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  • » 10/16/2007, 00.00

    INDIA

    Development not stopping hunger, more than 400 million Indians malnourished

    Nirmala Carvalho

    The International Food Policy Research Institute shows that 40 per cent of the world’s underweight children under five live in India. Add disadvantaged groups like the poor and women who have a hard time feeding themselves and you get 400 million people. Priests and activists point the finger at corruption and bad governance.

    New Delhi (AsiaNews) – Industrial development, tax reforms and entrepreneurship are not enough to overcome malnutrition. India may be the second fastest growing economy in the world but it still has a long way to go in eradicating hunger where it is ranked in 94th position well behind neighbouring China and Pakistan, which are 47th and 88th respectively, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) reported.

    In a recent study the IFPRI points out that whatever improvement India has achieved it is not in proportion to its economic boom and that it is children who suffer the most. In fact, 40 per cent of the world’s underweight children under five live in India. Add to them disadvantaged groups like the poor and women who have a hard time at feeding themselves and you reach the figure of 400 million people.

    According to Fr Nithiya Sagayam, executive secretary of the National Commission for Justice, Peace and Development, these figures “are nothing new but sadly confirm what we already knew.”

    The growing economy and industrial development have replaced agriculture, which gave hope for development in large rural areas of India,” he said. “The cities are now eating whilst farming villages go hungry.”

    For Father Sagayam corruption is another major problem. “It is endemic in the government apparatus. Whatever programme it launches, it fails. This explains why we have corrupt public officials who steal funds or manage them on behalf of family and friends. The poor are not represented or defended by anyone.”

    Lenin Raghuvanshi, director of the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights, agrees. “Government policies seem anti-poor. Government welfare schemes are dominated by caste and corruption. This does not allow for the development of society, but only of a few strata,” he told AsiaNews.

    “India is a pseudo-democracy,” he laments. “Projects are announced but never implemented. Special Economic Zones, farm policies, public procurement are destroying the lives of ordinary people. The conditions of the masses is tragic. In this situation the Indian government must intervene with force.”

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    See also

    18/06/2007 INDIA
    Economic boom should not be on the backs of the poorest of the poor
    In an interview with AsiaNews the executive secretary of the National Commission for Justice, Peace and Development explains how India’s economic boom is often taking place on the backs of the poor, who often lose the little they have to the benefit of big corporations. The Church fights for their rights. Gandhi’s example is remembered.

    26/07/2007 INDIA
    Every day hunger kills 6,000 children in India
    The Catholic Church launches a new campaign against malnutrition in the country. “Freedom from Hunger” is intended to draw people’s attention to the large segment of India’s population that does not have access to enough food.

    11/06/2008 INDIA
    Education and learning against child exploitation, says Lenin Raghuvanshi
    On World Day against Child Labour, the Indian activist calls for better schooling for everyone as the only solution to the problem. Some 55 million children live in slave-like conditions, especially among the lowest castes of society.

    23/04/2008 PAKISTAN
    Islamabad signs three UN human rights conventions
    According to the National Commission for Justice and Peace this is a good first step that must be followed up with a real policy in favour of human rights, one that fights discrimination and upholds the constitution.

    03/03/2008 INDIA
    A ‘bread and circuses’ budget
    The executive secretary of the National Commission for Justice, Peace and Development criticises the 2008-2009 Budget for being too populist. Spending estimates only offer short-term solutions in view of next year’s elections, but leave hundreds of millions of people, the poor and rural communities, destitute.



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