As the rhythmic thumping of dancing feet reaches a crescendo, the women offer a song to their forest god for a bountiful harvest.
Chottey Lal, 43, a daily wage labourer at a construction site in NOIDA, a township in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, is a beleaguered man. After a gruelling 12-hour daily shift at the dusty location, he and his wife Subha make barely enough to feed a family of seven.
As managing director of the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED), India’s apex agriculture marketing organisation, Sanjeev Chopra is in the thick of planned legislation to cover 800 million Indians under the world’s biggest food subsidy programme.
As India’s Parliament prepares to pass a bill to provide heavily subsidised food to 810 million people, there are misgivings over its implementation through a notoriously corrupt public distribution system (PDS).