The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

India aims to ease poverty, malnutrition by subsidizing wheat, rice for 800 million people

  • Print

NEW DELHI - India plans to subsidize wheat, rice and cereals for some 800 million people under a $20 billion scheme to cut malnutrition and ease poverty.

The Food Security Bill, sent this week by India's parliament to the president for approval, guarantees citizens a legal right to food.

India has some of the world's worst poverty and malnutrition with two-thirds of its 1.2 billion people poor and half of the country's children malnourished.

Food Minister K.V. Thomas called the bill a first step toward improving food distribution in a country where poor transportation and lack of refrigeration mean up to 40 per cent of all grains and produce rot before they reach the market.

The new scheme allows those who qualify to buy 5 kilograms of rice a month for 3 rupees (4.5 cents) a kilogram. Wheat will cost 2 rupees a kilogram, and for cereals the cost is 1 rupee.

Pregnant women and new mothers will also receive at least 6,000 rupees ($90) in aid. In a deviation from India's patriarchal traditions, the scheme designates the eldest woman in each home as the head of the household, hoping to prevent rations from ending up on the black market.

The poorest families among the poor, already receiving subsidized rates for up to 35 kilograms of grains a month, will continue to receive those benefits.

The federal government has said it would cover most of the program's annual $20 billion cost but it will be up to India's states to decide who will qualify.

The legislation, long promised by the governing Congress Party, was passed by India's upper house of parliament on Monday, after being passed last week in the lower house.

Opposition parliamentarians criticized the bill as not ambitious enough to improve nutrition, and accused the government of courting votes in next year's elections by repackaging smaller food schemes already in effect.

India has offered free midday school meals since the 1960s in an effort to persuade poor parents to send their kids to school. That program now reaches some 120 million children. The country gives a similar promise of a hot, cooked meal to pregnant women and new mothers — a promise the new bill extends to children between 6 and 14 years old.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Preview: Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A young gosling prepares to eat dandelions on King Edward St Thursday morning-See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge- Day 17- bonus - May 24, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Weather standup. Sundog. Refraction of light through ice crystals which caused both the sun dog and and fog along McPhillips Road early Wednesday morning. 071205.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think e-cigarettes should be banned by the school division?

View Results

Ads by Google