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Food policy in India: the importance of electoral politics in policy implementation

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  • Jos Mooij

    (Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, The Netherlands)

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    Abstract

    This article discusses, compares and contrasts the politics of food policy implementation in two Indian States: Karnataka in South India and Bihar in North India. Both states are covered by the Public Distribution System (PDS), a major intervention in the Indian food economy intended to reduce food insecurity and improve welfare. As in most South Indian States, the PDS in Karnataka works reasonably well. Most poor people receive some subsidized foodgrains every month. Karnataka politicians see the scheme as important and use it to enhance their popularity and attract votes. By contrast, the impact of the PDS on the poor in Bihar is negligible. The foodgrains are coming every month, but more than 80 per cent is diverted to the open market. This raises the question as to why the populist politicians in Bihar are not making use of the PDS in the same way as their colleagues in Karnataka. Based on fieldwork in these two States, the article explores a number of explanations. It concludes that politicians in Bihar take a definite interest in the PDS, but as a result of the different features of the overall political processes in these two States, this leads to a different type of influence for them as well as different outcomes for the beneficiaries. Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Journal of International Development.

    Volume (Year): 11 (1999)
    Issue (Month): 4 ()
    Pages: 625-636

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    Handle: RePEc:wly:jintdv:v:11:y:1999:i:4:p:625-636

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    Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/5102/home

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    1. Ahluwalia, Deepak, 1993. "Public distribution of food in India : Coverage, targeting and leakages," Food Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 33-54, February.
    2. Radhakrishna, R. & Subbarao, K., 1997. "India's Public Distribution System. A National and International Perspective," World Bank - Discussion Papers, World Bank 380, World Bank.
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