Highlights of India’s food security bill
India’s cabinet on Wednesday issued an executive order to start a 1.3 trillion rupee ($22 billion) welfare programme that would bring cheap food to hundreds of millions of poor people throughout the country.
Despite the order, both houses of parliament must vote on the programme when they meet for the Monsoon session later this month.
The programme, which would provide highly subsidized food to about two-thirds of India’s population, is seen by many as a key initiative of the ruling Congress party, and one that can help them win votes in the 2014 general elections.
Here’s some background on the bill from a June 13 Reuters article:
The programme aims to provide subsidized wheat and rice to 70 percent of India’s population. When implemented, the scheme will massively broaden an existing programme of providing cheap food to 218 million people.
Critics say beneficiaries do not stand to gain as about 40 percent of rice and wheat earmarked for the poor gets siphoned off due to corruption. An inefficient distribution channel also leads to waste.
Despite being one of the biggest producers of food supplies, India is home to 25 percent of the world’s hungry poor, according to a U.N. agency.
Here are some of the highlights of this bill:
- Up to three-quarters of people in the rural areas and up to half of the urban population would get five kilograms of grains per month at subsidized prices (3 rupees per kilo for rice, 2 rupees per kilo for wheat and 1 rupee per kilo for coarse grains).
- The poorest households would continue to receive 35 kilograms of grains per month under the “Antyodaya Anna Yojana” at subsidized prices.
- Pregnant women and lactating mothers would receive a maternity benefit of at least 6,000 rupees.
- Children aged six months to 14 years would get take-home ration or hot cooked food.
- The central government also would provide money to states and union territories if it runs low on grain.
- The central government also would provide “assistance” towards the cost of intra-state transportation, handling of grains.
- In a bid to give women more authority in running their households, the oldest adult woman in each house would be considered the head of that household for issue of ration card.
(Source: PIB website, read complete text here)