Saturday, June 13, 2009

Hungry Bharat Vs Fatty India

Five year old Rajju never forget to take her severely malnourished younger brother, 2, to village’s nutrition Center, locally known as Aaganwadi, for taking afternoon food.

Feebleness, pale-colour, dull-eyes and light yellow hairs are some features of Rajju’s brother, who is facing severe malnutrition.

He is one among the more than hundred malnourished children of Dagarkot village in Madhya Pradesh, located in Central India.

Madhya Pradesh, known as heart of India, has ‘extremely alarming’ level of hunger comparable to Chad and Ethiopia.

In larger picture, the world’s second largest growing economy’s ranking on Global Hunger Index is worse than two-dozens Sub-Saharan countries.

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), which scales Global Hunger Index, estimates forty percent of world’s malnourished children live in India.

Meanwhile, Indian government’s response to crises looks malnourished.

Government is running nutrition centers all over the country under world’s largest supplementary nutrition programme for children. But, situation on the ground is becoming bad to worse day by day.

A child right activist Razia Ismail declares this programme as ‘failure’.

“Eight out of ten children are underfed. Children deserve more attention from policy makers,” Ismail said during a function on Child Right last week.

A recent United Nations World Food Program (UNWFP)’s report reveals that most rural Indians are victims of malnutrition. It indicates a rural child is facing more risk of life than urban child.

“Even Slumdog Millionaire’s Zamal Malik is luckier than his counterpart in village,” rural development expert Rahat Hasan says while pointing towards more challenge face by rural India, which account for 76 percent of India’s total population.

Instead of taking more concrete steps, government is reducing spending on food security as it put 1.12 percent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in 2008-09, significantly less than 1.35 percent of GDP in 2006-07.

“Ruling alliance has to face elections in coming months therefore it is more focussing on schemes with political potential,” says Nitin Singh, a political researcher in Indian Parliament while explaining reason behind reduction in government spending on food security despite chronic picture.

Mohan Katara, who works in severely hunger-affected district of Madhya Pradesh, says, “See this village (Dagarkot) has full mobile network and road connectivity but forty percent of villagers are still facing hunger.

“Government needs to focus on food security and health first,” he further explains.

“These children can’t vote therefore they are dieing,” says social worker Prakash Michael while criticising vote-hungry political class for lacking social commitment.

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