News / Asia

India’s Food Security Plan Met With Skepticism

India’s Food Security Scheme Met With Skepticismi
X
July 08, 2013 3:42 PM
India's government is moving forward with a landmark measure that will provide highly subsidized food grains to more than two-thirds of the country's 1.2 billion population. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more on the implications of the food security ordinance.
India’s Food Security Scheme Met With Skepticism
India's government is moving forward with a landmark measure that will provide highly subsidized food grains to more than two-thirds of the country's 1.2 billion population.

With food inflation hitting 8.25 percent in May, New Delhi resident Geeta Kashyap bargains even harder at the market to keep costs down. As food prices rise, she is left to wonder how the poorest in India can survive.
 
“Everything is so expensive now, diesel is expensive, gasoline is expensive, food is getting expensive - tomatoes that used to be 20 rupees a kilo are now 70 rupees a kilo - how can someone eat?” asked Kashyap.
 
It’s a question the Indian government wants to answer with the food security program - aimed at guaranteeing a majority of India’s population five kilograms of rice, wheat and coarse cereal a month at extremely cheap rates of one to three rupees or a few pennies per kilogram.
 
High rate of malnutrition

The measure is crucial in a country with a quarter of the world’s hungry poor and where one out of three children is said to suffer from malnutrition - a rate higher than sub-Saharan Africa.
 
The food security ordinance also will provide free meals to poor children and pregnant women.
 
While the measure looks to expand food subsidies to 50 percent of India’s urban population and to 75 percent of the country’s rural population, many say that unless the government fixes the flawed public distribution system, its unclear just how many people can benefit.
 
Bharat Ramaswami with the Indian Statistical Institute was one of 45 economists from around the world who signed an open letter to ruling Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi in 2011, urging the central government to consider alternative modes of subsidy delivery, such as direct money transfers, instead of relying on a public distribution system that is beset with problems.
 
“There are huge amounts of money to be made illegally by diverting this grain to the market, and that’s been a big source of both leakage and corruption, and just outright fraud,” said Ramaswami.

Concerns about public distribution

Ramaswami said that anywhere from 40 to 50 percent of the value of the subsidy is lost to leakage.
 
He is not alone. Many who frequent this market in the Indian capital, like Sushil Kumar, are skeptical highly subsidized grains will make it to those who actually need it.
 
“What store owner is going to give rice for 3 rupees a kilo? How will a person have proof that he is poor and entitled to these subsidies. He needs a card to show to a shop owner,” said Kumar.

Others, like Trishna Garg, say the Cabinet approved the bill and the president signed it into ordinance at a time when the Congress party is eager to get support ahead of next year’s elections.

“They did this for the votes, the government doesn’t really do anything, but during election time, they say, this will be cheaper, but nothing happens,” said Garg.

Others, meanwhile, have questioned how India can afford the cost of a food subsidy program that will rise to at least $21 billion. It’s an issue that likely will come up when the ordinance is debated in the monsoon session of parliament.

You May Like

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
July 08, 2013 5:51 PM
It is just a political stunt before the elections. The 66% of the people in India are not poor. It is a gimmick to get votes from the 66% of voters. With the growing rich and the middle class this is the greatest of all subsidies in the world. India cannot afford to have this kind of subsidies for food, gasoline, cooking gas, rail travel and hospitals for every body.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs