08/27/2013, 00.00
INDIA

India’s Parliament approves controversial Food Security Bill

The bill provides for the distribution of rice, cereals and flour at controlled prices to 800 million poor. After a day of consultations, the Lokh Sabha (lower house) votes in favor. Now it awaits ratification in Rajha Sabha (Upper House). Criticism from the opposition.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - After delays and criticism, the Indian Parliament has approved the Food Security Bill, a decree that provides for the distribution of low-cost food to 800 million poor. At the end of a full day of consultations, last night the Lok Sabha (Lower House or "House of the People") ratified the decree proposed by Congress (the ruling party). In the coming weeks it's up to the Rajya Sabha (Upper House or "Council of States") to ratify the law.

The decree imposes a month's supply of 5 kg of rice, wheat and grain per person at tiered prices of - respectively - 3, 2 and 1 rupees per kilo. Supporters of the Food Security Bill argue that it is a big step towards the elimination of hunger and malnutrition, which affects two-thirds of India's population (800 million people out of 1.2 billion). For critics it is dangerous for national finances. The measure will cost 1.3 million rupees a year (23.9 billion dollars).

The government had already launched the food distribution program last week, through an executive order, but parliamentary ratification was necessary to make it permanent.

Significantly, yesterday Sonia Gandhi - President of the Congress - spoke to the Lok Sabha to support the Food Security Bill, of which she was one of the promoters. She hadn't addressed parliament in over eight years. "Some people - she said - ask us if we have the resources to implement such a program. I would tell them that we have to find the resources. The point is not whether we can do it. We have to do it."

 

Printable version
CLOSE X
See also
New Delhi says yes to low-cost food for 800 million people
20/08/2013
Two years after its adoption, India’s anti-hunger law still "unconvincing"
28/01/2016 20:35
Colombo asked for new economic policy against hunger
17/10/2008
East Timorese go hungry for at least five months of the year
16/10/2008
Food is a right Christian entrepreneur says, but warns laws must protect against corruption
04/07/2013