Skip to main content

45 hunger-related deaths in a year "reflect" distress across India: Aadhaar "main" reason

Counterview Desk
A protest took place at Krishi Bhawan, New Delhi, against "lack of government action on constant hunger deaths and hunger across the country" following which a delegation -- led by Aysha, Secretariat Coordinator, Right to Food Campaign, RTFC and her colleague Siraj -- met officials of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and discussed the situation of hunger in different states.
A memorandum addressed to Ram Vilas Paswan, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, along with a list of starvation deaths, was submitted. Officials assured the delegation for a meeting with the minister for discussing ways to strenghten right to food and public distribution system within 15 days from now.

Text of the memorandum:

We write to you to express our deep concern about the constant hunger deaths across the country. There is a silent emergency in the country with about 45 reported hunger-related deaths in the past one year from different states. These deaths are a reflection of the grave situation of hunger and distress in many parts of the country and Government must act urgently to ensure that not a single person succumbs to hunger anymore.
While the reasons for this situation of hunger are deep and systemic, it is also the case there has been a failure of all the protective measures that are in place. Most of these persons were denied their legal entitlement to subsidised food grains from the Public Distribution System (PDS).
Some of the victims households were not issued ration cards, despite repeated applications. Some ration cards were cancelled as they were not linked with Aadhaar. Many were unable to access their PDS rations due to Aadhaar-based biometric authentication failures. One person was denied ration even after successful Aadhaar-based biometric authentication.
The mandatory integration of PDS with Aadhaar is causing a lot of disruption on the ground. It has eroded the progress made through other PDS reforms over the past few years. A large proportion of ration cardholders are denied their legal entitlement to subsidised food or face inconveniences due to this integration.
There are many other concerns with the implementation of the National Food Security Act (NFSA). There are no systematic procedures for updating ration card lists and adding new names to ration cards. The population figures of 2011 are being used to determine quotas, although it has been seven years since and there is an increase in population. There is a drastic reduction in the number of Antyodaya (AAY) ration cards across the country. 
Although the NFSA includes millets, these are absent from the PDS baskets of most states. There is very poor enforcement of the transparency, accountability and grievance redress provisions of the Act. Some other provisions of the NFSA such as maternity entitlements are suffering from lack of resources, along with poor implementation.
All people residing in this country have a fundamental right to be free from hunger and malnutrition. This requires, on the one hand, sufficient availability of food, which in turn calls for strengthening of sustainable agricultural production systems, with special focus on the small rain-fed farmers. 
It requires that land and water resources must never be forcibly diverted away from food production for cash crops or industrial use. It also requires effectives systems of minimum support prices, price stabilisation, effective grain movement and storage, as well as strict regulation of speculation and trade.
Ensuring the Right to Food requires, on the other hand, economic access for people, involving for instance adequate employment and wage levels, the protection of existing livelihoods, and equitable rights over land, water and forests. It also requires social access, meaning that barriers of gender, caste, disability, stigma, age etc. must all be overcome. While it is the responsibility of governments to ensure that such conditions exist, the realization of the right to food also requires a system of direct food entitlements through public provision
Keeping the gravity of the situation in mind, Right to Food Campaign immediately demands:
  • Time in Parliament for a discussion on the situation of hunger.
  • The central government should immediately issue strict notifications clarifying that no person shall be denied any welfare services for the lack or failure of Aadhaar or biometric identification.
  • Criminal proceedings against all persons responsible for starvation deaths. 
  • The central government should review the status of distribution of AAY cards and ensure that all states have fulfilled their allocated number of AAY cards.
  • Inclusion of subsidised pulses and edible oil in the Public Distribution System. 
  • Universalization of the Public Distribution System and social security pensions.
  • Strict implementation of all social and economic legislations and Supreme Court orders. 
  • Activating the grievance redress system provisions of the National Food Security Act. Appointment of State Food Commissions, District Grievance Redressal Officers and Vigilance Committees in all states, districts, blocks and fair-price shops.
  • Antyodaya ration card for all single women and Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups. 
  • Reject any proposals for replacing the food and nutrition supplementation through schemes such as PDS, ICDS and school mid-day meals with cash transfers.
  • Demand that the maternity entitlements given under the Pradhan Mantri Matritva Vandana Yojana are fully in sync with the spirit of the NFSA the amount must be at least Rs. 6000 and there should not be any conditionalities imposed for getting benefit.
  • State level social audits must be conducted regularly.
---
*Click HERE for the list of hunger-related deaths in 2014-18

