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India’s Federal Cabinet Approves Food Security Bill; Parliament To Debate Proposal

“India approved changes to a bill that grants the nation’s poor the right to buy food grains at subsidized rates, meeting a pledge by the ruling Congress party to spread the benefits of growth before elections due next year,” Bloomberg reports (Parija/Mishra, 3/20). “India’s federal cabinet Tuesday cleared [the] ambitious food-security bill that would allow 67 percent of the population access to cheap food grains, but the added financial strain and the pullout of a key ally from the coalition government would pose a big challenge to its implementation, analysts said,” the Wall Street Journal writes, noting the “bill will now be debated by lawmakers in parliament before a vote” (Roy/Mukherji, 3/19). According to BBC News, the bill “proposes to make food a legal right and seeks to provide five kilograms of grain every month to some 800 million poor people,” with rice provided at six cents per kilogram, wheat at four cents, and millet at two cents. The plan “is likely to cost 1.3 trillion rupees ($23.9 billion; £15.8 billion) every year,” the news service notes (3/19).