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Hungry Children in a Self Sufficient Country.

by theo (writer), , October 24, 2011

Of all the things that India is famous for, food will most probably be among the top five. But it's a sad irony that millions of children still go to bed hungry.

Of all the things that India is famous for, food will most probably be among the top five. It is amazing to see that every major city, in almost every country across the globe, has a buffet of Indian restaurants serving the best of Indian cuisine. Food is one of the major ingredients used in advertisement campaigns to lure tourists to India. And festivities in India are as much about food as they are about ceremonies.

The Advertisement Council of India in a report says that the Food and Beverages industry in India is worth $300 billion. And in terms of production, India is the third largest producer of food grains in the world (230 tonnes per year).

But it is rather a painful irony that, there are actually millions of children in India who still go to bed Hungry, their families unable to afford the simple, humble five rotis and sabji.

The 2010 Global Hunger Index (GHI) released by the International Food policy Research Institute ranked India a disgraceful 67th among 84 countries that it rated. The GHI is calculated using three major indicators – proportion of population undernourished prevalence of child malnutrition and rate of child mortality below five years of age.

Out of the three indicators, India has the worst stats in two that are about children. India is home to 42% of all the underweight children in the world. 5000 children die every day due to preventable diseases and about 47% of adolescent girls in India are undernourished.

Hunger and malnutrition. So rampant in a country which is supposed to have become self-sufficient in food production in the late 70s. It is truly a shame.

The proposed Right to Food Act by the UPA government is definitely much appreciated. Perceiving food as a right is indeed a bold move and as Amartya Sen says, “a step in the right direction.” And is a glimmer of hope to millions of children who go to bed hungry. But the ‘draft’ of the National Food Security Bill still remains a draft even after more than two years.

On the other hand, there are still confusions about the Below Poverty Line calculations and the planning commission presenting to the Supreme Court that people who earn Rs.32 are not poor, the number of children who will have to go to work might increase rapidly. The Bill also needs to include orphans too, especially child-headed households in the context of children affected by HIV and AIDS, where children mostly live with no adult caretakers. As such, innovative approaches are required to reach these populations of ‘out of school’, migrant children and orphan children.

India, generally has some of the best policies in the world. But, implementation is where we as a nation, and governments, have failed. Therefore, the new legislation needs to have systems and safeguards to ensure that the standards are largely met. The bill should include monitoring systems to measure changes in the wellbeing of families and individuals as a result of the public investment.

The feeble voices of 12.6 million child labourers in India, 4.6 million children out of school and the 57 million malnourished children are echoed in the words of Bishop Desmond Tutu – “I’m not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want my full menu of rights.”

Our politicians have to stand up to their accountabilities. The Right to Food Act has to be passed at the earliest.

The full menu of rights might take a while. But let’s start with the first on the menu. The very basic right to live - the right to food.

wvindia.blogspot.com



About the Writer

theo is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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2 comments on Hungry Children in a Self Sufficient Country.

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By TonyBerkman on October 24, 2011 at 07:17 pm

It's a sad state of affairs when you look at the numbers that you write about: "Food and Beverages industry in India is worth $300 billion. And in terms of production, India is the third largest producer of food grains in the world (230 tonnes per year)." Yet so many people are hungry. I think of the USA too and the waste that occurs here and how many people could be fed both here and across the globe. It makes me wonder where are values as humans are and how we allow our governments and society to be run in such ways that so many people either starve or have no clean water -- yet we have plenty of both available.

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By Angie Alaniz on October 24, 2011 at 07:31 pm

Your article is such an eye opener and heart breaking.

The very thought that (globally) we use and consume Indian cuisine and most of them are buffet style servings is just shocking when you step back and take in what you have written. If India is the 3rd largest producing grains for us at 230 tones per year which is $300. billion dollars? How can it be then that 5000 kids die everyday due to disease and because of this little girls are usually the ones undernourished? On Purpose? That is not only shocking but plain wrong. There is no way that India can have some of the best policies in the world because they just don't get done. One think is to speak about doing something good for others, its another thing to actually do them.

I can surely understand and agree with your words of changing the menu to having the right to live and the right to food. That is a given. Though I wouldn't through out any hand outs either as not everyone will consider themselves your master. If I may ask, why would you make that statement?.

“I’m not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master."

Where does that come from?

No offense, Theo, I think your article is awesome! Just wondering?

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