India to face a chronic state of famine: Binayak Sen

India to face a chronic state of famine: Binayak Sen

By SiliconIndia   |   Tuesday, 31 May 2011, 12:35 Hrs   |    5 Comments
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India to face a chronic state of famine: Binayak Sen
Bangalore: Malnutrition has been a major concern in India and its raising levels is something to worry about along with the problem of hunger in India.

"Large sections of the Indian population are in a chronic state of famine today. This is a shocking revelation which has major implications on the health of our nation." said Binayak Sen, an Indian pediatrician, public health specialist and human rights activist.

A UN report in 2008 had revealed that India is progressing well in education and showing consistency in economic growth but its progress is getting downplayed due to poor child health conditions. India has reached 2012 however the state has not changed much.

Today 47 percent of the children aged below five are underweight and are malnourished under considerations of weight for age. One-third of our newborns are malnourished at birth. Sen pointed out that malnourishment at birth contributed significantly to problems during adult life.

About 2,500 poverty stricken children in India die every day due to malnutrition. This figure was brought to the notice of Supreme Court in a case in April 2011. Around 8.8 lakh children die every year due to malnutrition of the total child deaths of 17.8 lakh. In India, 2.4 crore children are born each year of which 17.8 lakh die because of different reasons before they cross the age of five, of these 46 percent die due to malnutrition.

Famines in India are due to the failure of the crops, and that the crops are cut off by the sudden droughts which sweep over the entire country; but when in Southern India alone, six million went through starvation in a year, which actually implicates that the reasons are much deeper beneath the surface and the government needs to address these issues.

Binayak pointed out that the Body Mass Index (BMI), which signifies the nutritional status, was low in many communities. A BMI below 18.5 is indicative of chronic under-nutrition. According to the data published by the National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau of the National Institute of Nutrition, the BMI of 37 percent of India's total adult population is below 18.5, the index was below 18.5 for 50 percent of the adult population in Scheduled Tribes and for 60 percent of the adult population in Scheduled Castes.

According to the Sachar committee report, huge group of the minority community have a BMI below 18.5 and the World Health Organisation says that if more than 40 percent of any community has a BMI below 18.5, then that community should be considered a community in famine.

"Hefty sections of malnourished population were surviving because of access to common property resources and now they are being removed by the governments in power from accessing common property resources," said Binayak Sen.

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Reader's comments(5)
1: Strict rules n laws should be implemented by the medical association and the health ministry that couples who do not have a regular income or wages to take care of another member in the family by giving birth should be legalised.The biggest sin is giving birth to children by couples when they cannot even meetup with their day to day meals.Giving birth to children and they die of malnutrition or health hazards or forcing them to beg are major crimes committed by the couples.Awareness programmes are of no use on child birth and conception.It is the worst sin to make suffer kids suffer than foeticide(killing the foetus inside the womb.Severe punishment should be given to those who couples instead of asking the government to feed the millions and billions.Those who lost their parents and orphans are being fed by different NGOs and institutions like akshayapatra in our country.It is our duty to have an awareness before we bring in more members to the society that we are responsible for the sufferings they face in future.Famine,drought and other natural calamities are unexpected events where all citizens are collectively responsible to help them live in this society.
Posted by:nairshree - 01 Jun, 2011
2: I am not sure what to comment here ! It's very sad and painful!
Posted by:Prem - 01 Jun, 2011
3: Politicians are busy making money for themselves ... Who cares about poor people.
Posted by:shruti - 01 Jun, 2011
Why are we always pointing fingers at politicians and governments.All of us can individually contribute to this.All countries have this kind of problems.Famine,drought etc are all unexpected seasonal causes for which only rehabilitation and awareness can be the only solution.For this kind of population explosion why blame the government?
nairshree Replied to: shruti - 01 Jun, 2011
well said Shruthi, what are your plans in contributing to them?
Venu Replied to: shruti - 01 Jun, 2011