India parliament passes flagship food-for-poor scheme

The Food Security Bill is seen as vote-winner by the ruling Congress party ahead of national elections next year.


Afp August 26, 2013
Free lunches are offered to some 120 million schoolchildren throughout India in what is the world’s largest school feeding programme. PHOTO: AFP

INDIA: India's parliament on Monday passed a flagship 18-billion-dollar programme to provide subsidised food to the poor that is intended to "wipe out" endemic hunger and malnutrition in the aspiring superpower.

The Food Security Bill, a key scheme seen as vote-winner by the ruling Congress party ahead of national elections next year, was adopted in the lower house.

Last month, 23 children aged four to 12 died died in poverty-stricken Bihar state after a lunch of lentils, potatoes and rice that was laced with a lethal pesticide.

Educators see the midday meal scheme as a way to increase school attendance, in a country where almost half of all young children are undernourished.

But children often suffer from food poisoning due to poor hygiene in kitchens and sometimes sub-standard food.

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