New Delhi. Heralding a new era in public-private partnership, Planning Commission has decided to partner with fast-food restaurant chain McDonald’s in an attempt to remove poverty from India. McDonalds will soon give employment to a poor Indian and pay him one McAloo Tikki™ in kind, which costs at least 20 rupees even during Happy Hours, thus meeting the threshold set by the Planning Commission to identify urban poor.
As per the agreement between the government and the fast-food restaurant chain, McDonald’s will be given a list people living below poverty line in the vicinity of an outlet, and the restaurant will then employ them gainfully for a salary of one McAloo Tikki™ a day. Since the market price of one such Tikki is at least 20 rupees, the employee would thus no longer remain poor in the eyes of the government.
“Anyone not earning even 20 rupees a day is surely quite hungry. We can easily give such a person a job of cleaning the leftovers,” a McDonald’s official said, “We get a lot of urban rich at our outlets who order more than they can eat.”
“But India is not US; even the government here has clarified it many times recently,” the official pointed out.
But the government has dismissed such issues as teething problems and hopes to kick off the partnership in other cities soon. Post this arrangement, government is hopeful of bringing down the number of urban poor to levels matched by those in developed countries, thus paving the way for India to become an economic superpower.
he nutritional status of the poor in India maybe described as alarming.
Most of the indicators of nutrition status such as adult weights, heights BMI, percentage of children who are severely malnourished, mean birth weights, infant mortality rates, dietary intakes and unacknowledged starvation deaths confirm this fact. Hunger is as widespread as it is invisible to the scientific eye. The question that must be asked is how did India get into this trap of under nutrition with such serious consequences?
Chronic hunger as it exists in India can be largely traced to the rapid scientific advances in the area of food and nutrition analysis, and classification. In addition, from 1940s, the dietary requirements of populations was laid out in terms of calories, with the assumption that foods which are culturally and regionally appropriate such as rice, eggs, milk, fowl, pulses, fish, greens, etc. would be consumed in quantities which would provide calories and all the other nutrients. Nutrition research in the 50s and 60s, though brilliantly innovative and deeply committed to the welfare of Indians, simplified the science of food further, with indices and correction factors, using concepts like consumption units, biological value of proteins, RDA based on calories, calorie needs of workers, vegetable sources of proteins etc., which then became subjects for scientific research and fed into nutritional policy. Over a short period, these concepts were recast and deployed in administrative initiatives that systematically transformed the diets of the poor in India to plain cereals as the major source, or perhaps the only source of calories, devoid of any other nutrient. The consequences of this cereal overload and nutritional depletion have been far reaching, and are responsible for a large measure of the profile of ill health, and the epidemic of chronic diseases in India.
This presentation is an attempt to trace the steps in scientific and administrative thinking and policy that led to the nutritional and health impasse the people of this country are in.
The speaker is Dr. Veena Shatrugna who has spent 34 years at the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, doing research on the nutrition questions as they impact women and children in India. She has also worked in the area of women’s health, and has authored “Savaa laksha Sandhehalu”, a self%help book for women in Telugu with a women’s collective called Stree Shakti Sangathana. She has also written “Taking charge of our Bodies” in English with the same group of women. She is a member of Anveshi, a Women’s studies organisation based in Hyderabad.
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Growing a Better Future catalogues the symptoms of today’s broken food system and warns that we have entered a new age of crisis where depletion of the earth’s natural resources and increasingly severe climate change impacts will create millions more hungry people.
The global food system works only for the few – for most of us it is broken. It leaves the billions of us who consume food lacking sufficient power and knowledge about what we buy and eat and the majority of small food producers disempowered and unable to fulfil their productive potential.
The failure of the system flows from failures of government – failures to regulate, to correct, to protect, to resist, to invest – which mean that companies, interest groups, and elites are able to plunder resources and to redirect flows of finance, knowledge, and food.
This report describes a new age of growing crisis: food price spikes and oil price hikes, devastating weather events, financial meltdowns, and global contagion. Behind each of these, slow-burn crises smoulder: creeping and insidious climate change, growing inequality, chronic hunger and vulnerability, the erosion of our natural resources.
Based on the experience and research of Oxfam staff and partners around the world and, Growing a Better Future shows how the food system is at once a driver of this fragility and highly vulnerable to it, and why in the twenty-first century it leaves 925 million people hungry.
The report presents new research forecasting price rises for staple grains in the range of 120–180 per cent within the next two decades, as resource pressures mount and climate change takes hold.
Growing a Better Future supports a new campaign with a simple message: another future is possible, and we can build it together.
Author: Robert Bailey
Publication date: 31 May 2011
India is home to a quarter of the world’s hungry people. Since the Green Revolution, the country has produced enough food to feed itself, but it has not yet been able to wipe out mass hunger. Currently, 40 per cent of the population is malnourished – a decline of only 10 per cent in the past three decades.
Stellar economic growth has not delivered on its promise for poverty reduction and food security. Following a series of neoliberal economic reforms in 1991, India’s GDP has doubled, but despite this, 53 million more people now go to bed hungry every night.
To make matters worse, food prices have recently soared. Poor families, who spend more than 60 per cent of their incomes on food, are increasingly struggling to stretch their meagre household budgets.
Unfortunately, small-scale producers have not benefited from high retail prices for food either, as they usually low prices for their produce. Clearly, the country is in the midst of both an agrarian crisis and a nutrition crisis.
