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Thousands Protest High Food Prices in India


Demonstrators shout slogans as they hold steel plates during a protest against food prices in New Delhi, Feb. 23, 2011.

Demonstrators shout slogans as they hold steel plates during a protest against food prices in New Delhi, Feb. 23, 2011.

Tens of thousands of people have gathered in India's capital to protest surging food prices.

Demonstrators marched through the center of New Delhi Wednesday, heading towards the Indian parliament building as they chanted slogans against high food costs. Protesters included members of several trade unions, including one linked to India's ruling party.

India has been struggling with rising food inflation, which hit nearly 20 percent late last year. The country's poor have been especially affected.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said inflation poses a serious threat to the India's economic growth. He has called for an increase in food production.

Meanwhile, India's Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said Wednesday the government should give serious thought to allowing the export of limited quantities of wheat and rice because the country has ample stocks.

The move could curb rising global food prices.

India banned wheat exports in 2007 and non-basmati rice exports in 2008 to ensure sufficient domestic supplies. The country is the world's second largest producer of the food grains.

In addition to high food prices, the government is under pressure from several corruption scandals.

Wednesday's protests in New Delhi came a day after Prime Minister Singh gave in to calls for a parliamentary probe into a multi-billion-dollar telecommunications scandal involving the sale of mobile phone licenses.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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