Hunger kills 2,000 Indian kids each day’
Last Updated : 27 Sep 2011 09:18:30 AM IST
CHENNAI: Every day, more than 2,000 children die of hunger in India, according to a report released on Monday by international development agency Oxfam. Despite doubling its size of economy between 1990 and 2005, the number of people going hungry in the country during the period increased by 65,000, which was more than the population of France, noted the report, which also claims that about one-fourth of the world’s hungry population live in India.
Even worse, Dalit farmers in 35 per cent villages surveyed across the country by the agency were found to be barred from selling their produce in local markets.
“South Asian governments have largely failed in conquering hunger plaguing its population due to their broken food system which has worsened the situation,” said Cherian Mathews, Oxfam Deputy Regional Director in Asia, in a statement. “The region is going to face the extreme situation of food insecurity in near future unless the situation is resolved,” he warned.
The food insecurity situation in India seemed to be the direct output of the persisting social evils and inequalities. “More than 250 million Dalits still live precariously,” noted the report. It also stated that after decades of land reforms that India had gone through, close to 41 per cent of the rural population were still effectively landless in the country. To make matters worse, more than 55 million tribal people were evicted from their lands through acquisitions between 1951 and 2005. Crippled by debts and associated socio-economic problems, “a quarter of a million Indian farmers” have committed suicide in the past 15 years, it claimed.
India, while botching up its food production capacities in its homeland, was at the same time “acquiring” farmlands in African countries to feed its hungry population. But these acquisitions, according to the report, were happening at the cost of displacing millions of natives. “More than 80 Indian companies have bought land in Ethiopia alone. One of the largest companies is Karuturi Global, which owns land eight times the area of Mumbai in Ethiopia. These land acquisitions are not confined to Africa but extend to Central and South America,” the report noted.
Without urgent action, the report estimated that more than 17 per cent of the South Asian population might face food insecurity by 2050 due to shortage of staples. Climate change and induced disasters could make matters worse by reducing productivity, increasing damage and causing further skyrocketing of prices.
"We don’t have enough information to pinpoint which nation will face the most food insecurity,” said Uamdao Noikorn, Regional Media Coordinator of Oxfam Asia, in an email communication to Express. “However, based on the current policies, particularly on a country’s level of food import dependency and vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change, Bangladesh and Pakistan are highly at risk unless some measures are in place urgently.”