Hot News

Injustice Invisible - 78

Injustice Invisible - 78

India  was perhaps one of the first countries in the world to launch a family planning programme as early as 1952 and according to 2011 reports of the rechristened family planning into family welfare programme, there is an increased use of one or more methods of contraception among the people resulting in the reduction of fertility rate from 5.7 in 1966 to 2.4 in 2012. However the fertility rate is still alarmingly high to result into an unmanageable population growth. It is estimated that every twenty days India adds about 1,000,000 to its population and it is set to reach two billion by the middle of the present century. Hence population control is an important issue for India; but it has adopted an undeclared method of population control which is highly objectionable and is amounting to genocide.

It was Henry Kissinger who verbalized that method of population control when he stated in 1970, “If you control food, you control the population”. Silently and stealthily India is following such a policy irrespective of the governments that are emerging in place at every five or so years normally. We criticize China’s population control as cruel; but what India follows is the most cruel population control method: Invisible Injustice.

India is the country where maximum number of death is taking place related to hunger and malnutrition or undernourishment. In spite of the tall claims of scientific and technological achievement, India harbours maximum number of hungry and undernourished people in the world. Large numbers of people in India are going through a silent and slow death every day. H alf of all child mortality under the age of five in India are caused by undernutrition which alone results in the loss of 3 million young lives per year. According to the UN report 2017, India harbours about 191 million undernourished people and 38.4% of the children under five are stunted in growth, 30% of the children are under weight and 21% are suffering from wasting disease which means their weight is too low compared to their height. Malnourished children have a higher risk of death from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhea, pneumonia, and malaria. The Global Hunger Index 2016 ranks India at 97 out of 118 countries on the basis of three leading indicators such as (1) prevalence of wasting and stunting diseases among children under five years, (2) mortality rate of children under five years of age, and (3) the proportion of undernourished in the population. According to the same report India harbours 23.4% of world’s hungry people and 51.4% of the women between the age 14 to 49 years are anemic; one in four children are malnourished; about 3000 children die per day in India due to poor nutrition related diseases; the under five death is estimated to be 24 per cent while neo-natal death records 30 per cent. (1. www.indiafoodbanking.org/hunger; 2.www.livemint.com › Politics › Human Development; 3.www.naandi.org/wp-content/uploads/.../HUNGaMA-Survey-2011-The-Report)

Following are the main Indian hunger facts according to “ Hunger Facts/The Hunger Site for Facts: Bhookh.com”.

1. Hunger remains the No.1 cause of death in the India/world; aids, cancer etc. follow,

2. There are 820 million chronically hungry people in the world,

3. One-third of world’s hungry (273 million) live in India,

4. 836 million Indians survive on less than Rs 20 a day,

5. Over 20 crore Indians will sleep hungry tonight,

6. 10 million people die of chronic hunger and hunger related diseases every year,

7. India has now 212 million undernourished people,

8. 99% population in a sample of 1000 Adivasi households from 40 villages in two States were found experiencing chronic hunger,

9. Over 7000 Indians die of hunger every day,

10. Over 2.55 million Indians die of hunger every year,

11. 50% of Indian children are underweight and more than 70 percent of the women and children are with serious nutritional deficiencies like anemia, calcium deficiency etc.,

12. The 1998-99 survey showed 57% of the children aged 0-3 years were found to be either severely or moderately stunted and/or underweight,

13. During 2006-2007 seven million children died in India due to mal-nutrition of whom two million were less than one year old,

14. 30% of newborn are of low birth weight, 56% of married women are anaemic and 79% of children age 6-35 months are anaemic,

15. The number of hungry people in India is always more than the number of people below official poverty line. Around 37% of rural households were below the poverty line in 1993-94, 80% of households suffered under nutrition. State wise percentage of p overty estimation in India (2012) is given in Table 1.