Comments

TRENDING

Economist-editor's allegations on Narmada defamatory, baseless: Medha Patkar

Counterview Desk  In a reply directly addressed to well-known economist, journalist and columnist Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar’s two articles in the Times of India (republished here and here ), calling them defamatory and wondering whether they were borne out of “ignorance or a conspiracy through political alliance”, Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Pakar has said that the Narmada Sardar Saravar Project and the people's movement by adivasis, farmers, labourers, fish workers, potters and all the generations’ old communities from the river valley have suddenly come to be focused on, since the Gujarat elections are in the doorstep. She believes that while the “defamatory accusations with baseless conceptions such as ‘urban naxals’ are to be laughed at as the electoral strategic moves, one gets shocked to read the articles by a known old columnist like Swaminathan Ankalesaria Aiyar, published in a reputed daily like the Times of India." According to her, Aiyar’s two articl

Hindutva groups threat to peace, freedom: US diaspora groups tell FBI, other govt depts

By Our Representative  The Islamophobic and neo-Nazi ideology of Hindutva is a clear and present danger to peace and freedoms in the United States, a coalition of civil rights organizations told key officials of the U.S. Attorney General’s Office, the US Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at a recent event in Edison, New Jersey. At the event titled United Against Hate, activists from American Muslims for Democracy (AMD), Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR) and Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) made detailed presentations on this ideology of Hindu supremacism that is committing mass persecution of India’s Muslims and Christians and is rearing its ugly head in New Jersey as well as across the US. Attending the event were David S Leonardis, Special Investigator from the New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety; Michael E Campion, Chief of the Civil Rights Division for the US Attorney General's Office; and Jonathan R Norbut of the U.S. Dep

Facing tough times, Rajasthan's Raika herders hold first-ever camel cheese festival

By Rosamma Thomas*  During the pandemic, the annual Pushkar camel fair in Rajasthan did not occur for fear of contagion; in 2022, it was called off again as lumpy skin disease affected cattle. At Sadri in Pali district, however, festivity continues – a two-day Camel Cheese Festival was held on November 23 and 24, 2022. Visitors spent time with the camel herds and their Raika, drank camel-milk tea with the herders and then returned to lunch at the Kumbhalgarh Camel Dairy, from where the Kumbhalgarh Fort is visible, to taste camel cheese. The Raika herders have been facing a tough time – camels are no longer used as much for transport or agriculture in Rajasthan. The animals have limited utility, but their milk is prized. Camel Charisma, the dairy at Kumbhalgarh, sends camel milk across the country to people who use it in therapy – for autistic children, improved blood sugar levels, or even to treat cancer. It is believed that the health benefits of the camel milk is because the animals

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

As polls approach, electorate 'failing to realise': Gujarat model is in a shambles

By DN Rath*  Gujarat assembly elections, scheduled to be held on 1 and 5 December 2022, is viewed by many as dress rehearsal for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. When the suffering people have been pointing towards redressal of some local issues like absence of cleanliness, sewage problem, shortage of water supply, troubles created by stray cattle, insufficiency of streetlights, etc., it is evident that they are not fully aware that assembly elections are being fought on ideological standpoints and policy decisions. Nor is there the realisation that the state is in a shambles and the much-trumpeted ‘Gujarat model’ of development has proved to be a hoax. Like other states, the people of Gujarat are also back-broken by steep rise in prices to the tune of 400% in last 20 years. It is not that the government cannot control the spurt in prices if it so wants. Apart from the fact that price rise is an inevitability in a capitalist economy, artificial shortage triggered by massive hoarding, b

Shedding Hindu-Hindi-Hindustan? New Modi-Shah love for Tamil Nadu 'ignores' Periyar

