Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Landmark law to slash food costs for India's poor
New legislation aims to benefit 800 million people
- Swati Deb, New Delhi
- August 27, 2013
India’s Lower House has passed a bill to dramatically lower the price of staple foods for around 800 million poor people across the country.
The Food Security Bill, which was passed on Monday but still needs Upper House approval, will provide beneficiaries with 5kg of subsidized grain every month.
Rice will cost three rupees per kg, with wheat at two rupees and millet at one rupee. Currently, the cheapest rice sells at 30 rupees on the open market, rising to 100 rupees for the best quality grains. Wheat sells at around 20 rupees.
The nationwide scheme is expected to cost 1.3 trillion rupees (US$ 23.9 billion) a year, which some critics say is unaffordable. Others have labeled the scheme a ‘vote catcher’ for the ruling Congress Party-led coalition, with a general election due before May 2014.
But the Congress Party has called the legislation a landmark measure in the fight against poverty. In a rare speech to parliament on Monday, party president Sonia Gandhi projected it as a pro-poor project worthy of unanimous support from all parties as it aims to cater to two-thirds of the population.
"We have the opportunity to provide food to everyone, especially weaker sections that have not benefited from India's economic prosperity," she said.
Senior parliamentarian and BJP leader Murali Manohar Joshi, who spoke out against the bill in parliament, told ucanews.com that its provisions are inadequate.
“A government survey has said the minimum requirement of grains for a person per month is about 10kg but the government provision in the bill is only for five. They are making a mockery,” he said.
Financial analysts have expressed concern over the added burden on a government already struggling to contain its budget deficit, exacerbated by the recent drastic depreciation of the Indian currency in global markets.
Criticism has also come from activists campaigning on behalf of farmers. One of them, Ajay Jhakar, says the government should be more active in finding ways to increase production and improve distribution of grains.
“The bill is only a short term measure and lacks vision,” he said to ucanews.com. “The real challenges to food security are low crop productivity, lack of irrigation facilities and the slow adoption of mechanized farming."
Food Minister K V Thomas admitted there are challenges ahead. “We will need to improve the public distribution system,” he said. “We have made a new beginning and as we go on implementing the new law, we will plug these loopholes.”