Invisible Genocide Of The Poor

Linked with Parshuram Rai – Nepal, with the Centre for Environment and Food Security CEF, with Hot Spot of NREGA corruption in Orissa (India),
with Rural Job Scam – Survey Report on Implementation of NREGA in Orissa.

Published on Countercurrents.org, by Parshuram Rai, 08 October, 2007.

… More than 340 million of Indians still go to bed without food every night .Over 10,000 Indians die of hunger every day and about 40 lakh every year. In other words, every 18 months we are inflicting an “invisible genocide” of Nazi scale on our poor and hungry compatriots. Every third hungry person in the world is an Indian and every third Indian goes to bed without food. The number of hungry people in India is always more than the number of people below official poverty line. While around 37% of rural households were below the poverty line in 1993-94, 80% of households suffered undernutrition. Evidence on the consumption of food, on calorie-intake and on nutritional outcomes clearly prove that chronic hunger persists on a mass scale in India.

Shall we still call it hunger deaths or “ invisible genocide” of poor Indians ? This scale of hunger and abject poverty is unconscionable in a fast growing economy with rising number of dollor millionaires. What are the main reasons behind this dehumanizing level of poverty? After 15 years of my research and activism on the issue of hunger and poverty , I find the traditional explanation of poverty in terms of income poverty and poor economy becoming increasingly irrelevant . I find it difficult to disagree with Lord Meghnath Desai when he says that economic poverty in India in inextricably linked to the poverty of politics( read bad governance and corruption).

I have done some back of the envelope calculations about the amount of money required to prevent any Indian going to bed without food .The required amount is not huge. In fact, no Indian should go to bed without food even at the current level of budgetary allocations made under heads of various anti-poverty programmes , if we could just ensure the leakage-proof delivery of the allocated funds to their targeted population.

There are currently four major schemes in operation that essentially aim at fighting hunger and food insecurity; namely,PDS(public distribution system),ICDS (integrated child development scheme), MDM ( mid-day meal scheme) and most importantly NREGS(national rural employment guarantee scheme).There would be very few Indians who would have to skip meals if we could just make these four schemes corruption- free. Therefore, now it is not the poor state of economy or lack of funds that is killing about 40 lakh Indians every year , it is the cancer of corruption that is killing and crippling millions of our compatriots every year. The colonial character of Indian bureaucracy is the single biggest factor behind the epidemic of poverty. The Indian bureaucracy is virtually accountable to none , especially when it comes to the implementation of anti-poverty programmes … (full text).

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