Will India Look Beyond Subsidies to Ensure Food Security?

Will India Look Beyond Subsidies to Ensure Food Security?
School children receive a free midday meal at a government school, Jammu, India, Aug. 22, 2013 (AP photo by Channi Anand).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on social welfare policies in various countries around the world.

Food subsidies have long been a critical component of the social safety net in India. In 2017-2018, such subsidies will cost the government more than $20 billion. While some policymakers and experts have pushed for alternatives in promoting food security, proposed changes are highly contentious politically. In an email interview, Kavery Ganguly, an independent consultant on agriculture policy based in Mumbai, explains what the current system does well, where it could be improved and the obstacles to reform.

WPR: How much does India spend on food subsidies, what are the official justifications for the subsidy system, and how has it evolved in recent years?

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