Skip to main content

Hunger Watch: 62% of households report incomes lower than pre-lockdown period

By Our Representative

A study carried out by the Right to Food Campaign and the Center for Equity Studies in 11 states has found that even five months after the lockdown has ended, a large number of households report lower levels of income (62%), reduced intake of cereals (53%), pulses (64%), vegetables (73%) and eggs/non-vegetarian items (71%), worsened nutritional quality (71%) and an increased need to borrow money to buy food (45%).
Based on interviews with 3,994 respondents from 11 states (Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Delhi, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal), 2,186 in rural areas and 1,808 in urban areas, the study said, the government support in the form of free rations, and alternatives to school and anganwadi meals in the form of dry rations and/or cash transfers reached more than half the people, which was “crucial”.
However, it regretted, the staggering levels of hunger witnessed during the study – titled Hunger Watch – showed the inadequacy of these schemes. It said, many were left out, and even among those who did get the entitlements, the overall consumption was still lower than what it was before the lockdown.
Of those interviewed, 79% had income less than Rs 7,000 per month and 41% earned less than Rs 3,000 per month before the lockdown. About 59% of the respondents were Dalits/Adivasis, 23% were OBC , 4% were particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs), 64% identified themselves as Hindus, while 20% said they were Muslims.
Then, 55% of the respondents were women, 48% were slum dwellers, 14% were single women headed households and 7% of the respondents had households with a member who was disabled, 45% were daily wage labourers and 18% were farmers.
The study found, 43% of the respondents had no income in April-May. Of these, only about 3% went back to income levels of what it was before the lockdown, while 56% of them continued to have no income in the last 30 days of the study period (September-October). Also, roughly, 62% respondents’ income reduced in September-October compared to the pre-lockdown period, and for about one in four, the income in the last 30 days was half of what it was during the pre-lockdown period. 
While 17% of the respondents consumed eggs/non-veg before the lockdown, among them, 91% said their eggs/meat consumption decreased in September-October
The study found in September-October, 53% reported that their consumption of rice/wheat had decreased, 64% reported their consumption of dal had decreased, and 73% reported that their consumption of green vegetables had decreased. Then, while 17% of the respondents consumed eggs/non-veg ‘often’ before the lockdown, among them, 91% said that their eggs/meat consumption decreased in September-October.
The study said, 56% of the respondents never had to skip meals before the lockdown, but, of them, one in seven had to either skip meals ‘often’ or ‘sometimes’ in the last 30 days, in September-October about 27% respondents sometimes went to bed without eating, and one in 20 households often went to bed without eating.
Pointing towards overall decline in nutritional quality and quantity, the study found, 71% reported that the nutritional quality of food worsened in September-October from what it was before the lockdown. While lower income groups were affected more, 62% of those who earned more than Rs 15,000 per month before lockdown also reported that their nutritional quality worsened in September-October compared to before the lockdown.
The study further found that for 45% of the respondents, the need to borrow money for food increased from the pre-lockdown period. The need to borrow money among Dalits was 23 percentage points more than those in the ‘general’ category, it added.
The study found, one in four Dalits and Muslims report they faced discrimination in accessing food since lockdown, about 12% of Adivasis faced discrimination. This was one in ten among those in the ‘General’ category.
As for quantity of food, among PVTG families, 77% reported reduction in the quantity of food consumption in September-October compared to before lockdown, 54% of the Adivasis reported that their quantity of food consumption decreased, and 69% of OBCs said that their consumption had decreased.
Coming to observations from individual states, the study said, while in Gujarat, the issue of cancellation of ration cards and irregular supply of grains under the Mid Day Meal Scheme was observed, in Maharashtra the nutrition intake suffered and the condition of the urban poor became a matter of concern, as in many cases domestic workers reported that they did receive wages since the lockdown.
In Jharkhand, the study found, there were starvation deaths due to the worsening economic condition and inability to afford even basic foodgrains, noting, the High Court had to take suo motu cognisance of the issue after it was reported that three members of a family from Bokaro district succumbed to hunger and starvation in a span of six months. 
Then, the study said, in Uttar Pradesh, the condition of vulnerable communities like Musahari became precarious. The community collecting chicken feathers for consumption in order to survive. In West Bengal, there were problems faced by people in obtaining ration cards. In Chhattisgarh, the return of migrant labourers resulted in exacerbation of the situation of hunger as the labourers were not enrolled under food security schemes in their home state or where they worked.
In the national capital Delhi, the study said, the poor and marginalised living on rent in slum settlements and the homeless suffered more as they were not covered under the PDS due to not possessing necessary documents like address proof, electricity bill required to apply for a ration card. Only 37% of the population in Delhi got grains under PDS.

