If endosulfan is evil, why does the Indian farmer use it? Surely, there is a farmer's point of view. The first reports linking endosulfan to health problems and birth defects in Kasaragod, Kerala were published in February 2001 in Down to Earth. The Supreme Court has now banned the use of the pesticide till an expert committee submits its report in around eight weeks.

"Those that think that the market-led system is perfect are living in a dream... There is need for an optimal combination of around 70 per cent of market and 30 per cent state influence" - Ashok Gulati, Chairman Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, Ministry of Agriculture, in conversation with Ajay Jakhar and Paranjoy Guha Thakurta.

The more a farmer spends on fertiliser and pesticide, which he believes that he must to maintain yields from his gradually decaying parcel of land, the more is the rise in the disease burden amongst those who produce the food and those who consume it. It is not just about one shortcoming in the way India calculates food price. It is about a fundamental gap in the economic theory of calculating inflation based on food prices.

Balancing the conflicting interest of farmers, intermediaries and consumers is a tightrope walk for the Indian government even when there is price tranquility. This balancing exercise has become nightmarish in recent years with food inflation showing persistency and turbulence. These developments prompted the Cabinet Secretary to constitute an inter-ministerial group (IMG) to manage overall inflation with a focus on prices of primary food items in February 2011.