Thursday, September 10, 2009

The irony of Starvation

"When we leave the hotel and walk down the (urine-soaked) street, we get assaulted by auto-rickshaw drivers, by hawkers, by tour guides … and by tiny children pointing to their own mouths. This last one is rough—at least the first few dozen times. Sometimes these kids are part of a scam. They're forced to beg by adults who run panhandling teams. (We've read stories about teams that cut out kids' tongues, to make them seem more pitiable.) But sometimes these kids are just honestly looking for food. Because they're starving. They might eat out of that big garbage pile tonight. Once the dogs are done."
Recently I came across the above mentioned article. The place is neither in Venus or Mars nor in some distant part of the world. This is written by a foreign traveler who came to India for a brief period.

It is different when we talk about poverty and when people actually experiencing it. See the recent UN analysis:
"There are 1.02 billion undernourished people in the world today. That means one in nearly six people do not get enough food to be healthy and lead an active life. Hunger and malnutrition are in fact the number one risk to the health worldwide — greater than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined."

"Each year, almost 11 million children die before reaching the age of five; malnutrition is associated with 53 percent of these deaths (source: Caulfield et al., The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2004 July)"

"An estimated 146 million children in developing countries are underweight - the result of acute or chronic hunger (Source: The State of the World's Children, UNICEF, 2009). This means that 25 percent of all hungry people are children. All too often, child hunger is inherited: up to 17 million children are born underweight annually, the result of inadequate nutrition before and during pregnancy."

"Around 50 per cent of pregnant women in developing countries are iron deficient (source: Unicef). Lack of iron means 315 million women die annually from hemorrhage at childbirth."
Shocking isn't it? But it will be more shocking when we hear that even in the mid of this terrible poverty we are simply wasting lacks of tonnes of food.

Recently, in Taran Taran - a place in Punjab, 5300 tonnes of wheat valuee around 5 crore has rotten due to alleged negligence. What is more shocking is that now its unfit for consumption and auctioned for manufacturing fertilizers. 5300 tonnes of wheat is using for manufacturing fertilizers!!! According to TOI estimate it could feed a people of 30,000 for an entire year. And what this fertilizers will do? Producing more food to waste more?

Millions of people across India and the world didn't have enough to eat 3 times a day; why 3 times; even one time is very difficult and we are simply wasting this food. Reason - absence of warehouses. Yes, we have time for everything, each and everyday the reports of riots are coming in newspapers from some part or another. But we simply don't have time to build warehouses.

Result- Storing the food in open space, using tarpaulins and things like that and result is obvious. Government admitted that 0.62% of countries stock of wheat wasted during transit or due to poor storage in the first two months of this financial year. Don't go by the small percentage, the value is a mind blowing 2.2 lack tonnes of wastage!!! This is about wheat now what about Rice and other things?

Look at the situation of our warehouses. In Orrisa total capacity is 7 Lack tonnes for rice, state government's procurement target is 55 Lack tonnes. Difference = 48 Lack tonnes. where this 48 Lack tonne will go? In Bihar actual capacitiy is 12 Lack tonnes, needed capacity is 48 Lacks. Difference = 36 Lack tonnes. For details (This shows figures only upto 2005). FCI's capacity.

Cant we build some warehouses to store this precious food?


Please read this United Nations World food Program : Statistics

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