Tackling Hunger in India

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  • 1. Tackling Hunger in India: Prospects and Challenges Biraj Patnaik Principal Adviser Office of the Commissioners to the Supreme Court (Right to Food Case) www.sccommissioners.org
  • 2. Hunger Map IFPRI 2009
  • 3. Underweight Children: A Severe Problem in South Asia
  • 4.
  • 5. NFHS The underweight prevalence (children under age 5) varied from 60% in Madhya Pradesh to 20 % in Mizoram
  • 6. Progress in reducing child malnutrition has been uneven
    • Improvements in 16 states
    • Largest improvements:
    • 2005-06 1998-99 % diff.
    • Orissa 44.0 54.4 10.4
    • Maharashtra 39.7 49.6 9.9
    • Chhattisgarh 52.1 60.8 8.7
    • HP 36.2 43.6 7.4
    • Rajasthan 44.0 50.6 6.6
  • 7. Situation worsens in 13 states
    • 2005-06 1998-99 % diff.
    • Assam 40.4 36.0 -4.4
    • Jharkhand 59.2 54.3 -4.9
    • MP 60.3 53.5 -6.8
    • Haryana 41.9 34.6 -7.3
    Also in Bihar, Gujarat and Kerala
  • 8.
    • Food availability
    • Nutrient in-take
    • Seasonality of food and water
    • Nutrition and health education
    • Absence of community workers/ANMs/Nurses
    • Non-access to cheap medicines
    • Diarrhoea, dysentery, fever, malaria
    • Non-availability of health services-SHC/PHC/CHC
    • Immunization / ANC / PNC/ emergency care
    • Low institutional delivery
    HIGH MALNUTRITION
    • Low Birth Weight Babies
    • Early marriage and pregnancy
    • Non-spacing/anaemia among women
    • Weak public health measures
    • Malaria, Water
    • Infections, Diseases
    • Sanitation
    • Cultural practices
    • Breast feeding
    • Food consumption during pregnancy
    • Unsafe and unclean deliveries
    Why high Malnutrition
  • 9.
    • India has the highest underweight children among the BRIC and SAARC countries
    • Reasons: Inadequate access to food+ Lack of education of mother + Poor sanitation + Unsafe drinking water
    • Underweight children
    Nutrition: Very high percentage of underweight children - Even compared to SAARC countries (HDR 2011)
  • 10.
    • Among industrial states, Gujarat has a high incidence of malnutrition among SC and ST women .
    • In spite of high economic growth Gujarat fares the worst in terms of overall hunger index among high per-capita income states.
    • It ranked 13 out of 17 major states in hunger index, below Orissa, UP, WB, and Assam etc.
    Economic Growth versus Malnutrition Reduction (HDR 2011)
  • 11. Open defecation - serious threat to health & nutritional status (HDR 2011)
    • Improvement in households with access to sanitation facilities from 40 % in 2002 to 51 % in 2008-9
      • Large inter state variations
        • Less than 2% hhs in Delhi lacked access to toilet facility compared to 79% in Orissa
  • 12. Legal Action on the Right to Food
    • Initiated in 2001 following a PIL filed in the Supreme Court by People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) asking for the Right to Food to be made a fundamental right.
    • The case has emerged as the longest continuing mandamus in the world on the Right to Food.
    • So far, more than 70 interim orders have been passed in this case .
  • 13. Outcomes so far
    • Mainstreamed discourse on the Right to Food in India
    • Principle of universal entitlements established with the universalisation of the Mid Day Meal and ICDS programmes
    • Conditions created for enactment of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act
    • Supreme Court orders help to convert 9 food and employment schemes into legal entitlements that are justiciable
    • Supreme Court orders result in massive increases in budget allocations for all the nine schemes
  • 14. Distinctive features
    • Special focus on creating specific entitlements for marginalised groups such as the urban homeless, single women and persons with disabilities by.
    • Supreme Court sets up The Supreme Court Commissioners office as an independent oversight body, outside of Government
    • Supreme Court orders result in massive increases in budget allocations for all the nine schemes
  • 15. The National Food Security Act
  • 16. Imperatives for legislating the Right to Food
    • Moral Imperative
    • (High growth and yet hunger and malnutrition persist alongside poor social indicators)
    • Political Imperative
    • ( Legislature vs.Judiciary )
    • “ Electoral” imperative
    • ( Anti-incumbency in the context of the 2009 General and State Elections )
  • 17. Key elements proposed by Civil Society as the framework for the NFSA?
    • Offer legislative sanction to legal entitlements
    • Strengthen existing programmes.
    • Create new sets of entitlements for very marginalised groups and vulnerable communities.
    • Establish independent monitoring institutions empowered to redress grievances effectively (including punitive legal action)
    • Strengthen the “protect” and “respect” elements of the Right to Food including protection of livelihoods and production issues.
  • 18. Issues and Challenges
    • 1. Universal or targeted?
      • Should the Act be applicable only to BPL families as currently envisaged?
    • Food or Food plus?
      • Vision of the Food Ministry about the Act is restricted to provisioning of 25 kgs of food grains at Rs.3 per kg ONLY for BPL families
      • Government does not recognize nutrition as a capability contingent on factors other than just provisioning of subsidised food .
      • Food alone is not sufficient; need more things to be in place
    • Is it affordable?
      • What are the financial implications?
      • How will the entitlement be financed?
    • Will it see the light of day?
      • No ownership by key institutions including the PMO and the Planning Commission.
      • Lack of consensus within civil society.
      • Unlikely to attain convergence of schemes operated by five Ministries
  • 19. Thank you