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

'Halt Covid-19 vaccination drive': Indian doctors join campaign across 36 nations

By Rosamma Thomas*  A group of Spanish doctors first got together to call for a halt to the Covid-19 vaccinations, and doctors from other countries too later joined them – there are now over 12,000 doctors from India, Portugal, Canada, Hungary, South Africa, Israel and a host of other nations who have issued a call to halt vaccinations. On September 10, a group of Indian doctors came together to address the press over a webinar to explain why they thought the vaccination drive should end forthwith. Dr Amitav Banerjee, who after a career as an epidemiologist in the Indian Army now teaches at a private medical college in Pune, said there was no longer a medical emergency. Children are at low risk of infection, and there is good reason to halt vaccination and conduct proper research, given the high number of adverse events. There is a sudden and poorly explained spike in the number of young and healthy people dying. While it may be impossible to attribute deaths entirely to the vaccinatio

Did Mother Teresa trivialise poverty? 'You are suffering, that means Jesus is kissing you'

By Harsh Thakor*  The world commemorated the 25th death anniversary of Mother Teresa on September 5. Whatever her flaws, she rendered service to humanity in regions almost untranscended, resembling the relentless spirit of the waves of an ocean. Irrespective of community or religion, she offered her service. Even those not drawn by sainthood revere the role of Mother Teresa. For 68 years, she had worked selflessly and tirelessly in India and elsewhere in the world, taught the destitute, healed the sick, fed and clothed the poor, cared for abandoned children, housed lepers and those afflicted with HIV/AIDS and offered dignity in death to desolate persons abandoned by family and society. Mother Teresa was born in Skopje in 1910 to an Albanian family as AnjezĂ« Gonxhe Bojaxhiu. She became wedded to religious vows at an early age and moved to India to join the missionary work of the Catholic Church. Heartshaken by the misery faced by the Indian masses, in 1950 she set up her own

Tracing roots of Hindutva Zionism: cannon fodder for 'warped' nationalist pretensions

By Shamsul Islam*  Those who believe in a world free of hegemonic ethno-nationalism, racism, religious bigotry and hatred have rightly taken note of Zionism and its ally Christian Zionism, major perpetrators of ethnic cleansing of ‘Others’. However, the civilized world with its core belief in multi-culturalism and peaceful co-existence is oblivious to a no less dangerous threat to the present human civilization: the Hindutva Zionism. As the term reads it is part of the Hindutva world-view which stands for an exclusive Hindu India minus Muslims and Christians. The other religions like Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism will have no independent status but treated as part of Hinduism. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS; National Volunteer Organization) is the most prominent flag-bearer of the Hindutva politics whose cadres presently rule India, the largest democracy in the world. RSS was founded by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar (1889-1940) in 1925 who was disillusioned with the Indian freedom st

Regional parties, anti-Congress progressives, civil society groups 'joining' Bharat Jodo

By Harshavardhan Purandare, Sandeep Pandey*  The Congress party declared Bharat Chhodo (Quit India) movement against the British regime in 1942. The Congress party has now launched a movement Bharat Jodo (Connecting and Uniting India) against the Modi regime in 2022. Indian people have had a journey of 80 years since Mahatma Gandhi gave that Quit India call to the British and we have to agree that we stand most divided in our modern history when Rahul Gandhi is giving this Bharat Jodo call to the nation. And back then, Congress was a thriving idealistic political movement against the British rulers and now it is an ever weakening political organization electorally defeated several times. However, it is India at stake, not just the Congress party. That is why so many regional political parties, civil society organizations, traditional anti-Congress progressive forces like socialists and communists, intellectuals and civil servants have declared their support and are proactively partici

Shocking? No Covid vaccine trials conducted on pregnant, lactating women: RTI reply