Table 1: State wise poverty rates in India (2012)

Sl

No

Percentage of

Population

States

1

35-40

Chhattisgarh, Manipur,

2

30-35

MP, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh

3

25-30

Uttar Pradesh, Mizoram

4

20-25

Karnataka, Manipur,

5

15-20

Gujarat, Maharastra, West Bengal, Nagaland

6

10-15

Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttarakhand,

Jammu Kashmere, Meghalaya, Tripura

 

 1-10

Kerala, Goa, Sikkim, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh

There is no state in India where poverty does not exist; even the existence one percent poverty itself is very shameful for any country. Except Kerala, Goa, Andhra, Telangana, Punjab and Sikkim all the states in India have poverty rate above 10 per cent (Table 1). For many years we in India talked about “Poverty Line” which was always a controversial concept and hence now have switched over to “Poverty Rates” as we notice in the title of the Table 1: Invisible Injustice.

The Indian Poverty line/rate

The poverty line/rate in India is an unbelievably ludicrous concept; Those who have one meal a day are considered above poverty line/rate; it means just one meal a day and nothing more which means, no clothes, no home, no education, no employment etc. How can you call a naked, homeless, illiterate, unemployed man above poverty line just because he gets a meal a day? The one meal does not even mean a balanced meal; who can live and work eight hours a day with one incomplete meal a day? For the readers’ benefit let me enumerate the minimum quantity of essential things required for any human being: 1) balanced diet as per ICMR standards and according to one’s age, gender and work, 2) minimum of five sets of dresses and beddings, 3) housing of 600 sq ft area per family of six, 4) education up to graduation level, 5) availability of basic medical assistances, 6) eight hour of gainful work, 7) enough recreation and relaxation, and 8) eight hours rest and sleep, 9) insurance against normal risks in life, 10) equal opportunities to come up in life. These are the criteria for poverty line or rates. Anyone who lacks any one of these is below the actual poverty line/rate. That being the raw facts about human beings in India, the poverty line/rate fabricated by the government of India is far from the actual poverty line/rate. By changing the “Poverty Line” into “Poverty Rate” the Governments are playing with words and the lives of people. The one meal a day poverty line/rate is best suited to animals. Indeed in India cattle are looked after better than human beings. In our Arshabharat, a sick and starving cow is well-fed and cared for but a sick and starving human being. People die of hunger related diseases and not hunger as such; hence hardly any hunger deaths are reported as it happened in Bengal famine in the last century. Hunger deaths are slow and invisible. Hunger in India is mainly due to food control. Invisible Injustice.

 

Tuberculosis is the result of under-nourishment. Each year in India approximately 2,20,000 deaths are reported due to tuberculosis alone and according to world Health Organization (2011) India has the highest number of tuberculosis cases- about 2.2 million though the TB-drug sales suggests the number goes up to 2.6 million.

The Indian control of population through control of food has linkages with the food control policy of economically and militarily dominant nations of the world. The control and management of global food supplies has been a corporate and political priority for decades, with US-based multinational companies taking the lead. US export strategy in the 1970s was to further the control of food supplies. This led to moves to consolidate power as 95 percent of all grain reserves in the world were under the control of six US based multinational agribusiness corporations such as 1) Cargill Grain Company, 2) Continental Grain Company, 3) Cook Industries Inc, 4) Dreyfus, 5) Bunge Company, and 6) Archer Daniels Midland. The US long-term strategy was to dominate the global grain market and agriculture commodities, as outlined in the early 1970s by Richard Nixon. The traditional agriculture was systematically replaced with corporate agribusiness production policy. ( investmentwatchblog.com/kissinger-control-oil-and-you-control-nations-control-food) . The same is happening with the help of multinational companies in India.  

Anyone can avail the list of major multinational companies controlling food and agribusiness from any information network. They are in collusion with Indian companies which divert a lot of food products into processed foods which are not obvious to ordinary people. Recent control of all Indian pulses by Adani Group  raising their prices above 200 per kg is an excellent example of the control of the most important protein food item for the poor people in India. Millions of Indians are not able to avail pulses into their daily diet resulting in rampant protein-deficiency-related sicknesses leading to death. F ood processing industry which diverts huge quantities of food grains constitutes 14% to  India’s GDP.  The food processing industry is one of the largest industries in India and ranks fifth in terms of production, consumption and exports and reached US$ 258 billion in 2015. Once food items are processed at the international standard they become totally inaccessible to the common and poor people: Invisible Injustice of eliminating the lower income people.

