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

    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: 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.
    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