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

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.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

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".

Tax buoyancy claims when less than 4% Indian dollar millionaires pay income tax

By Prasanna Mohanty  In FY18, the last year for which disaggregated income tax data is available, only 29,002 ITRs declared income above Rs 5 crore, while Credit Suisse said India had 7.25 lakh dollar millionaires (the wealth equivalent of Rs 8 crore and above) that year. Often enough, the Centre claims that demonetization in 2016 raised tax collections, improved tax efficiency, and expanded the tax base. Now RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Ashima Goyal has also joined their ranks, attributing the “claims” of rising tax collections in the current fiscal year to “tax buoyancy” brought by the demonetisation . Do such claims have any basis in official records? The answer is unequivocal. The budget documents show the tax-to-GDP ratio (direct plus indirect tax) increased from 10.6% in FY16 (pre-demonetization) to 11.2% in FY17, remained there in FY18 (demonetization and GST fiscals), and then fell to 9.9% in FY20. In FY22, it improved to 10.8% and is estimated to drop to 10.7% in

Gandhian unease at Mahadev Desai book launch: Sabarmati Ashram may lose free space

By Rajiv Shah  A simmering apprehension has gripped the Gandhians who continue to be trustees of the Sabarmati Ashram: the “limited freedom” to express one’s views under the Modi dispensation still available at the place which Mahatma Gandhi made his home from 1917 to 1930 may soon be taken away. Also known as Harijan Ashram, a meeting held for introducing yet-to-be-released book, “Mahadev Desai: Mahatma Gandhi's Frontline Reporter”, saw speaker and after speaker point towards “narrowing space” in Gujarat for Gandhians (as also others) to express themselves. Penned by veteran journalist Nachiketa Desai, grandson of Mahadev Desai, while the book was planned to be released on January 1 and the meeting saw several prominent personalities, including actor-director Nandita Das, her scholar-mother Varsha Das, British House of Lords member Bhikhu Parekh, among others, speak glowingly about the effort put in for bringing out the book, exchanges between speakers suggested it should be rele

Why no information with Assam state agency about female rhino poaching for a year?

By Nava Thakuria   According to official claims, incidents of poaching related to rhinoceros in various forest reserves of Assam in northeast India have decreased drastically. Brutal laws against the poachers, strengthening of ground staff inside the protected forest areas and increasing public awareness in the fringe localities of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the State are the reasons cited for positively impacting the mission to save the one-horned rhinos. Officials records suggest, only two rhinos were poached in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve since 1 January 2021 till date. The last incident took place probably in the last week of December 2021, as a decomposed carcass of a fully-grown (around 30 years old) female rhino was recovered inside the world-famous forest reserve next month. As the precious horn was missing, for which the gigantic animal was apparently hunted down, it could not be a natural death. Ironically, however, it was not confirmed when

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Bangladesh 'rights violations': US softens stance, fears increased clout of China, India

By Tilottama Rani Charulata*  In December 2021, in addition to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the United States imposed sanctions on seven former and current officers of the force, alleging serious human rights violations. Benazir Ahmed and former RAB-7 commander Miftah Uddin Ahmed were banned from entering the US. RAB as an institution was also canceled the support it was getting from the US and its allies. At the same time, those under the ban have been notified of confiscation of assets held abroad. The anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police, RAB is the elite force consisting of members of the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force, Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh Civil Service and Bangladesh Ansar, and has been criticized by rights groups for its use of extrajudicial killings and is accused of forced disappearances. The government of Bangladesh has been insisting about lifting the ban on RAB, but the US had till recen