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News & Politics News & Politics

India Passes Law That Guarantee Citizens Legal Right to Food

Posted by on Sep. 5, 2013 at 9:54 AM
  • 15 Replies

Indian children

“We 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.”
~Sonia Gandhi, President of the ruling Congress Party

Big news in India.  India’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 it’s only going to cost $20 billion to make it a reality.  Normally – $20 billion is a lot of money; however – poverty in India is rampant.  In fact – it’s so bad that the World Bank estimates India maintains “one-third of the world’s poor” 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).  It’s hard to comprehend how bad poverty in India is; the BBC wrote about India having “more poor” in India than in Africa (source).  It’s an epidemic.  In short – India has tremendous potential for big things in the future; however – 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 – 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 India’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 world’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 “the world’s largest welfare scheme” (source).  Because making sure people don’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 – 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 – an Indian activist says that there are currently over 50 million Indian children working full time right now.


by on Sep. 5, 2013 at 9:54 AM
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Replies (1-10):
gludwig2000
by Gina on Sep. 6, 2013 at 7:38 PM
1 mom liked this

 Good for them, I really hope they can implement it and feed their people. Its a good start, if they can do it.

AdrianneHill
by Bronze Member on Sep. 6, 2013 at 8:14 PM
Ugly proof the market cannot protect the workers or the population in general as their first allegiance will always be profits. hopefully, India can create some kind of safety net that exists beyond begging, missionaries work
SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Sep. 7, 2013 at 2:10 AM
1 mom liked this

Hey, missionary work, aka charity, is still very much needed.

But I was wondering, why just citizens? Why not illegal aliens? India's policy sounds racist to me.

Quoting AdrianneHill:

Ugly proof the market cannot protect the workers or the population in general as their first allegiance will always be profits. hopefully, India can create some kind of safety net that exists beyond begging, missionaries work



AdrianneHill
by Bronze Member on Sep. 7, 2013 at 9:15 AM
because no one wants to go to India for a better life. you think you're funny but you just show how incredibly self absorbed and thoughtless you are. people in India still leave their babies out to die if they can't afford to feed them. people sell their daughters to sexual slavery so they can eat for another month.
this isn't America. it isn't even Mexico. India is a whole different world you can't even fathom


Quoting SallyMJ:

Hey, missionary work, aka charity, is still very much needed.

But I was wondering, why just citizens? Why not illegal aliens? India's policy sounds racist to me.


Quoting AdrianneHill:

Ugly proof the market cannot protect the workers or the population in general as their first allegiance will always be profits. hopefully, India can create some kind of safety net that exists beyond begging, missionaries work




LAHnTAH0812
by Member on Sep. 7, 2013 at 9:18 AM
please tell me that was sarcasm...


Quoting SallyMJ:

Hey, missionary work, aka charity, is still very much needed.

But I was wondering, why just citizens? Why not illegal aliens? India's policy sounds racist to me.


Quoting AdrianneHill:

Ugly proof the market cannot protect the workers or the population in general as their first allegiance will always be profits. hopefully, India can create some kind of safety net that exists beyond begging, missionaries work





SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Sep. 7, 2013 at 12:59 PM
2 moms liked this

No, I don't think I'm funny at all.

I'm sadly ironic.

The facts are a whole different world you can't even fathom.


Quoting AdrianneHill:

because no one wants to go to India for a better life. you think you're funny but you just show how incredibly self absorbed and thoughtless you are. people in India still leave their babies out to die if they can't afford to feed them. people sell their daughters to sexual slavery so they can eat for another month.
this isn't America. it isn't even Mexico. India is a whole different world you can't even fathom


Quoting SallyMJ:

Hey, missionary work, aka charity, is still very much needed.

But I was wondering, why just citizens? Why not illegal aliens? India's policy sounds racist to me.


Quoting AdrianneHill:

Ugly proof the market cannot protect the workers or the population in general as their first allegiance will always be profits. hopefully, India can create some kind of safety net that exists beyond begging, missionaries work






SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Sep. 7, 2013 at 1:00 PM
1 mom liked this

That was sarcasm.

But actually it was satire. :)


Quoting LAHnTAH0812:

please tell me that was sarcasm...


Quoting SallyMJ:

Hey, missionary work, aka charity, is still very much needed.

But I was wondering, why just citizens? Why not illegal aliens? India's policy sounds racist to me.


