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

Rushdie, Pamuk, 260 writers tell Modi: Aatish episode casts chill on public discourse

Counterview Desk
As many as 260 writers, journalists, artists, academics and activists across the world, including Salman Rushdie, British Indian novelist, Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature, and Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet and novelist, have called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the decision to strip British Indian writer Aatish Taseer of his overseas Indian citizenship.

Church in India 'seems to have lost' moral compass of unequivocal support to the poor

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
In 2017, Pope Francis dedicated a special day, to be observed by the Universal Church, every year, as the ‘World Day of the Poor’. This year it will be observed on November 17 on the theme ‘The hope of the poor shall not perish for ever’; in a message for the day Pope Francis says:

There may have been Buddhist stupa at Babri site during Gupta period: Archeologist

By Rajiv Shah
A top-notch archeologist, Prof Supriya Varma, who served as an observer during the excavation of the Babri Masjid site in early 2000s along with another archeologist, Jaya Menon, has controversially stated that not only was there "no temple under the Babri Masjid”, if one goes “beyond” the 12th century to 4th to 6th century, i.e. the Gupta period, “there seems to be a Buddhist stupa.”

As fear 'grips' right liberals, Arvind Panagariya, too, would be declared anti-national?

By Rajiv Shah
It is surely well-known by now that India's top people in the power-that-be have been castigating all those who disagree with them as "anti-nationals". Nothing unusual. If till yesterday only "secular liberals", and "left-liberals" were declared anti-national, facts, however, appear to have begun surfacing that, now, guns are being trained against those who could be qualified as right liberals, too. Let me be specific.

'First time' since 1970s poverty up 10%, consumer spending down 4%: GoI survey

By Our Representative
In what may prove to be a major embarrassment for the Government of India (GoI), a new official survey, carried out in 207-18, has reportedly said that average consumer spending in India fell by more than 4% the previous six years "primarily driven by slackening rural demand." The survey, "Key Indicators: Household Consumer Expenditure in India”, carried out by the National Statistical Office (NSO), says that money spent per person in a month fell by 3.7% from Rs 1,501 in 2011-12 to Rs 1,446 in 2017-18.

Hindutva founders 'borrowed' Nazi, fascist idea of one flag, one leader, one ideology

By Shamsul Islam*
With the unleashing of the reign of terror by the RSS/BJP rulers against working-class, peasant organizations, women organizations, student movements, intellectuals, writers, poets and progressive social/political activists, India also witnessed a series of resistance programmes organized by the pro-people cultural organizations in different parts of the country. My address in some of these programmes is reproduced here... 
***  Before sharing my views on the tasks of artists-writers-intellectuals in the times of fascism, let me briefly define fascism and how it is different from totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is political concept, a dictatorship of an individual, family or group which prohibits opposition in any form, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is also described as authoritarianism.
Whereas fascism, while retaining all these repressive characteristics, also believes in god-ordained superiority of race, cultur…

National award winning film 'Hellaro' co-produced by three chartered accountants

By Our Representative
“Hellaro”, a Gujarati feature film produced by Saarthi Productions in association with Harfanmaula Films (Ahmedabad) was declared as the Best Feature Film at the National Film Awards which was conferred by the Government of India. The film also won the Special Jury Award for the Best Actress to all the 13 actresses of the film.
Ashish Patel produced the movie, which has been co-produced three co-producers, Aayush Patel, Prateek Gupta and Mit Jani, all of whom, interestingly, started their filmmaking journey after becoming Chartered Accountants in 2012.
“Hellaro” is directed by Abhishek Shah, who has been working in Gujarati theatre since the past 17 years as writer, director and actor and has received numerous awards for his plays. He has also worked as a casting director for 12 films.
“Hellaro” is a period drama based in Kutch and has been co-written by Abhishek Shah and Prateek Gupta. Gupta previously received the Best Debut Director Award, along with Mit Jan…