India Passes Law That Guarantee Citizens Legal Right to Food
â€śWe have a chance to create history with this bill. The question is not whether we can do it or not. We have to do it.â€ť
~Sonia Gandhi, President of the ruling Congress Party
Big news in India. Indiaâ€™s parliament has passed a law that will ensure every Indian citizen has the right to food and the President is expected to sign it posthaste. This will affect over 800 million people out of just over 1.2 billion Indians and itâ€™s only going to cost $20 billion to make it a reality. Normally â€“ $20 billion is a lot of money; however â€“ poverty in India is rampant. In fact â€“ itâ€™s so bad that the World Bank estimates India maintains â€śone-third of the worldâ€™s poorâ€ť with 37% of Indians (410 million people) falling below the international poverty line (source).
The most recent data shows that over 829 million people or over 80% of Indians lived on less than $2 a day (source). Itâ€™s hard to comprehend how bad poverty in India is; the BBC wrote about India having â€śmore poorâ€ť in India than in Africa (source). Itâ€™s an epidemic. In short â€“ India has tremendous potential for big things in the future; however â€“ their caste system and the lack of social mobility has made addressing the core issues that lead to a happy populace nearly impossible to fix. But â€“ this new law guaranteeing a legal right to food is going to change the lives of millions and will be the starting point of making India an economic juggernaut comparable to potentially any other in the world.
The LA Times has more HERE:
The National Food Security Bill gives two-thirds of Indiaâ€™s population the right to buy 12 pounds of rice, wheat, millet or other cereals each month at no more than 3 cents per pound. It also provides food free to pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under 6 years old.
The government put the price tag of supplying about 62 million tons annually at $18 billion, which would make it one of the worldâ€™s largest such programs. A Ministry of Agriculture study estimated the actual cost could be at least 30% higher.
Sonia Gandhi, president of the ruling Congress Party, pushed hard to get the bill passed as her party prepares to run in general elections early next year on a legacy of policy drift, corruption scandals and economic setbacks.
And Forbes hates it calling it â€śthe worldâ€™s largest welfare schemeâ€ť (source). Because making sure people donâ€™t die of malnutrition is a bad thing at Forbes; conservatives in the US are against feeding the poor via the food stamp program. Nothing changed on that front. But it is precisely this mindset of socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor that has made it impossible for poor children to ever have the same opportunities in life. At a young age â€“ children born into poor families start working instead of going to school. This immediate desperation creates a self-sustaining cycle that keeps them mired in poverty.
PBS has an excellent video on the problem of child labor in India HERE. In fact â€“ an Indian activist says that there are currently over 50 million Indian children working full time right now.