World Food Day And We The People Resolve
By Soheb Lokhandwala
15 October, 2012
Painting by Dhanaraj keezhara on World Food Day 2012
“To those who are hungry , God is bread”, is what Mahatma Gandhi said before Independence (1946). Now the question is whether it is valid even after 65 years of our Freedom? Unfortunately, the answer is in affirmative -albeit the perceived economic growth in few sectors/ segments and introduction and operationalisation of various welfare schemes
A country’s real growth is valued by its human development index like child mortality, child malnutrition and maternal mortality rate and other social indicators. The cogency of its progress and failure must also be known, to make a way forward for real term inclusive growth. On the Occasion of World Food Day which is observed on 16th Oct every year by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), defines food security as ‘when all people at all times, have excess to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for active and healthy life’. A paradigm shift is needed to move from Food Security to Food sovereignty by making long term productivity and sustainability in agriculture policy. This must ensure a universal access and guarantee to ‘nutritional Food Security’ viz. to be inclusive of the legislation. The aspect of conditional cash transfer must only be supportive but not a replacement to ‘nutritional food system’ existed in the form of Public Distribution System (PDS-ration shop).
Our Human Development Index-where we stand?
Report released by the International Food Policy and Research Institute (IFPRI) shows India ranked way below its South Asian neighbours Pakistan, Sri Lanka and China in the global hunger index 2011.South Asia fared worse than Sub-Saharan Africa netting a score of 22.6 on the global hunger index, or GHI. While, India stood 67th amongst 81 countries, Pakistan ranked 59, China ranked4th, Vietnam ranked 25th and Sri Lanka ranked 36th in the GHI. According to Action Aid, India is ranked 7th, ahead of Pakistan, Nigeria and 21 other countries, on factors of vulnerability in growing food and feeding its poor.
UNICEF (2011) Report naming ‘Committing to Child survival: A Promise Renewed’-gave alarmingly high figure of child mortality in India to as high as 17lakhs India’s Child mortality rate under 5years is 61 per 1000 live births which is in lower comparison to our the Asian countries Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh which show show figures of 54-48-46 per 1000 live births and ranking 51-57-60 respectively, inspite of their low GDP growth
The 'Child Mortality Estimates Report 2012' released by UNICEF reports around 50 per cent of global under-five deaths occurred in just five countries of India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan and China.
The Global Food Security Index (GFSI), a scoring tool that measures the drivers of food security in 105 countries, states that the undernourished in India consume, on an average, 240 kcal below the minimum requirement, which is indicative of the status of food deprivation in the country. India is ranked 66th in GFSI, scoring moderately across the four categories of affordability, availability, quality and safety.
Some reasons behind the fall-outs?
Hunger and malnourishment are related to un-employment, inadequate health-care facilities, lack of clean drinking water, no access to sanitation and gender inequality particularly for the girl child. There is lack of proper governance and the bureaucratic hurdles in implementation of various Govt.welfare schemes, further worsens the situation. The UN Special Rapporteur, Right to Food noted that due to commodity speculation on food price, there were food crises and riots all over World in 2008.
The Way Forward to Food Sovereignty
In India nearly 45% children are malnourished and still 70% of the population earns less than a dollar a day.. The grains which rot and get wasted must be distributed to needy and hungry. Marginalized farmers and poor landless must have the right to produce food with dignity, control over their traditional seeds, land and their food which will ensure the way forward to food justice. Structural reforms must be ensured towards Food Sovereignty so as to make agriculture more viable and profitable directed towards farmers.Carte-blanche approach must be put in use on Gram-Panchayat and Gram sabhas for the local Agri--resources and co-operative farming which can create a food economy. To ameliorate long term sustainability plan for removing hunger and malnourishment we must opt for Universalisation of Food, Health, Clean drinking water, Sanitation and Education (there is always possibility for making injustice by exclusion criteria of marginalized and deserving individuals and groups).The GDP growth and Social sector welfare measures must be reflected and perceived across all sections of societies especially among indigent- marginalised groups. Speculators and hoarders must be kept at bay from ‘Future-Food Commodity Market’ to ensure price stabilisation.
All we need is to save our children’s lives, by working at the global, national and sub- national level, in the remaining years of the 2015-Millenium development Goals(MDG ). The second is to leverage the MDGs as a driving force, with 2015 as a stepping stone, to sustain sharp reductions in under-five deaths during the following two decades and provide universal access to essential health and nutrition services for the world’s children. onto constantly focus on the farmers plight, children and mothers-who died due to poverty, hunger and malnutrition; though such demands might be sound repetitive, in retrospective it helps us shape a strong modus operandi for the change we perceive.
On World Food Day we the people of India resolve:-
To eradicate the tag of ‘Sub-Saharan Africa’ related to child mortality, hunger and malnourishment.
To make agriculture sustainable, viable, affordable and profitable for farmers by protecting traditional seeds, lands and biodiversity.
We resolve to make our food and nutritional welfare schemes ‘mother and child centric’ by means of empowering women in gram panchayats,gram sabhas,agriculture and other allied activities.
We resolve proper implementation& monitoring of Welfare schemes like Public Distribution System (PDS), ICDS, Mid Day Meal Scheme (MDMS) AND MNREGA-which needs to be strengthened and reformed to prevent leakages and diversion.
We resolve to work on a trickle-down effect by way of transparency and proper accountability in matters of governance.
We resolve to protect small food producer from all sides and at all cost(those who having land less than one acres)
We must also try to achieve and focus on the Millennium development Goals (MDG) which seeks empowerment of women, eradicating poverty key to economic and social development with regard to Food Security.
We as signatory to MDGs reaffirm, reiterate and resolve the following:-
To eradicate extreme poverty by half on or before 2015 deadline.
Promoting the empowerment and participation of rural women as critical agents for enhancing agriculture and rural development and food security and ensuring their equal access to productive resources, land, financing, technologies and markets.
Reaffirming the International commitment to eliminating hunger and to securing access to food for all and reiterating, in this regard, the important role of relevant organizations, particularly United Nation system.
Supporting small scale producers, including women, to increase production of a wide spectrum of traditional and other crops and livestock, and improving their access to markets, credits and inputs, hereby increasing income-earning opportunities for poor people and their ability to purchase food and improve their livelihoods.
Reaffirming the Right of everyone to have access to safe, sufficient and nutritious food, consistent with the right to adequate food and the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger, so as to be able to fully develop and maintain his or her physical and mental capacities.
Making special efforts to meet the nutritional needs of women, children, older persons and persons with disabilities as well as those living in vulnerable situation through targeted and effective programming.
Accelerating progress on the challenges faced by indigenous peoples in the context of food security, and in this regard taking special actions to combat the root causes of the disproportionately high level of hunger and malnutrition among indigenous people.
Under UNICEF banner of ‘A Promise Renewed’ a potent global movement led by governments, is mobilising to scale up action on three fronts: sharpening evidence-based country plans and setting measurable benchmarks; strengthening accountability for maternal, newborn and child survival; and mobilizing broad-based social support for the principle that no child should die from preventable causes. Concerted action in these three areas will hasten declines in child and maternal mortality, enabling more countries to achieve MDGs 4 and 5 by 2015 and sustain the momentum well into the future.
Let’s hope a better World prevails-‘where no person dies or sleep due hunger and malnutrition’ and ‘those who are hungry bread become reality not a dream’.
Soheb Lokhandwala is working voluntarily as social right activist from past seven years in the field of Right to Food,Health and Education.He is also attached to the organisation called Movement for Peace and Justice(MPJ) . On 31 July 2012 he was appointed as Representative to Advisor Supreme Court of India on Right to Food
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