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For India’s Hungry To Benefit From Food Security Bill, Government Must Approach Issue With ‘Genuine Seriousness’

Writing in The Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog,” economist Jayati Ghosh, the executive secretary of International Development Economics Associates (Ideas), examines the issue of food security in India, highlighting a national food bill currently up for debate in the country’s parliament. In its current form, the “final bill (.pdf) is a pale shadow — some would say a mockery — of the original intention,” she states, noting, “It does not provide universal access, but instead restricts the responsibility of the government to provide subsidized food grain to households on the basis of defined eligibility criteria, estimated to account for two-thirds of the population.” She continues, “The Congress party has been toying with the idea of an ordinance that would force the bill into law while parliament is in recess, but its allies have apparently been persuaded to call a special session of parliament to discuss this,” adding, “But if India’s hungry millions are really to benefit from such legislation, the government needs to approach this matter with genuine seriousness, not as a cynical ploy to gain electoral mileage” (6/24).