By Rosamma Thomas*  A Right to Information applicant who sought details of safety trials conducted in India on pregnant and lactating women for three Covid vaccines in use in India – Covishield, Covaxin and ZyCov-D -- was shocked to learn from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) that Serum Institute, manufacturer of Covishield, and Cadila Healthcare, manufacturer of the ZyCov-D vaccine, had not sought permission for such trials.  Bharat Biotech, manufacturer of Covaxin, had sought permission for trial on pregnant women and later withdrawn its application. This response , provided after the applicant was initially unsatisfied with the response and went in appeal, is from the joint drugs controller, CDSCO. It was dated September 13, 2022. One researcher closely following the vaccine rollout, however, is of the opinion that the lack of a trial on pregnant and lactating women is a blessing; potential trial participants and their unborn babies thus escaped harm. Aruna Ro

Grave error? Scholar blames ex-Gujarat babu for anti-Christian riots 'citing fake report'

By Rajiv Shah  A few days back, I received a message from one of the finest former Gujarat government bureaucrats, PG Ramrakhiani, a 1964 batch IAS official, who retired in November 2000. I would often interact with him in 1997-99, even later, after I was sent to Gandhinagar as a Times of India man to cover Sachivalaya. Those were turbulent times. Shankarsinh Vaghela was the Gujarat chief minister, under attack from two sides – from the BJP, which he had left to form a separate breakaway party, Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), one one hand, and the Congress, which was supporting him from outside, on the other. Ramrakhiani, in his message, referred to the book authored by Ghanshyam Shah and Jan Breman, both top-notch scholars who have known Gujarat in and out. Called “Gujarat, Cradle and Harbinger of Identity Politics: India’s Injurious Frame of Communalism”, I reviewed the book in January 2022.  It claims that Muslims in Gujarat have been turned into “new untouchables”, thanks to the Hin

Excess to cheetah in Kuno to increase 'woes' of local people, 'disturb' wildlife balance

Bharat Dogra*  The release of eight cheetahs into the Kuno National Park ( Madhya Pradesh) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 17, although accompanied by a media blitz, has raised several questions. The animals were flown from Namibia to Gwalior and from there they were taken to the release site in a helicopter. Official sources have stated that this is the first time a large carnivorous species has been moved across continents for establishing a new population. This first release will be followed by others under this project. However, precisely for this reason, it is important to be cautious because if such translocations have been generally avoided in the past, there may have been reasons for this and at the same time we do not have much learning experiences from the past. The Cheetah became extinct in India in 1952, although this very fast moving animal is still remembered in the folklore of many areas. Hence the first impulse is to say that trying to introduce and revive

Introducing non-native cheetahs is 'not equivalent' to restoring pride in the nation

By Bappaditya Mukhopadhyay*  The Cheetahs from the African continent has finally been introduced to India by the Indian Prime Minister on his 72nd birthday. The process had started with the previous Government in 2009. However, the Supreme Court clearance was pending owing to the objection by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) plea to reintroduce cheetahs. Finally the clearance was obtained in January 2020 and thereafter Kuno National Park (KNP) was chosen for the reintroduction of first set of Southeast African Cheetahs. In the near future, depending upon the success story of the current reintroduction, more cheetahs from South Africa may also be introduced. This exercise has generated a lot of interest among various stakeholders with opinions on both sides galore. It is important to pose some questions that surround the whole exercise. Let us evaluate some of these arguments. The first set of arguments are quite detached from the issues of conservation as they most

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".

'Military diplomacy': US praises Bangladesh Army for leadership role in UN operations

By Kamal Uddin Mazumder* As the Indo-Pacific region represents the world’s economic and strategic center of gravity, the Indian Ocean today is becoming the centerpiece of all geo-strategic play. Cooperation in the region is crucial to implementing the international community’s global agenda, including achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Major powers like the US have enhanced and deepened their strategic engagement and leadership roles with countries in the region. The Indo-Pacific Army Management Seminar, or IPAMS, is a U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) initiated conference that is aimed at facilitating and enhancing interactions among the armies of the Indo-Pacific region. This year's 46th Indo-Pacific Armies Management Seminar (IPAMS)-2022, co-hosted by the Bangladesh Army and US Army Pacific (USARPAC), concluded in Dhaka. The objective of IPAMS is to promote peace and stability in the region through mutual understanding, dialogue, and friendship. It is the largest confer