Oxfam International Case Study
Author: Swati Narayan, Independent food and education policy specialist
Submitted by editor on Sat, 10/25/2008 – 18:27
India today is on the brink of a protracted recession. Almost every economic indicator in the country is putting immense pressure on all economic activities in the country and painting a gloomy picture of our economy. Inflation is in high double digits, GDP growth rate is faltering, Industrial growth rate has touched a record low of 1.3 percent and the growth of our agriculture sector has turned bad to worse.
Declining capital formation and steep reduction in public investment in agriculture sector during the UPA rule has led to a complete stagnation of Agricultural growth in India. In other words the UPA Government has proved to be a big disaster on the economic front.
Agriculture is considered a recession proof sector as it does not face decline in demand even in a worsening situation. Being a predominantly agrarian society, India has the potential and resources to deal with any challenge posed by recessionary atmosphere in the world.
Eminent thinkers and economists around the world have started chalking out detailed action plans for agriculture and predicted that food security will be the top agenda of all the Governments in future. It clearly indicates that the world is now awakening to the growing importance of strengthening agriculture sector but the UPA Government’s slumber has deepened further.
By pursuing disoriented and confused economic policies the UPA Government has jeopardized our national food security. No wonder, India’s record on hunger today is worse than that of nearly 25 sub-Saharan African countries and all of South Asia, except Bangladesh.
The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)’s 2008 Global Hunger Index says that with over 200 million people insecure about their daily bread, Indian scenario is ‘alarming’ in terms of hunger and malnutrition.
According to the World Development Report, “To reduce poverty and hunger, the growth of the agricultural sector is the only solution.” But the higher cost of production without a corresponding increase in prices has made agriculture a non viable profession in India.
In the absence of remunerative prices, coupled with lack of timely, affordable and adequate credit and high interest rates have forced the helpless farmer either to quit farming or to commit suicide. More than five thousand farmers committed suicide in different parts of the country.
The Prime Minister’s ‘Vidarbha Package’ for the farmers has failed to address the key issues. The farmer’s loan waiver scheme also met the same fate as it left majority of the farmers agitated and disgruntled.
Both these schemes have proved to be a cruel joke on farmers and the Congress led UPA Government will have to pay a heavy price for it in forthcoming assembly elections and the General Elections scheduled next year.
The UPA Government has remained unconcerned over the gravity of the situation and adopted a casual approach while dealing with a sensitive subject like Agriculture.
I am happy to note that the BJP ruled states have performed better than the Congress led Governments on the agriculture front.
We have the shining example of Gujarat State before us which registered a remarkable 13 percent growth in agriculture in comparison to meager national agriculture growth of nearly 1.8 percent.
After coming to power the BJP led NDA Government will introduce a paradigm shift in agriculture where it will synthesise the old and the new, and focus on the economics of small land holdings.
The BJP will increase the quantum of public investment in agriculture and mandate banks to earmark 30% of their total loans for credit to the agriculture sector. We will take immediate steps to see that the farmers be given loans at not more than 4% interest for agriculture and allied activities.
The NDA Government at the Centre will implement the recommendations of the National Commission on Farmers and assure the farmer of actual cost of production plus 50% over and above this cost as the MSP for his produce.
BJP led NDA Government will also implement Farm Income Insurance Scheme to ensure guaranteed income to all farmers in the country.
India facing economic terrorism
UPA Government’s soft and weak-kneed approach to deal with terrorist activities is a fact well known. Unfortunately the issue of internal security which warrants national consensus among all political major political parties and other prominent stake holders in our society has become a casualty of UPA Government’s vote bank politics.
During the 42 months of UPA rule terrorists and anti-India forces have galvanised its cadres and gained strength to strike India anywhere, anytime and at will. They have developed a multi-pronged strategy to damage India at every possible level. Recently we have witnessed a big surge in circulation of fake Indian currency notes in the country. It is well thought strategy of anti-India forces to unleash economic terrorism in the country.
Pakistan’s intelligence agency the ISI has pumped in counterfeit currency worth billions of Rupees into India through Bangladesh and Nepal borders. According to recent estimates by a Government panel, fake currency worth 1 lakh 69 thousand crores Rupees are already in circulation.
Fake currency notes have been recently confiscated in many States. Even at the branches of the Nationalised banks and their ATM’s fake currency notes have been confiscated. Counterfeit currency is being used to fund terrorist operations. I urge the present dispensation at the Centre to take effective steps to plug the supply of fake currency notes in India.
The BJP demands the Government that it should come out with a white paper on circulation of fake currency in India.
BS Reporter / New Delhi October 15, 2008, 0:31 IST
Madhya Pradesh, which reported deaths of malnourished children last month, has the most severe level of hunger in the country and ranks between African countries Ethiopia and Chad, according to a global hunger index released today by the International Food Policy Research Institute in conjunction with Welthungerhilfe (formerly known as German Agro-Action) and the University of California, Riverside.
MP is followed by Jharkhand and Bihar, according to the first-ever India State Hunger Index, which was released along with the global index. Punjab and Kerala scored the best.
The Indian state hunger index analyses hunger levels in 17 major states and scores range from “serious” to “extremely alarming”. It measures hunger on three leading indicators and combines them into one index. The three indicators are prevalence of child malnutrition, rates of child mortality and the proportion of people who are calorie deficient.
The index for India found that not a single state in India fell in the “low hunger” or “moderate hunger” categories. Twelve states fall in the “alarming” category, and one state — Madhya Pradesh — falls in the “extremely alarming” category. Four states — Punjab, Kerala, Haryana and Assam — fall in the ‘serious‘ category.