Since 1992 India is on the path of economic resurgence, it has become third largest economy in Southeast Asia after China and Japan, and yet there are more hungry people in India than in Sudan. It may be a shocking revelation, but sadly true, India ranks 67th among 84 developing nations in the International Food Policy Research Institute’s annual “Global Hunger Index” for 2010. How shameful even smaller countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Sudan, North Korea and Pakistan rank higher than India. Nearly 42 percent of world’s underweight children under the age of five live in India and about 48 percent have stunted growth due to malnutrition and starvation.
As the Indian economy is growing fast, the population of undernourished is growing faster. At the beginning of liberalisation era in the 90’s nearly 24 percent population was undernourished as compared with 44 percent in 2003-08. No wonder infant mortality rate and of children under the age of five is much higher in India. In terms of Global Hunger Index (GHI), India’s composite GHI of 24 percent has been classified as alarming in terms of food security situation. How do the worthy economists of our country view this situation? What policy the Govt has to subdue hunger pangs of the undernourished millions? Ironically, increase in per capita income has not given any relief to the starving population- ‘mahangai dayan khai jaat hai’.
Tons and tons of food grains rot in the FCI godowns every year and eaten by the rodents, but our Agriculture Minister say ‘no’ to the needy poor. He is not agreeable to free distribution of grains despite Supreme Court’s directions. The Government hasn’t shown magnanimity for the undernourished and underprivileged poor of the country, even the Prime Minister has sided with the Agriculture Minister because of his compulsions best known to him.
Food is as important for survival as air and water. The spiralling price rise of food items has made it difficult for a common man to have two square coarse meals, forget about nutritious meals. The poor’s access to food is dwindling more rapidly. Government’s policy about food security is yet to see the light of the day as the policymakers are fighting over the need to have an ‘expensive’ National Food Security Act.