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

ISKCON UK 'clarifies' after virus infects devotees, 5 die due to big temple meet

By Rajiv Shah
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), United Kingdom (UK), has admitted that at least 21 of its devotees were infected because of the spread of the coronavirus amongst the UK devotee community following the March 12 funeral and March 15 memorial of the Bhaktivedanta Manor temple president, in which about 1,000 people participated. Regretting that five of the devotees have passed away, the top Hindu religious in Britain body does not deny more may have been infected.

Mallika Sarabhai releases speech she was 'not allowed' to give at NID Convocation on Feb 7

Counterview Desk
The National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry body, landed itself in controversy following its decision to put off its 40th convocation ceremony, where noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai was invited as chief guest. The ceremony was scheduled to be held on February 7.

As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.

Rani Laxmi Bai, Tatya Tope 'martyred' by East India Company, Scindia's forefathers

By Our Representative
In an email alert to Counterview, well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam has said that was “shameful for any political party in democratic India to keep children of Sindhias in their flock” given their role during the First War of Indian Independence (1857). In a direct commentary on Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia moving over to BJP, Prof Islam has quote from a British gazetteer to prove his point.

COVID-19: Dalit rights bodies regret, no relief plan yet for SCs, STs, marginalized

By Our Representative
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, endorsed* by several other Dalit rights organizations, have insisted, the Government of India should particular care of the scheduled castes and tribes, trans folks, persons with disabilities and the women and children from these communities, while fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus scare ‘pushing’ people from Northeast India into more hardship

By Rishiraj Sinha, Biswanath Sinha*
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela
***

Gujarat govt plan to 'banish' Gandhian activist anti-democratic, unconstitutional

By Rohit Prajapati*
The current Central and Gujarat governments, and their bureaucracy, have been and are still unable to answer and address the concerns raised, with facts, figures, and constitutional provisions, regarding the terror of tourism in the name of the Statue of Unity and tourism projects surrounding it.

Gujarat construction workers walk home as Rs 2,900 crore welfare fund lies unused

By Our Representative
Situated behind the Gujarat University, some of the families of the migrant construction workers from Dahod and Panchmahals districts of Gujarat, and a few from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, who had stayed put in make-shift shanties in Ahmedabad’s sprawling GMDC Ground, have begun a long journey, by foot, back to their home villages in the eastern tribal belt of Gujarat.

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.