Nearly 70 percent of India’s population lives on less than $2 (around 120 rupees) a day, according to World Bank data. The country, the world’s second-largest producer of wheat and rice after China, is also home to a quarter of the world’s hungry.
Helping the poor has always been on the ruling government’s agenda since independence. India, which currently spends 900 billion rupees on giving the poor access to cheap food, hopes to increase it to 1.3 trillion rupees ($22 billion) and widen its scope with an ambitious food security programme launched this month.
The problem is many of the intended beneficiaries don’t realize they’re missing out on existing schemes.
In 2005, a study found that families living below the poverty line in India did not receive more than half of the grains earmarked for the poor due to identification errors and unethical practices. In 2011, the economic survey said leakages in the system are “far too high”.
While the new food security bill aims to bring cheaper food to millions more, there are various welfare schemes which already offer subsidized food to Indians. But one such scheme is at the centre of a storm after 23 children died after having their mid-day meal at a Bihar school.