Sep 8, 2010

In Shining India, over 5000 children die every day from hunger and malnutrition.


The hungry future

The startling figure still resonates in my memory. Some 25 years back, I remember reading a report in one of the major dailies which said that some 5,000 children die every day in India. Today morning, my attention therefore was automatically drawn to a news report: 1.83 million children die before fifth bithday every year: Report (Indian Express, Sept 8, 2010).

I immediately took out a pen and paper to find out the per day child mortality rate. I wanted to know whether the child mortality rate has come down, and by how much, in the last 25 years or so. My disappointment has grown. The calculations shows that every day 5,013 children are succumbing to malnutrition. Given that a half of all children in India are under-nourished as per the National Family Health Survey III (2005-06), of which over 5,000 die every day I think every Indian needs to hang his/her head in shame.

Globally, 14,600 children die every day. This means that India alone has the dubious distinction of having more than a third of the world's child mortality. This is ironically happening at a time when food is rotting in the godowns.

Yes, India is surely an emerging economic superpower, but building an Empire over hungry stomachs! Mera Bharat Mahaan!! 

A new global report "A fair Chance at Life" by the international child rights organisation Save the Children is not only a damming indictment of the supplementary nutrition programmes that have been running for several decades now, but also is an eye-opener in many ways. While it tells us how hollow the global claims under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are, nationally it shows us the stark hidden realities. A country which doesn't get tired of patting itself in the back for creating an impressive list of 50 billionaires, and off and on does bask under the fictitious glow of Shining India, the dark underbelly remains deliberately hidden from the media glare.

Let us look at what the report says: "Of the 26 million children born in India every year, approximately 1.83 million died before their fifth birthday. “What these aggregate figures do not reveal are the huge inequities in mortality rates across the country, within States and between them, as well as between children in urban and rural areas.”

Half of these children actually die within a month of being born. In other words, nearly 2,500 children of those who die have not even survived for more than a month. This is an indication of not only the inability of the parents to provide adequate nutrition to their new born, but more than that is a reflection of the impoverished condition of the especially the mother. Does it not tell us to what extent poverty and hunger prevails in this country? Do we need to still work out more effective parameters to measure hunger and malnutrition? Do we really need to find a new estimate of people living below the poverty line (BPL)?

Madhya Pradesh tops the list, followed closely by Uttar Pradesh. The under-5 mortality rate in Kerala was 14 deaths per 1000 live births. This stood at a sharp contrast to Madhya Pradesh at 92 per 1000 and 91 per 1000 for Uttar Pradesh.

I am reproducing below a news report from the pages of The Hindu (Sept 8, 2010):

'Children from poorest section 3 times more likely to die before age of 5 than those from high income groups'

Children from the poorest communities are three times more likely to die before they reach the age of 5 than those from high income groups, Save the Children, a non-governmental organisation has said.

In a global report titled A Fair Chance at Life, the organisation said the policy to lower child mortality in India and elsewhere appeared to focus on children from better-off communities, leaving out those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

“The 41 percentage decline in child mortality over the last two decades masks a dangerous expansion of the child mortality gap between the richest and poorest families in India,” Save the Children CEO Thomas Chandy said.

Child mortality is often described as the best barometer of social and economic progress. Despite being one of the fastest growing economies, there has been no visible pattern between per capita income growth and the rate of reduction of child mortality rates. In 2008, 5.3 lakh children under 5 died in the lowest income quintile in comparison to 1.78 lakh among the wealthy quintile. The rate of decline between 2005-06 and 1997-98 among the lowest income quintile is 22.69 per cent, compared to 34.37 per cent among the high income quintile for the same period.

Of the 26 million children born in India every year, approximately 1.83 million died before their fifth birthday. “What these aggregate figures do not reveal are the huge inequities in mortality rates across the country, within States and between them, as well as between children in urban and rural areas,” Mr. Chandy said.

The under-5 mortality rate in Kerala was 14 deaths per 1000 live births. This stood at a sharp contrast to Madhya Pradesh at 92 per 1000 and 91 per 1000 for Uttar Pradesh.

“Every child has the right to survive and the Indian government has an obligation to protect them. Save the Children's research shows that prioritising marginalised and excluded communities, especially in the States lagging behind, is one of the surest ways that India can reduce the number of children dying from easily preventable causes. The National Rural Health Mission, for example, should have a clear focus on social inclusion of Dalits and adivasis in terms of access to healthcare,” he said.

Save the Children's report comes two weeks before a high-level U.N. summit in New York from September 20-22 to assess progress against the Millennium Development Goals.

