Incredible India 12 – Hungry India

Folks, this edition of Incredible India focuses on the hundreds of millions in India who go to bed hungry every night in India’s countless villages.

We present below an excerpt from the recent Report on the State of Food Insecurity in Rural India jointly prepared by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF).

The increase in severity of food insecurity can be gauged from following points:
* The proportion of population consuming less than 1890 kcal/cu/diem has in fact increased in the states of Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, West Bengal, Rajasthan and marginally for Punjab.
* Almost 2/3rd of rural households in Jharkhand did not have access to safe drinking water in 2001.
* More than 90 percent of rural households in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh did not have access to toilets within their premises.
* As many as eight states – Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have shown increase in the incidence of anaemia among women in the reproductive age group. The highest increase in anaemia levels has been observed in Andhra Pradesh (51 to 64 percent), followed by Haryana (48 to 57 percent) and Kerala (23 to 32 percent).
* The proportion of women with CED has drastically increased for Assam (28 to 40 percent) followed by Bihar (40 to 46 percent), Madhya Pradesh (42 to 45 percent) and Haryana (31 to 33 percent).
* 12 out of 20 states under consideration have figures higher than 80 percent for proportion of rural anaemic children. Bihar, that already had a high figure of 81 percent, has further increased to 89 percent.
* The proportion of rural stunted children in Karnataka has increased from 39 to 43 percent.

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.

Mera Bharat Mahan.

6 Responses to "Incredible India 12 – Hungry India"

  1. Stitha   February 27, 2009 at 6:50 am

    This one actually brings nightmares to me. I can only see a horror called ‘India’ in the future with its increasing population . ( The median age of an Indian is 25 years , which might imply more sex and hence more children). Imagine if at least 2% of the population is not satisfied with the country and comes to streets !! . But still no strict law on population policy.

    In these situations I face a philosophical/moral/ethical dilemma – whether I should escape from this country and live a peaceful life some where in Scandinavian countries? Here friends opine that is the best an intelligent person could do . But see I have this Idiotic love for India which I’m unable to get it out of my body and the brain. Responds:

    The only hope for India is a leader like Lee Kuan Yew. But that’s unlikely to happen.

  2. Stitha   February 27, 2009 at 7:03 am

    Here in India , the people think that India would be a superpower in the near future. Somehow.

    And the media here never cares to publish these articles. I’m kind of uber frustrated with Indian media.
    And thanks for publishing the article.(The sense of peace you get when the other guy knows the truth that you believe in )

  3. aditya_k   February 27, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Punjab too? thats one state i didn’t expect to see here.

    stitha is right, its amazing how the media here never cares to mention these things.

    And its not just people here thinking that india would become an economic superpower, it’s a prediction based on the growth of our GDP…but of course,the distribution of wealth is so uneven that it won’t make a difference to these hungry people.

    What an irony that the country which is home to the richest ‘family’ in the world (the ambani bros.) has such miserable statistics…. Responds:

    We doubt in our lifetime (and most likely yours too) that things will change much for the rural poor.

    Urban areas – yes, some improvements for a few but not much.

    But to read that 2/3rd of villagers in Jharkhand do not have access to safe drinking water is sickening, literally and figuratively.

  4. karthik15981   February 28, 2009 at 10:28 am

    This is disturbing considering the fact that India is the third largest producer of food in the world.

    In 2001, it was estimated that 20 percent of food grains that India produced annually were eaten away by rodents and food and vegetables worth 350 billion rupees was wasted every year.

    In 2001 in UK, 88 percent of food was processed. In 2009, in India only a meager 1 percent of food is processed for its own use. What else can we expect?. Responds:

    1. It’s not how much food was produced. It’s how many people have the capability to purchase the available food that’s the issue.

    As Amartya Sen has shown in his study of the Bengal famine of 1943 (in which 3 million died), there can be enough food in an area and yet large numbers of people can die. It’s not the availability of food but access to food that’s important. In rural India, food availability is not the issue but food access is.

    2. The Government of India announced on Friday, i.e. February 27:

    The subsidy provided by the Central Government for making foodgrains available to the poor sections of the society at affordable rates is on the rise. It presently ranges from 80% to 50% for AAY, BPL and APL categories of ration card holders.

    If hundreds of millions of people are going hungry, where’s all the money and subsidized foodgrains going?

    Are these schemes only on paper? It would seem so or people in rural India are too poor to purchase even these cheap grains. Whichever the case, it’s very depressing.

    3. While food processing is good because it reduces waste (by rodents, rain, rotting et al), it does not address the core problem of such widespread hunger.

    4. Bottomline, most of us in India are desensitized to the immense suffering of so many of our fellow human beings. A tragedy beyond description.

    5. It’s no coincidence that the problem of Maoists violence is high in states like Jharkhand where folks in the rural areas still live in stone-age like conditions.

  5. SRINIVAS   March 2, 2009 at 6:55 am

    Thanks ….Let’s hope …We focus on real issues and not – Valentine day –

  6. SRINIVAS   March 2, 2009 at 6:57 am

    Govt has something called as buffer stock of foodgrains ….which is supposed to be given to all those who cannot afford …maybe in food for work program ….but as usual …..corruption and black market …

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