INDIA: Ruling government considers a right to food
Sonia Gandhi, president of India’s ruling Congress Party is pushing to create a constitutional right to food. Her proposal would expand the existing entitlement to make every Indian family eligible for a monthly allotment including sugar, kerosene, and a 77-pound bag of grain. In this form, the proposal would essentially be a small in-kind basic income, similar to the U.S. food stamp program, but more universal. Some observers are even discussing dispensing with the food coupons and simply distributing cash.
The proposal is a response to corruption and inefficiency in India’s current poverty policy, which has left hundreds of millions of people in poverty and even undernourishment. Jim Yardley, of the New York Times writes that the governing Indian National Congress Party is engaged in “an ideological debate over a question that once would have been unthinkable in India: Should the country begin to unshackle the poor from the inefficient, decades-old government food distribution system and try something radical, like simply giving out food coupons, or cash?”
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