In India, 40% of people earn less than 2 dollars a day. If we normalize it using purchase power parity (PPP), then it would be less than 10 dollars a day in the USA. So, the current center-left Congress Party ruled government started a law called Food Security Bill, which is basically a food stamps act. The government plans to provide free or subsidized food to almost 67% of population of the country. India is not an importer of food as it produces enough food due to its tropical weather, good quality agricultural land, and rivers. Still, the government will spend more than 21 billion dollars in a year to run this Food Stamps program. This is the largest such program in the world. The president of India signed this ordinance, which has to be ratified by the parliament in next 6 months.
The law says that the eldest woman in the household will be the only official recipient of the food for the family. If a poor man wants food, then the eldest female member of his family has to show her biometric- identity card called “Aadhar card” and receive the food on his behalf. She will decide how the food will be shared in the family. As many poor people in villages still live in join family households, this creates a very dangerous situation for elderly men. For example, if a 30-year old woman is the eldest woman in a joint family household, she can easily deny this benefit to the old father-in-law and starve him, as she is the only recipient of this food. Even her 35-year old husband will have no say in it. This form of elder abuse can extend to the younger woman blackmailing the old man to transfer the farm land or house property into her name. Blackmail by women using law and policy designed for their protection is not unprecedented in Indian culture, with the results hitting extended family and even very young children. Last year, 13000 male farmers committed suicide in India, and poverty is not the only reason.
Patriarchy and Matriarchy coexisted in India for ages. Now, the government has officially declared that the Indian Family has to be headed by a Matriarch. When this law gets implemented through the Government’s public food distribution system, it will define only women as recipients and one will only see women queuing for food. The woman will also have the freedom to sell the food that she receives and no man in her family can question her.
The law will cost the equivalent of 21 billion US dollars to Indian tax payers. Purchase power parity (PPP) conversion varies widely inside India between urban and rural areas due to huge rich and poor gap. Because of the difference in purchasing power, the ultimate gain for poor people will be disproportionately high. Their collective benefit will be the equivalent of more than 100 billion US dollars, based on the rural India PPP conversion factor of 5. All that food and money will go to women, both young and old.
International feminist economists have already defined women as the predominantly poor in the world, notwithstanding the fact that 13000 farmers have committed suicide in India last year or there are more homeless men than women in India. India’s Prime Minister is an Oxford Educated Economist and a feminist ideologue. These feminists do not want the poor men to receive support from government as they have already defined only women as poor. A poor hungry man can’t go to a government public distribution agency and ask for food. He has to get a woman from his family or he has to produce detailed government documentation to prove to the corrupt officials that there is no woman in his family and he is a single old man. The semi-literate helpless poor men will not able to cross this big bureaucratic hurdle. Instead, they will starve and die.
The government claims that this food stamp law will improve the country’s Human Development Index. Of course, it will. This index is created for the United Nations Development Program by two white knight economists from the Indian Subcontinent. This will also improve India’s rank in Global Gender Gap Report by World Economic Forum, which also paints poverty as oppression of women. The life expectancy gap is a major indicator of gender parity in this method of ranking. If 200 million poor elderly Indian men die of hunger much earlier than poor women, then India will celebrate as it gets a better rank in Global Gender Gap report.