1956, India was poverty stricken, hence could not afford to import the food required. India entered into an agreement with the United States providing for the import of surplus agricultural commodities, chiefly wheat, under the U.S. P.L.480.
Many countries have benefited from this program. But it has had its negative impact and has been one of the most harmful programs of aid to Third World countries. While sometimes alleviating hunger in the short run, the program usually lowers the price at which Third World farmers can sell their crops. This depresses local food production, making it harder for poor countries to feed themselves in the long run. Food for Peace has become an aid program for U.S, farmers to dump their surplus crops in Third World countries, while the U.S. taxpayer foots the bill, and the poor in less developed countries bear the ultimate high cost.
Under the P.L. 480 scheme, cheap quality wheat and rice grown in U.S. were exported to other countries which came under the agreement signed. Similar quality food was exported to India as well in “PL-480 ships”. In the year 1965, during the Indo-Pak war, U.S. government asked India to stop war and maintain peace. Since the Indian government refused to accept, the two PL 480 ships carrying wheat that was to be delivered to India was dropped into the Indian ocean. Due to the humiliation suffered by India, our then Prime minister Lal Bahudur Shastri called for “Jai Jawan Jai Kissan” (English: Hail the Soldier, Hail the Farmer). With this slogan, he encouraged the soldiers to defend India and simultaneously cheered the farmers to increase their production and reduce dependence on import. Lal Bahadur Shastri was not only the country’s second prime minister but also the man behind the revolution of the agricultural sector in India.