By demonstrating a political will and the right policies, MDG4 could be achieved in India. The good schemes in place needed to be matched by effective implementation. And there was enough experience in India proving that low-cost interventions can make the difference between life and death for a child, the report said. 

Huge inequity in child mortality rates: Survey
http://www.thehindu.com/news/article617626.ece

7 comments:

Gauri Sharma said...

And yet food grains keep rotting.....Government does not know what to do, with food grains and with starving people/children..wwooowwww...what an irony !

Financial Planning said...

For this we should thanks to Govt, where official are ready to waste Grains in their store, but they don't want it to be served to poor and hungry people who are dying because of hunger.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Devinder.

Whenever I read about children in India dying of malaria, diarrhoea or various childhood diseases, I think that most of these are really due to malnutrition and weakened bodies unable to cope with survivable conditions.

However there is money to be made in vaccines, malaria research, medication, pesticide impregnated nets and apparently not enough in meeting the basic right to food.

Our CHS remedy would be - in India - to restore the forests and common land and enable people to continue to produce for themselves at least- and for others as still over 70% do.

A heartening feature of life in Mumbai for me was the exodus of plumbers, carpenters and other workers from the city at planting and harvesting times. those who had managed to retain their land [and skills] would go home [muluk] and add their labour when most needed - at great inconvenience to the city dwellers and companies for which they worked.

The CHS library contains a wealth of information about traditional expertise - knowledge which some, brought up in exile on the city's shanties or pavements, have never acquired. Subhash Sule continues the work of collecting and passing on such knowledge to those who need it, in the vernacular. He can be contacted via http://www.chs-sachetan.org

Barbara Panvel
UK

Ramesh Dubey said...

आदरणीय देवेंद्र जी अरबपतियों की सर्वाधिक बढ़ती संख्‍या वाले देश में प्रतिदिन 5,000 बच्‍चों की कुपोषण से मौत निश्‍चित रूप से दुर्भाग्‍यपूर्ण है । यह स्‍थिति तब और गंभीर हो जाती है जब एक अनाज खुले में पड़ा सड़ रहा हो और दूसरी और भूख व कुपोषण से मौते हो रही हों । दरअसल बच्‍चों के कुपोषण व मौत के लिए बहुआयामी कारक उत्‍तरदाई हैं । लेकिन देश के (अ)बुद्धिजीवियों का एक बड़ा वर्ग दो रूपये में पैंतीस किलो गेहूं या चावल बांटकर कुपोषण दूर करने का सपना देख रहा है । बच्‍चों व माताओं में ही नहीं बहुसंख्‍यक आबादी को कुपोषण व भुखमरी ने अपने चपेट में ले लिया है तो इसका कारण है कि आज पेट के लिए नहीं अपितु बाजार के लिए खेती हो रही है । पहले किसान विविध फसलें उगाता था । खेत तो दूर उसका कोना-कोना भी विभिन्‍न प्रकार की सब्‍जियों, पशुचारा आदि की फसलों से ढका रहता था । साल भर खेती से कुछ न कुछ होता रहता था । लेकिन जैसे बाजार के लिए खेती की शुरू हुई वैसे ही उन फसलों को प्राथमिकता मिली जिनका बाजार में अच्‍छा मूल्‍य मिलता हो । इस क्रम में दलहन, तिलहन व पौष्‍टिकता से भरपूर मोटे अनाज अनुर्वर व सीमांत भूमियों पर धकेल दिए गए । चूंकि हाथ से काम करना शान के खिलाफ माना जाने लगा इसलिए पशुपालन व सब्‍जियों की खेती छोड़ ही दी गई । पहले जिस गांव के हर घर में एक-दो दुधारू पशु होते थे वहां अब पूरे गांव में एकाध दुधारू पशु ही मिलते हैं । जिनके यहां अधिक दुधारू पशु होते हैं उनके यहां भी दस बजे दिन के बाद दूध के दर्शन ही नहीं होते क्‍योंकि वह समीपवर्ती बाजार में पहुंच जाता है ।
इस प्रकार उगाकर खाने वाला आत्‍मनिर्भर ग्रामीण समाज आयातित खाद्य तेल व दाल तथा साप्‍ताहिक बाजारों में बिकने वाली बासी सब्‍जी खाने पर विवश हुआ । दूध, दही, छाछ, देसी घी तो अब सपने में मिल जाएं वहीं बहुत है । ऐसी परिस्‍थितियों में बच्‍चे, बूढ़े, वयस्‍क सभी कुपोषण का शिकार बनकर तरह-तरह की बीमारियों की चपेट में आ रहे हैं । लेकिन नीति निर्माता व (अ)बुद्धिजीवी कुपोषण की जड़ पर हमला न बोलकर पत्‍ते से इलाज करने में जुटे हुए हैं । लगे रहो मुन्‍ना भाइयों ।

रमेश दुबे

Ramesh Dubey said...

