Freedom from Hunger – a luxury in India?

Entrepreneurs showing intent to pull the country out of this abyss

News - India & You

Society

October 19, 2016

/ By / Kolkata

An economy with undoubted potential, India is ironically home to 200 million food-insecure people. According to the Global Hunger Index, India ranks 97 out of 118 countries. As the World Food Day on October 16 draws attention to the evident crisis, an overview of individuals coming forward to take up the cause reveals a glimmer of hope.

The gruesome reality of social justice in India provokes thought on the country's expenditure priorities

The gruesome reality of social justice in India provokes thought on the country’s expenditure priorities

A vicious cycle encompassing poverty, dearth of opportunity, corruption, increasing population, ever-increasing economic gap making divisions in class all the more glaring, unacceptably unequal distribution of resources, archaic social construct that promotes regressive concepts like caste discrimination, preposterous social habits of wastage and negligence – all of it leads to the shameful state of hunger in the country that is getting increasingly difficult to eradicate. As the World Food Day US chapter’s website rightly reads, “The only acceptable number of hungry people in the world is zero”. Entrepreneurs and volunteers in India have come forward with the mission of eliminating the cause from existing in totality, but statistics substantiate the fact that it is far from adequate.

Some fight negligence

Out of more than 18,000 applicants across 186 countries, Ankit Kawatra was picked by the UN for being an individual who contributed to bring about change. His youth-run, not-for-profit organisation, Feeding India, runs sustained feeding programmes with 2,200 volunteers to redistribute excess food to people across 32 cities in the country. It states #BeAHungerHero. With about 1.3 million meals served, it still has a very tough road ahead.
It is indispensable to note that women comprise a little more than 60 pc of the world’s population of the hungry. In 2015, India ranked 80th among 104 countries, a statistic that shows its steady deterioration. Rwanda, Ethiopia and Afghanistan have shown improvement in contrast.

The Akshay Patra Foundation is the world’s largest not-for-profit organisation headquartered in Bengaluru, India, ‘serving wholesome food to over 1.6 million children from 13,210 schools across 11 states in India’. Their mission statement reads, “Our organisation strives to fight issues like hunger and malnutrition in India, by implementing the Mid-Day Meal Scheme in the government schools and government-aided schools. Akshaya Patra aims not only to fight hunger but also to bring children to school.
Villages across states in the country are still haranguing about subsidised food and it is mind boggling how the demands have had to stagnate over decades with no means or ends achieved.

Alleviation from poverty and hunger, in practice, is far from being achieved amidst promises of development in the country

Alleviation from poverty and hunger, in practice, is far from being achieved amidst promises of development in the country

As travelling economist Jean Dreze with his team of young economists travel to various villages across states to understand and archive the root of the issue in a house-to-house survey format, a hurdle of challenges, both social and political are faced by them in the course of implementing the National Food Security Act (NFSA).

It is interesting to note how pre-election phases in a majority of villages observes the Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011 (SECC) being given its due importance and its drawbacks of skipping families are worked around as a result of which a surprise distribution of ration cards witnesses a Christmas-comes-early situation for a vast population of the country struggling with shackles of deprivation.

It is perhaps, imperative, to reconsider the budgetary investments of the country in an effort to prioritize the riddance of the seemingly endless string of human rights violations.

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