India Moving Forward With National Food Security Law

“India has decided to introduce one of the most ambitious food aid programs ever attempted, adding the right to food to others enshrined in Indian law such as free speech and equality of all citizens,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “The government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh … pushed through the National Food Security Law by executive order on Wednesday while Parliament was in recess,” the newspaper adds, noting the Indian president needs to approve the executive order and “Parliament, which is due to come back into session at the end of July or early August, needs to pass the bill by a simple majority for it to become law” (Mukherji/Roy, 7/4). Under the National Food Security Bill, “India will spend an estimated $4 billion a year on supplying about 70 percent of its population with cheap grain,” according to another Wall Street Journal article (Mukherji, 7/3). The bill “seeks to cover two-thirds of the country’s population and provide 5kg of subsidized food grain per person per month” and “also proposes free meals and maternity benefits for pregnant women, lactating mothers, children between the ages of six months and 14 years, and malnourished children and destitute and homeless people,” BBC News notes (Biswas, 7/3). However, “[q]uestions … remain about how this large and complex program — the most ambitious food aid program ever attempted — will be implemented, and when the roll-out will begin,” the Wall Street Journal’s “India Real Time” blog writes (Mandhana, 7/4).