India's food security in a bill

Food aid for victims of Cyclone Aila, which hit parts of India in May 2009. Photo by: William Lee-Wright / CC BY-NC-SA

Several food security advocates have hailed a bill introduced in India last year that, if passed, would provide food for 70 percent of Indian households.

The National Food Security Bill is up for discussion at a high-level meeting Wednesday (July 18). It is the product of more than 11 years of litigation, protests, and media and public scrutiny, according to Oxfam India campaigns manager Biraj Swain in an opinion piece for the Guardian.

The bill “marks a great step forward” on India’s food security, Swain said. And while food advocates are aware the bill alone “won’t fix India’s food system,” it could serve as an example other countries can follow, Institute of Development Studies Director Lawrence Haddad said, as quoted by Hindustan Times.

The bill aims to expand India’s food subsidy scheme, which at present only covers some 180 million of the poorest people in India, Reuters reports. Beneficiaries, according to a September draft of the bill, are divided into two categories: general and priority households. Some find this division problematic.

The meeting Wednesday will seek a revised version of the bill, which Swain said has already suffered several omissions. A framework that covers the same percentage of the population but without the classification is likely to be discussed at the meeting, The Times of India reports.

It remains to be seen how this bill would affect international food aid in India, or how it will help to combat hunger in the world’s second most populated country.

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About the author

  • Ravelo jennylei

    Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.