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

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine 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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid