Indian parliament OKs $20B grain plan for poor
NEW DELHI — India's lower house of parliament approved a plan worth nearly $20 billion on Monday to provide cheap grain to the poor, a key part of the ruling Congress party's strategy to win re-election.
Under the plan, the government will sell subsidized wheat and rice to 67 percent of its population of 1.2 billion. India is home to a quarter of the world's hungry poor, according to United Nations data, despite being one of the biggest food producers.
The vote broke a long stalemate in parliament, potentially clearing the way for several reforms aimed at spurring the flagging economy which the government hopes to pass in an extended session that ends on Sept. 6.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's coalition government last month resorted to an executive order to implement the program, which his Congress party hopes will help it win a third consecutive term in power. The next election is scheduled by May.
The Rajya Sabha upper house must now approve the decree before it becomes law.
The main opposition party says the welfare scheme, which expands the cheap food program covering 218 million people, is still too narrow to tackle widespread malnutrition among India's millions of poor.
Lawmakers passed the bill after nearly nine hours of debate and the inclusion of amendments that government sources say could lead to an additional requirement of about 3 million tons of grain.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.