A Bad Diet

Chiara Goia for TIME

Many East Asian nations dramatically reduced poverty not through government handouts but by liberating the private sector and creating jobs.

Could any mission be nobler? Sonia Gandhi, the chief of India's ruling Congress Party, says she wants to "wipe out hunger and malnutrition all over the country." That has resulted in the National Food Security Act, which intends to ensure a minimum level of nutrition for all needy Indians through government-subsidized food. When fully implemented, it will be one of the world's biggest welfare programs.

It will also be a huge mistake. How can more food for the poor be a bad thing? After all, India is home to 1 in 3...