Comments

TRENDING

Arrest of Fr Stan Swamy: UN makes public letter seeking explanation from Govt of India

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Government of India (GoI), three senior United Nations (UN) officials – Elina Steinerte, vice-chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Fernand de Varennes, special rapporteur on minority issues – have said that the arrest of veteran activist Father Stan Swamy in October 2020 marks “the escalation of harassment the human rights defender has been subjected to since 2018.”

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Farm laws 'precursor' to free trade deal envisaged by US corporates to allow GMO

By Rajiv Shah Did the Government of India come up with the three farm laws, first rushed by promulgating ordinances in June 2020, to not just open the country’s agricultural sector to the corporate sector but also as a precursor to comply with the requirements of the United States for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as envisaged by the outgoing US president Donald Trump?

Modi govt 'implementing' IMF-envisaged corporate takeover of Indian agriculture

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* The surge of wealth of Indian billionaires and the Modi-led BJP government’s onslaught on poor, marginalised and farmers continue to grow simultaneously as masses face annihilating pandemic of coronavirus. There is 90 % rise of Indian billionaire’s wealth over last one decade. It is not accidental.

Differing from Ambedkar, Kancha Ilaiah holds a 'different' theory of caste system

By Banavath Aravind* I was introduced to Kancha Ilaiah’s work when I was about 20 years old. He was then in the midst of a controversy for a chapter in his book "Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution", which termed the Baniya community as social smugglers. During many of his debates, I had come to notice his undeterred fighting spirit in trying to bring up certain fundamental social issues that were hitherto undiscussed. I eventually came across some of his works and started reading them silently. I’m deliberately stressing upon the word ‘silently’ here, as this was the kind of silence particularly associated with sensitive social issues like caste, religion, etc. But, as I write this essay, I feel silences on sensitive issues should be broken. Ilaiah opened up an entirely new debate that had the vigour and strength to counter the systemic Brahmanism. His methods of research were also novel in terms of going back to the roo

New trend? Riots 'expanded' to new rural areas post-2002 Gujarat carnage: Report

A VHP poster declaring a Gujarat village part of Hindu Rashtra  By Rajiv Shah  Buniyaad, a Gujarat-based civil society organization, engaged in monitoring of communal violence in the state, in a new report, “Peaceful Gujarat: An Illusion or Truth?” has said that a “new trend” has come about in communal violence in the state, where the parts of Gujarat which didn't see communal riots in 2002 are experiencing “regular bouts” of communal violence.

Fr Stan's arrest figures in UK Parliament: Govt says, Indian authorities were 'alerted'

London protest for release of Stan Swamy  By Rajiv Shah Will Father Stan Swamy’s arrest, especially the fact that he is a Christian and a priest, turn out to be major international embarrassment for the Government of India? It may well happen, if a recent debate on a resolution titled “India: Persecution of Minority Groups” in the United Kingdom (UK) Parliament is any indication. While Jesuits have protested Fr Stan's arrest in UK and US, the resolution, adopted in the Parliament, said, “This House has considered the matter of persecution of Muslims, Christians and minority groups in India”.

A new fad in India, coding-for-toddlers culture needs to be 'nipped' in the bud

By Aditya Pandey* We are all aware of the dire consequences of subjecting young kids to intense academic pressure from an early age. In India, we have coaching institutes like FIITJEE and Resonance offering programmes for 6th standard kids to prepare them for “NTSE, IJSO, PRMO and other Olympiads”. The duration of these programmes is around 175 hours – hours that could've been spent playing games and making friends instead.

More than 5,200 Gujarat schools to be closed down, merged, says govt document

RTE Forum, Gujarat, releasing fact-sheet on education By Our Representative A Gujarat government document has revealed that it is planning to close down 5,223 schools in the name of school merger. The document, dated July 20, 201 was released by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Gujarat. It shows that the worst-affected districts because of this merger are those which are populated by marginalized communities – especially tribals, Dalits and minorities, said RTE Forum’s Gujarat convener Mujahid Nafees.

Consumption pattern, not economic shock behind 'poor' child health indicators

By Neeraj Kumar, Arup Mitra* The findings of the latest round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-20 covering 22 States/UTs under Phase-I  present a somewhat disappointing picture of children’s health in India. Majority of the experts, based on prima facie evidence, just highlighted the deteriorating sign of child health in terms of increase in proportion of stunted and underweight children in most of the phase-I states/UTs over last two rounds of NFHS (2015-16 to 2019-20).