Quoting AdrianneHill:

Ugly proof the market cannot protect the workers or the population in general as their first allegiance will always be profits. hopefully, India can create some kind of safety net that exists beyond begging, missionaries work







PrimmednPunked
by Silver Member on Sep. 7, 2013 at 1:02 PM

This is great.  I agree with them, food is something everyone should have regardless if they can afford it or not.  I am talking the basics that are healthy and will sustain life.  Not lobster and steaks.

gludwig2000
by Gina on Sep. 8, 2013 at 5:50 PM
So true! My boss is from India, and I spoke to concerning this law, and he doesn't believe anything will ever come from it, that the corruption in the Indian government will never care about the poverty most of their people live in.
Quoting AdrianneHill:

because no one wants to go to India for a better life. you think you're funny but you just show how incredibly self absorbed and thoughtless you are. people in India still leave their babies out to die if they can't afford to feed them. people sell their daughters to sexual slavery so they can eat for another month.
this isn't America. it isn't even Mexico. India is a whole different world you can't even fathom


Quoting SallyMJ:

Hey, missionary work, aka charity, is still very much needed.

But I was wondering, why just citizens? Why not illegal aliens? India's policy sounds racist to me.


Quoting AdrianneHill:

Ugly proof the market cannot protect the workers or the population in general as their first allegiance will always be profits. hopefully, India can create some kind of safety net that exists beyond begging, missionaries work




lancet98
by Bronze Member on Sep. 8, 2013 at 9:01 PM

It's very difficult to get people to understand this, but there really are many Indias.   The article reads like everyone is grindingly poor and starving.

That isn't true.   India has the biggest (by numbers) middle class of any country in the world.   There are a lot of upper class and ultra rich people, too.

They live in a very different world from the poor people, though.

And there are a lot of different levels of poor, too.   'Working class' isn't like working class in the US.   It's very, very basic.  

The Scheduled Classes - people who are the poorest of the poor - really have problems.   How many are there?   That's an interesting question.   I get the feeling it's still about 40 or even 50% of the people in India. 

They live in the slums(either rural ones or urban ones) - the places that consist of lots of of little cobbled together shacks(scraps of metal, wood or reeds), no plumbing, no toilets, no electricity, it's just very basic.   The slums are on the worst land that tends to flood, too.  That's a big problem.

If the poor do get a job, it's going to usually be something pretty hard.   At the very bottom - cleaning up human waste, gathering leaves, breaking rocks for road repairs, things like that.  Working in the fields.   There are jobs that are a few steps up from that, too.

As for moving up to a better job, a better life, a better home, it is possible, but it is very, very difficult and not many people are able to do it or even really envision themselves doing that.   It's hard to 'move up' without some basic schooling, reading, writing - many poor people can read a LITTLE but aren't really functionally literate.

Now, India 'grows enough food to feed its people'.   They have done so, for quite a long time.  Improved farming productivity - largely through improved seed - has made a big change there.

During WW 2 when the British Raj was busy fighting, literally millions of people in India died of starvation.   I think there were 3 million bodies in the streets of Kolkatta at one point.   When India got independence, food was a huge priority.  

But that doesn't mean all the problems are solved.   The food doesn't always get to the people -for lots of reasons.   There's corruption, stealing, and just the problem of storing huge amounts of grain in a tropical climate where there is a lot of flooding.   Too, when people are moving around constantly looking for work it's hard for them to get that food.

When I was there 20 years ago, people would get a big metal drum of rice or wheat and could get more when it ran out.  

But again, that's usually ALL they got.   It wasn't really a complete diet.   And not everyone seemed to be able to get that bulk grain or rice back then.   There's a kind of unwieldy beurocracy and that doesn't always make it easy to apply for what they are supposed to be getting.

A lot of people, for various reasons, didn't ask for the food, or the health care.  Not because they were 'proud' or because they 'wanted to do it themselves' (that can be well nigh impossible), but because they just were afraid to go and apply.  

There is among a lot of people the idea that you're just supposed to accept what your lot in life is without complaint.   Trying to change that is viewed kind of in the way the Amish view such things  - as a criticism or God, as a 'pride' (a real dirty word in the Amish way of things).

Part of why they don't is that there is a lot of work that is 'under the table'.   And there is a lot of corruption, local organized crime in some businesses, more so in big urban areas.   So some people are afraid to apply for the food or health care because they are afraid they'll get into trouble for say, getting work occasionally in an illegal factory.

It's often the women who really change things.   They often very quietly start a little business of their own and try to better things for their kids, but even the fathers are starting to get really into that - even for their girl children.   

I don't really know what this law changes, to be honest.   Maybe it's some kind of political thing.

People have been able to get food (even tho the system definitely is not perfect and some people are still incredibly poor, especially the Scheduled Groups - tribal people, etc), and people have been finding ways to break out of the caste system (the caste system was made illegal a VERY long time ago, but it lives on informally).

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