India has many things to be ashamed of – entrenched corruption, pathetic basic infrastructure, frequent communal violence, abject poverty and chronic hunger of its many poor millions, to name just a few.
But nothing is more shameful than the growing number of chronically hungry or undernourished people in the country.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, India has the maximum number of chronically hungry people in the world.
For the 2003-2005 period, India had 230.5 million undernourished people. That’s nearly 31 million more than in the 1995-97 period.
This means that 21% of India’s 1.12 billion people were undernourished in 2003-2005, same as in the 1995-97 period, according to the FAO’s The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2008.
The FAO puts the total number of hungry people in the world at 923 million in 2007, significantly higher thanÂ the figure of 848 million in 2003-05.
Here’s an damning excerpt on India from the just released FAO Report:
After registering impressive gains between 1990â€“92 and the mid-1990s, progress in reducing hunger in India has stalled since about 1995â€“97. The high proportion of undernourished in India in the base period (24 percent) combined with a high population growth rate means that India has had a challenging task in reducing the number of undernourished.
The increase in the number of undernourished in India can be traced to a slowing in the growth (even a slight decline) in per capita dietary energy supply for human consumption since 1995â€“97. On the demand side, life expectancy in India has increased from 59 to 63 years since 1990â€“92. This has had an important impact on the overall change in population structure, with the result that in 2003â€“05 the growth in minimum dietary energy requirements had outpaced that of dietary energy supply.
The combination of the declining per capita growth rate in total dietary energy supply and higher per capita dietary energy requirements resulted in an estimated 24 million more undernourished people in India in 2003â€“05 compared with the base period [1990-92]. The increased food needs of the ageing population amount to about 6.5 million tonnes per year in cereal equivalent.
Did we hear some idiot say Mera Bharat Mahan.