"Landless and illiterate, drowned by debt, Mr. Bhuria and his ailing children have staggered into the hospital ward after falling through India’s social safety net. They should receive subsidized government food and cooking fuel. They do not. The older children should be enrolled in school and receiving a free daily lunch. They are not. And they are hardly alone: India’s eight poorest states have more people in poverty — an estimated 421 million — than Africa’s 26 poorest nations, one study recently reported.
...Should the country begin to unshackle the poor from the inefficient, decades-old government food distribution system and try something radical, like simply giving out food coupons, or cash?
Sonia Gandhi, is pushing to create a constitutional right to food and expand the existing entitlement so that every Indian family would qualify for a monthly 77-pound bag of grain, sugar and kerosene."
. I'm often asked: what can developing countries do to kickstart 21st century economies?
The answer is: their challenge is the same as developed countries: getting serious about institutional innovation.
Consider a very simple point. There's enough food in the world to feed the world. But not everyone gets fed. Yesterday's institutions don't allocate it efficiently. Corrupt bureaucrats certainly play their role. But so do speculators, "investors", and, well, you. So the challenge is designing better institutions.
The real opportunity for developing countries lies here. While the developed world, hidebound by inertia, rendered sclerotic by fatcats smacking their lips at every trough, languishes, failing to meet the challenge of institutional innovation--smarter nations can take a great leap into the future.
The time is now. And it always has been now.