News / Economy

    As India Passes Food Bill, Worries Over Cost

    Indian vendors arrange grain for display at their shop in Kolkata, August 26, 2013.
    Indian vendors arrange grain for display at their shop in Kolkata, August 26, 2013.
    Anjana Pasricha
    India’s finance minister said the country can afford a massive new government program to provide two-thirds of the country’s population with cheap food. It has been billed as the world’s biggest program to fight hunger, but there are fears it may further strain India’s weakening economy.     
     
    A day after the lower house of parliament approved a historic bill to provide heavily subsidized wheat and rice to nearly 800 million people, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said the government has budgeted for the ambitious program.
     
    The Food Security Bill was passed late Monday after an impassioned plea by the head of the ruling Congress Party, Sonia Gandhi.
     
    Sonia Gandhi told legislators it is not a question of how we find means to implement the food bill, we have to find the way. She said it will transform the lives of tens of millions of people.
                                                  
    The bill will become law after it is approved by the upper house later this week.
     
    It will dramatically expand an existing food subsidy program that covers about 200 million people. The government hopes it will wipe out hunger in a country where malnutrition is widespread. According to the United Nations, India is home to one quarter of the world’s hungry people.   
     
    But the main worries center around the program’s huge cost: an estimated $20 billion every year.
     
    The central bank has already warned that increased public spending on implementing the food bill could deepen the government's deficit and stoke inflation.
     
    Amid such concerns, stock markets plunged Tuesday and the already weakening rupee hit a new record low against the dollar.  
     
    That prompted assurances from Finance Minister Chidambaram, who said India can absorb the massive cost of the food security bill. He said the budget deficit will be controlled despite the added burden. 

    “We are now on a path of fiscal consolidation. We have some of the best advisers, best economic minds in the world. We will contain the current account deficit, so why doubt our capacity,” said Chidambaram.
     
    Opposition parties have supported the food bill, but slammed it as a program meant to gather public support ahead of national elections next year. Murli Manohar Joshi is a senior leader of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.
     
    “This is an inadequate bill, this is a vote security bill, it does not mean anything about food security,” said Joshi.
     
    Populist programs meant to attract voters are not new. In the run up to the last two general elections, the Congress Party passed a massive rural jobs plan and waived farm loans worth billions of dollars.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Gis from: Mumbai
    August 30, 2013 2:49 AM
    I really think the government have to take drastic measures to put a stall to increasing of population of people who cannot make 3 times meals.IT is high time to implement strong population control measures rather than just giving food at cheaper price to the gorwing undernurished people!

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.9017
    JPY
    USD
    102.66
    GBP
    USD
    0.7443
    CAD
    USD
    1.2990
    INR
    USD
    67.600

    Rates may not be current.