By Sandeep Pandey*   The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) or the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) have long argued for ‘Hindu-Hindi-Hindustan’, which into recent years has translated into a crisper English expression: ‘One Nation-One Religion-One Language’. Given this backdrop, it is curious that the BJP government has organised the Kashi Tamil Sangamam in Varanasi, the Prime Minister’s constituency. Why did the BJP and RSS feel the need for such an event? All Narendra Modi events are highly publicised and have multiple political objectives. It is never an innocuous religious/cultural event as it may appear from the face of it. Afterall, RSS calls itself a cultural organisation, but has never ceased to surprise us with its political designs. Tamil Nadu has a long history of opposing imposition of Hindi by Union governments. Periyar EV Ramasamy had opposed the idea of compulsory teaching in Hindi as far back as in 1937. The 1960s witnessed violent protests against Hindi in which a number

Amit Shah accused of inciting communal passion: Demand to postpone Gujarat polls

Counterview Desk  In an email representation to the Election Commission of India (ECI), Dr EAS Sarma, former secretary to the Government of India, has objected to the statement reported to have been made by Union home minister Amit Shah, who allegedly justified the 2002 Gujarat riots stating that certain sections of people “taught a lesson” to the rioters. Noting that the statement, if correct, “in effect implies those other than the law enforcement authorities had taken law into their hands”, Sarma says, “Shah's statement needs to be viewed by the ECI in conjunction with the reported fact that it was the Union Home Ministry that cleared the release of the eleven rape convicts in the Bilkis Bano case, directly related to the infamous Godhra incidents in 2002, which triggered the shameful sequence of events that shook the nation's conscience.” According to Sarma, if the statement is true, “I am constrained to draw the inevitable inference that it would have already impacted th

BJP poll gimmick? Bilkis Bano rape case 'pardon' vs Rajiv assassins' release

By Sandeep Pandey*  Supreme Court has released six convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. This was bound to happen as earlier AG Perarivalan was released in the same case, setting a precedent. Even though four of them are Sri Lankans but a popular Tamil sentiment favoured the release of these convicts which is why Tamil political parties supported this and resolutions were passed by different governments in Tamil Nadu to his effect.  Rajiv Gandhi paid the price of sending Indian Peace Keeping Force to Sri Lanka where it got entangled with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and eventually the whole operation ended up is a fiasco.  However, most importantly Sonia and Priyanka Gandhi and probably Rahul too do not have any objections to the release of these convicts. In fact, Sonia Gandhi played an important role in getting the death sentence of the only lady among the convicts Nalini commuted to life term through the Tamil Nadu Governor. Priyanka visited Nalini in Vellore Jail and

Diminishing returns: Hydro projects contribute less than 10% of India's power generation

Counterview Desk  Pointing out that India’s hydro generation remains around 10% for the last six years, the advocacy group South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) has said that power generation from hydropower projects continues to show diminishing returns, as has been the story close to three decades now. Yet, says SANDRP in a note, the Government of India continues to push large hydro by announcing a slew of additional subsidies for hydropower projects, more for political economy reason. In fact, attempts are being made to flog unviable hydropower projects with various kind of manipulations, illegalities and violations, it adds. Text : In last six years, from 2016-17 to 2021-22, India’s large hydropower projects (projects above 25 MW installed capacity) have contributed just around 10% of the total power generation, going as low as 9.68% in 2017-18. In fact, in three of these six years, large hydro contributed less than 10% and recovering only marginally in the rest,

Odisha survey reveals 56% children have not attended any classes post-pandemic

By Our Representative   The Learning Recovery Programme (LRP) has been taken up by the state government's Odisha School Education Programme Authority (OSEPA) to provide a learning opportunity to students to make up for losses in studies due to the closure of schools on account of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, lack of awareness among children and their parents and absence of robust monitoring have blocked its effective implementation, reveals a pilot fact-finding study conducted by the NGO Atmashakti Trust. The pilot study was conducted with school-going children in two blocks of the Nuapada district, where over 500 grassroots workers divided into 33 groups visited 68 schools in one day and interviewed 115 children to understand the implementation of LRP. The study was a part of its 26-day nationwide campaign, "Education Cannot Wait. Act Now!" which kickstarted on November 15, comprising Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, where