Centre for Food Policy Research
  1. PhD students
Food Policy

Karl-Axel Lindgren

Karl AxelPhD Work

A food policy analysis of the Indian National Food Security Act, and its potential impact on the urban poor.


  • 2014-present: PhD Candidate, Centre for Food Policy (City, University of London)
  • 2012-2013: MSc Food Policy (City University London)
  • 2009-2012: BA Sociology (University of York)

The study

India has had a long history of hunger. Since the development of the agro-industrial food system and the recent population explosion, reducing hunger and malnutrition has been top of the global agenda, formulated through increasing agricultural production, ease of economic access, stability and food utilization. In India specifically, formulations of food security have taken a right to food approach, which has long been promoted on the global level as a solution to empower citizens and ensure government obligation, with the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation considering "the protection of human rights through constitutions” as “the strongest form of legal protection". The literature has traditionally approached food security from an agricultural production or development studies perspective.

The research will provide an analytical lens for the study of the Indian government’s policy processes from a food policy perspective and will critically review the existing literature on Indian food security, urban food insecurity and the international food security space. The aim is to develop an understanding of policy and governance responses to food insecurity, and to develop appropriate policy recommendations towards the alleviation of malnutrition.

Urban food security is in particular focus due to predominant literature and attention of food security being on the rural, with the plight of the urban poor often overlooked, downplayed, and/or poorly understood. The methodological concerns in measuring the urban poor, and the absolute dependency on income for urban dwellers, further highlights the necessity for policy analysis concerning the urban marginalised, including migrant workers, the homeless, the destitute, and other vulnerable groups. Will the right to food approach, and the National Food Security Act, be able to give the urban poor a path out of continued hunger? Will it enable a platform to voice their issues, or will alternative policy processes be theoretically more appropriate?

Why it matters for Food Policy

India will have the largest population in the world in the next two decades following current trends, and has the highest amount of hungry and malnourished in the world, as well as half of all malnourished children and high rates of micro-nutrient deficiencies. Half of India’s population is estimated to be urban in the next two decades. This highlights the importance of studying the policy processes of the world’s largest democracy, and the potential policy implications on malnutrition indicators. Developing countries will look towards India and its right to food approach to learn from, and if it is the best approach for their own country.

Furthermore, the way different actors in the Indian policy space understand urban food security and environmental sustainability, and how this shapes policy responses, is vital in how and if India develops into a super-power and ‘high-income’ nation.

Research interests

Food security and developing countries, the political economy of food, ecological public health and the relationship of food with energy and the environment.