India ranked very low in the Global Hunger Index. It should send alarming bell across not only policymakers, but also across political parties, civil society, and media. Hunger is one of the biggest problems facing our country. Though sometimes poverty line is taken as an index to define the magnitude of poverty but hunger line reflects worst deprivation of food and in India, millions go without having food every day.
The problem of hunger is a structural problem and it is linked with the caste system. A few years back, the tribals in Odisha died of eating mango kernel, the only food that they could consume when they had nothing to eat. The incidences of poverty in some of the regions of India are more acute than the incidences of poverty in some of the Sub-Saharan African nations as well. Indian government must attack poverty.
At the end of UPA II, there was a growing talk and discussion about the Food Security Bill, which should have immediately become an act. Food security is as much important as national security. We spend millions of dollars on border security, but almost nothing to ensure food security.
To our neighbour’s China’s credit, it successfully brought out 600 millions of people out of poverty and it can offer so many lessons to India as to how to target the poverty. India is keen on attracting USD 80 billion from the Chinese companies to create 700,000 jobs, but it is not keen to fight the poverty the way Chinese did to bring out masses out of poverty.
The Government runs superficial policies which will never have any impact. The researchers have shown that unless India attacks the source of structural violence and inequality, the caste-based social order, no progress in any area is not possible. The big bang launch of “Clean India” will produce only noise and celebrities photo-ops for circulation in the media. The most important campaign for the development of India in all the sectors is “Clean India of the Caste”, as it is at the root of all the problems facing India.
What can we do about food will determine the solution to the problem of food. For example, farmers must have an all-comprehensive policy that will enable them to grow food which will not only give them cash but also will make India secure in terms of food. The farmers are continuously committing suicide as they do not want to move away from agriculture, but also they are stuck with loans and market failures. With agricultural sector in danger and plagued by the mindless policies like unequal distribution of land, the food security is a distant dream.
Author – Mangesh Dahiwale