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AIR Spotlight - An Exclusive Interview with Bishow Parajuli

AIR Spotlight is an insightful program featured daily on the All India Radio Newsonair. In this program, many eminent panellists discuss issues of importance which can be quite helpful in IAS exam preparation. In this article, An Exclusive Interview with Bishow Parajuli.


  1. Bishow Parajuli, the World Food Programme Representative and Country Director to India
  2. Dr. Atul Kumar Kulkarni, AIR Correspondent


This episode features an interview with Bishow Parajuli about the World Food Programme.

India’s aid to Afghanistan

  • India has offered to supply 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan.
  • The supplies are to be delivered to Afghanistan on a land route via Pakistan.
  • The World Food Program (WFP) has helped complete the negotiations with India and Afghanistan.
  • The move is said to be significant considering the situation in Afghanistan, which is facing a severe food crisis.
  • The WFP has lauded India’s aid and said that this opens doors for many future humanitarian aid efforts.

World Food Program (WFP) 

  • The World Food Programme is the food-assistance branch of the United Nations that was founded in 1961, is headquartered in Rome.
  • WFP  is the world’s largest humanitarian organization focused on hunger and food security, and the largest provider of school meals.

To read more about – World Food Program

The role of World Food Program

  • India will be sending its first batch of 10,000 metric tonnes of wheat that will reach the Kandahar province.
  • WFP with its stationed logistical powers in Afghanistan will collect the aid and distribute it to the rest of the country.
  • WFP will play a crucial role in making sure that the aid will be reached to those in dire need.

Food insecurity in the world

  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the people facing food insecurity and hunger have doubled from 130 million to 270 million.
  • There are about 800 million people who face food shortages.
  • Climate change, war and conflicts, price rise, and job losses are said to be other key reasons for the rising levels of hunger and food insecurity globally.

Current situation in Afghanistan

  • WFP requires about US$2.6 billion to increase its capacity to feed about 8.7 million starving Afghans.
  • Afghanistan due to the pandemic, economic collapse, and the impacts of years of conflict is experiencing a severe food crisis.
  • Around 24 million people are experiencing acute food insecurity. 
  • Over 97% of the population could fall below the poverty line.

Why did India partner with WFP?

  • WFP while distributing aid follows humanitarian principles of,
    • Delivering aid to the needy
    • Non-discrimination
    • Non-interference
    • Ensuring full accessibility
  • WFP has a proven and trusted credibility across the world as it maintains full transparency and accountability in the distribution of aid.
  • Further WFP has a wide network of staff, civil society organisations as its partners and logistic capabilities which help in delivering aid.

Evolution of the agreement

  • India offered humanitarian aid to the Taliban government in October 2021.
  • The delivery was mainly delayed due to,
    • The surge in the number of coronavirus cases triggered a third wave of the pandemic.
    • Delays in negotiating the transit deal with Pakistan as it had shut down all trade from India after India’s decisions on Article 370.
  • India later signed a partnership agreement with WFP for distribution of aid.

Collaboration of India with WFP

  • WFP has been working in India since 1963, with work transitioning from food distribution to technical assistance since the country achieved self-sufficiency in cereal production.
  • India has set an example to the world in terms of maintaining food security during the pandemic through various schemes along with older schemes such as Mid-day meals, Public distribution system and Integrated child development program.
  • India has partnered with WFP to supply aid to countries like Yemen and Afghanistan, in line with its motto of “Vasudeva Kutumbakam” and “Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah”.

The potential of India-WFP collaboration

  • The partnership of WFP and India in terms of South-South cooperation has a huge potential in the Indian neighbourhood and SAARC region.
  • India’s transformation in improving food and nutrition security, food safety net programmes, agricultural promotions provide huge opportunities for the collaboration.
  • Despite the various measures of the country, the malnutrition levels are high in India. 
  • Also, India is ranked 101 out of 117 nations in the Global Hunger Index 2021.
  • This highlights the need and significance of the partnership with WFP.

Millet production in India

  • The year 2022-23 was recently declared as the International Year of Millets.
  • Millets, often called “superfood”, contain high levels of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients compared to cereals.
  • Millets are also more adaptable to climate change.
  • WFP has done a study about the best practices of millet production, promotion and policies in Odisha and has signed an agreement with the NITI Aayog for its promotion.
  • WFP is involved in the promotion of the production of Millets in Odisha and Rajasthan.

Read more Gist of AIR Spotlight here.

AIR Spotlight – An Exclusive Interview with Bishow Parajuli:- Download PDF Here

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