The willful neglect of Public Distribution system of our country is another way of eliminating millions of poor people slowly and stealthily. In theory the superstructure of the PDS is perhaps as big and ambitious as it can become. Set up first in Bombay in 1939 by the British, the PDS is perhaps the biggest food security apparatus in the world. This noble scheme was restarted in February 1944 and was re-launched again in June 1947 in the present form. Clothed in good intentions, food subsidy is money allocated to reach food to the poor through the public distribution system (PDS) to prevent malnutrition. With over five lakh outlets, the PDS aims to cover over 141 million card holders across India, of whom 67 million live below poverty line.

When the PDS was revamped the last allocation for food subsidy quadrupled from Rs 6,606 crore in 1997 to 26,200 crore in 2005-6. A large chunk of the outlay- as much as 66.5 per cent in 2002-3 was actually spent on procuring food grain from farmers, maintaining stocks, paying carrying costs and for interest. Only 31.2 per cent of the money is spent on subsidizing food grain. Much of this too is lost in leakage and theft on the way and barely 13 paise per rupee spent on food subsidy actually reached the poor. The maladies of PDS need a separate write and I shall do it later. It is enough to say that PDS is beset with corruption and malpractices. From 1985 to 2005 seven major indictments were issued to PDS. Let me quote the first and the last. Planning Commission study, 1985 indicted, “Beneficiary households were not drawing the ration even for one out of 11 commodities because of their irregular supply and poor quality”. Again Planning Commission Study 2005 indicted PDS: “In 2003-04, 16 states were issued 14.07 million tons of food grain of which only 5.93 million tons reached BPL families. More than 5 million tons leaked out in transit and over 3 million tons were diverted from the system.”

When it comes to the public health system in India the situation is even worse. According to report published in Hindustan Times, 27th August 2017 In India, there is one government allopathic doctor for every 10,189 people, one government hospital bed for every 2,046 people and one state-run hospital for every 90,343 people. It is a matter of routine that patients share beds and doctors are overworked. Only around 10% of the doctors work in the public health sector. The shortage of health providers and infrastructure is the most acute in rural areas, where catastrophic health expenses push populations of about 70 million into poverty and eventual death each year. We have bodies of the dead being mutilated by dogs in hospital morgues, people carrying home the their dead because the hospital refused them the ambulance service and tragedies like the hundreds of infant deaths in government hospitals like what happened in Gorakhpur’s Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College.

Successive Governments in India are failing both the Public Distribution System and Public Health System. What more you need for the subtle, stealthy and yet the most efficient method of population control?

Introduction of cow protection act has increased death rate of the poor in India beyond any estimates. Meat of the culled cattle was the main source of much needed protein for the low income group of people who are mostly scheduled castes and tribes in India. According to Alison Saldanha , assistant editor with ‘India Spend.com’, 99.38% Indians now live in areas under cow-protection laws. That means nearly 70% of the population belong to all the scheduled castes and 8% belonging to the tribals are stealthily pushed into protein deficiency. ( indiaspend.com › Cover Story, 17 April 2017). Besides thousands of crores are spent by the government on Goushalas to maintain millions of unproductive cattle in India; but they are worth millions of rupees and is the much needed protein rich food to the people at the lowest strata of Indian society. Patanjali alone is spending 500 crore for the scrub cattle. It is reported that nearly 150 crore is spent on issuing Adhar Cards to the cows while crores of people in India especially the rural poor have not got the Adhar Card (firstpost.com/.../aadhaar-cards-for-cows).

It should be remembered that the omnivorous habit of the Chinese is saving millions of people in China from hunger, poverty and untimely death due to malnutrition or under-nourishment. As we are importing millions of rupees worth Chinese products why don’t we import their food habits also? The type of enforced vegetarianism and cattle protection laws in India are costing millions of lives of the people at the lower strata: Most ingenious Population Control of India- Invisible Injustices.

(The writer is retired Professor from XIM, Bhubaneswar.  Email: ktchandysj@gmail.com)

(Published on 08th January 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 02)