India's government has approved a massive food welfare program that would provide food security to the nation's poor.
The government sidestepped India's parliament and used an executive order Wednesday to implement the multi-billion program that would give food to nearly 70 percent of India's population. President Pranab Mukherjee is due to sign the National Food Security Bill as an ordinance, meaning it would come into law immediately, but must eventually be approved by parliament.
Analysts say the scheme is designed to increase the ruling Congress Party's popularity ahead of next year's national elections.
Opposition parties across India have questioned the rush to implement the scheme when the bill could have been discussed in parliament's upcoming session.
According to the United Nations, malnutrition is more common in India than in sub-Saharan Africa. UNICEF says one in every three children in India is malnourished and nearly half of all childhood deaths are attributed to malnutrition.
Millions in India rely on rice and wheat -- staple foods that are lacking in crucial vitamins and minerals.