आदरणीय देवेंद्र जी अरबपतियों की सर्वाधिक बढ़ती संख्‍या वाले देश में प्रतिदिन 5,000 बच्‍चों की कुपोषण से मौत निश्‍चित रूप से दुर्भाग्‍यपूर्ण है । यह स्‍थिति तब और गंभीर हो जाती है जब एक अनाज खुले में पड़ा सड़ रहा हो और दूसरी और भूख व कुपोषण से मौते हो रही हों । दरअसल बच्‍चों के कुपोषण व मौत के लिए बहुआयामी कारक उत्‍तरदाई हैं । लेकिन देश के (अ)बुद्धिजीवियों का एक बड़ा वर्ग दो रूपये में पैंतीस किलो गेहूं या चावल बांटकर कुपोषण दूर करने का सपना देख रहा है । बच्‍चों व माताओं में ही नहीं बहुसंख्‍यक आबादी को कुपोषण व भुखमरी ने अपने चपेट में ले लिया है तो इसका कारण है कि आज पेट के लिए नहीं अपितु बाजार के लिए खेती हो रही है । पहले किसान विविध फसलें उगाता था । खेत तो दूर उसका कोना-कोना भी विभिन्‍न प्रकार की सब्‍जियों, पशुचारा आदि की फसलों से ढका रहता था । साल भर खेती से कुछ न कुछ होता रहता था । लेकिन जैसे बाजार के लिए खेती की शुरू हुई वैसे ही उन फसलों को प्राथमिकता मिली जिनका बाजार में अच्‍छा मूल्‍य मिलता हो । चूंकि हाथ से काम करना शान के खिलाफ माना जाने लगा इसलिए पशुपालन व सब्‍जियों की खेती छोड़ ही दी गई । पहले जिस गांव के हर घर में एक-दो दुधारू पशु होते थे वहां अब पूरे गांव में एकाध दुधारू पशु ही मिलते हैं ।
इस प्रकार उगाकर खाने वाला आत्‍मनिर्भर ग्रामीण समाज आयातित खाद्य तेल व दाल तथा साप्‍ताहिक बाजारों में बिकने वाली बासी सब्‍जी खाने पर विवश हुआ । दूध, दही, छाछ, देसी घी तो अब सपने में मिल जाएं वहीं बहुत है । ऐसी परिस्‍थितियों में बच्‍चे, बूढ़े, वयस्‍क सभी कुपोषण का शिकार बनकर तरह-तरह की बीमारियों की चपेट में आ रहे हैं । लेकिन नीति निर्माता व (अ)बुद्धिजीवी कुपोषण की जड़ पर हमला न बोलकर पत्‍ते (विकास दर) से इलाज करने में जुटे हुए हैं । लगे रहो मुन्‍ना भाइयों ।

रमेश दुबे

Anonymous said...

David Kennedy writes:

Devinder Sharma paints a sad picture, but a true one, of India. Nothing changes in this land of change.
Sixty years ago, its leaders were full of hope. A unified land of truth and justice was waiting to be built. It was a land with a socialist dream. Across the world there was a dream of social justice, of a broad equality, of a basic decency in living standards for all people. But the 'cold war' was the enemy of justice. The battle for hearts and minds led to the spread of mass propaganda, and 'equality of opportunity' rather than 'equality' became the watchword. Then came the subversion of the Soviet Union and the end of history. Capitalism reigned supreme. India changed. The socialist dream quickly evaporated. Propaganda was rife. Religion again reared its ugly head flourishing as a force of difference, of separation, of bigotry. Nationalism was encouraged as an antidote to worldwide worker solidarity. Sharing things in common, of caring for one another, of being a single community were replaced by the dogma of individualism, success being measured in the acquisition and accumulation of wealth, no matter the means involved. Only the end was significant. Taxation is seen as evil, a punishment of success for amassing wealth. The poor have only themselves to blame. No one stops them from being a success. No one but they themselves are responsible - and that includes the babies! And so socialism, of sharing and caring for one another, was buried.
Now India flourishes. It is a success! Mera Bharat Mahaan!! The rich are doing well .... the children suffer and the babies die. Nothing changes.

(posted on Countercurrent.org)

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