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India Introduces Amended Food Security Bill To Lower House Of Parliament

“India’s government Thursday introduced an amended food security bill in the lower house of Parliament that would give around 70 percent of the population the right to cheap food grain, a government statement said,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “The ambitious but long-delayed bill will now be debated on by lawmakers in Parliament before a vote,” the news service writes, adding, “The proposed law is expected to be the centerpiece of the Congress party-led ruling coalition’s poll campaign for the general elections scheduled in early 2014.”

“The proposed law aims to supply huge quantities of grain at extremely low prices, after procuring it from farmers at high prices. Food subsidies currently account for more than 40 percent of India’s total subsidy costs,” according to the Wall Street Journal. “Critics say the program may put an unbearable financial strain on the government’s already bloated fiscal deficit,” and they “say large quantities of the food grain meant to be given under the proposed law face the risk of diversion under the program, as it would be implemented through a notoriously corrupt and leaky public-distribution system,” the news service continues (Mukherji, 5/2).