'India's Food Bill can act as a benchmark'

India’s proposed National Food Security Bill can become a benchmark for many countries to follow, said UK-based Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and Oxfam India at a conference in Delhi on Tuesday.

The Bill was introduced in Parliament in December 2011 and was referred to a standing committee. 

Legal entitlement

It aims to provide legal entitlement of subsidised foodgrains to the poor, and is likely to cover nearly 70 per cent of Indian households — the highest proportion of households covered by such a programme anywhere in the world. 

Oxfam India and IDS will bring out a Food Justice bulletin after the two-day conference, bringing together views of some of India’s leading practitioners and academic on the issue. 

It will address key questions, including protecting the rights of marginalised people, empowering women and assessing government commitments to reducing hunger. 

Food price rise

“There are plenty of stresses and strains that can erode gains. Food price rise, price volatility and climate change are the ones that need to be addressed immediately,” said IDS director Lawrence Haddad.

Oxfam India CEO Nisha Agrawal spoke on the ‘Grow’ campaign by Oxfam. “Sixty years after independence, unfortunately, hunger and malnutrition remain major issues in India. 

About 44 per cent children under five are underweight and 48 per cent are stunted. India is home to 42 per cent of the world’s underweight children and 31 per cent of its stunted children,” she said.

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