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News in frames | Hungry nation

India is ranked 101 among 116 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI), 2021. The country continues to be in the severe-hunger category. The GHI report said that wasting “weight for height” among children in India increased from 17.1% between 1998 and 2002 to 17.3% between 2016 and 2020.

The hunger problem has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

People who used to go for work as migrant wage labour are stuck in their villages. Weekly bazaars in the villages were not functional during the lockdown, causing loss of livelihood. People living in villages in the forests can’t do farming in the forest land.

The constant state of hunger can lead to different morbidities and subsequent mortalities in the worst conditions. Poverty remains a grave concern in India. Food inadequacy and hard and hazardous work conditions lead to diseases such as tuberculosis and silicosis, often leading to death. Experts with extensive field experience opine that this is a state of slow starvation. When people do not get enough nutritious food for long periods of time, health takes a downward slide which most times cannot be reversed. Deaths from such situations get tagged under death by disease and not death by starvation, according to John Dreze, a social economist.

While the government on one hand is aiming for India to become a $5 trillion economy by 2024, many parts of rural India is a far cry from such a reality.

(Rohit Jain spent two months between May and July in 2021 travelling through three States on a Pulitzer Grant to report on hunger)

Short supply Sanmai Sihidia cooked rice and soaked it overnight after borrowing grains from one of her neighbours. The monthly rice she receives from the Public Distribution System (PDS) hardly lasts for 15 days.
Short supply Sanmai Sihidia cooked rice and soaked it overnight after borrowing grains from one of her neighbours. The monthly rice she receives from the Public Distribution System (PDS) hardly lasts for 15 days.
The little that they get ‘Pakhal’, or rice soaked overnight in water, along with mushroom curry, is what Jelapi Urlaka fed her youngest daughter Anita.
The little that they get ‘Pakhal’, or rice soaked overnight in water, along with mushroom curry, is what Jelapi Urlaka fed her youngest daughter Anita.
Millet magic  A porridge of ‘ragi’ (finger millets) at Kujing in Muniguda block of Rayagada district in Odisha. The villagers belonging to the Kondh tribe say ragi porridge is filling and gives energy for a longer period. “We do farming without tilling the land. After a few years we shift to other land for farming. In this way, land remains fertile and trees grow again,” a tribesperson says.
Millet magic A porridge of ‘ragi’ (finger millets) at Kujing in Muniguda block of Rayagada district in Odisha. The villagers belonging to the Kondh tribe say ragi porridge is filling and gives energy for a longer period. “We do farming without tilling the land. After a few years we shift to other land for farming. In this way, land remains fertile and trees grow again,” a tribesperson says.
Foraged food Ratni Nundruka (left) and Malti Nundruka, cousins, eat jackfruit plucked from a tree at Matodi in Ambodalai gram panchayat of Muniguda block in Rayagada district of Odisha. Jackfruit is one of the main forest produce that the Kondh tribe in this area eat. Jackfruits seeds are made into a curry.
Foraged food Ratni Nundruka (left) and Malti Nundruka, cousins, eat jackfruit plucked from a tree at Matodi in Ambodalai gram panchayat of Muniguda block in Rayagada district of Odisha. Jackfruit is one of the main forest produce that the Kondh tribe in this area eat. Jackfruits seeds are made into a curry.
Balancing nutrition  Food items to be distributed to the pregnant and breastfeeding women at an anganwadi centre at Jharoni in Raghubari gram panchayat in Muniguda block of Rayagada district in Odisha.
Balancing nutrition Food items to be distributed to the pregnant and breastfeeding women at an anganwadi centre at Jharoni in Raghubari gram panchayat in Muniguda block of Rayagada district in Odisha.
Traditional process Subhia Bhai Partitin from the Gond tribe removes the upper layer of the mahua fruit for extracting oil from it, in front of her house at Sajatola in Koyrali panchayat of Bodla tehsil in Kabirdham district of Chhatisgarh.
Traditional process Subhia Bhai Partitin from the Gond tribe removes the upper layer of the mahua fruit for extracting oil from it, in front of her house at Sajatola in Koyrali panchayat of Bodla tehsil in Kabirdham district of Chhatisgarh.
Water woes Ghanshyam Markam along with his brother Deepak Markam from the Gond tribe walk more than a kilometre to fetch water from a stream in the forest at Koyrali in Bodla tehsil of Kabirdham district of Chhatisgarh. There is a well near their house but the water isn’t good. Recently, someone threw a dead snake in it and so they avoid its water completely for a few days.
Water woes Ghanshyam Markam along with his brother Deepak Markam from the Gond tribe walk more than a kilometre to fetch water from a stream in the forest at Koyrali in Bodla tehsil of Kabirdham district of Chhatisgarh. There is a well near their house but the water isn’t good. Recently, someone threw a dead snake in it and so they avoid its water completely for a few days.
Hardscrabble life Sarika Birhor, aged around 10, is was cooking rice for dinner at her home in Basariya Birhor Tola of Chatra district in Jharkhand. Her mother passed away when she was around five and her youngest sister would be around a year and a half old. Her parents used to work as daily wage labours at a brick kiln in Uttar Pradesh. She is the eldest of her two siblings, Savita and Anita. They are looked after by their grandmother. Her grandmother begs during the weekly bazaar in Tandwa tehsil. Children collect the leafy vegetables from the forest around to be eaten with rice.
Hardscrabble life Sarika Birhor, aged around 10, is was cooking rice for dinner at her home in Basariya Birhor Tola of Chatra district in Jharkhand. Her mother passed away when she was around five and her youngest sister would be around a year and a half old. Her parents used to work as daily wage labours at a brick kiln in Uttar Pradesh. She is the eldest of her two siblings, Savita and Anita. They are looked after by their grandmother. Her grandmother begs during the weekly bazaar in Tandwa tehsil. Children collect the leafy vegetables from the forest around to be eaten with rice.
Getting by  Jagudi Sihidia feeds ‘pakhal’ to her 15-month-old granddaughter Miki at  her house at Bujibong in Ambodala gram panchayat in Muniguda block of Rayagada  district in Odisha.
Getting by Jagudi Sihidia feeds ‘pakhal’ to her 15-month-old granddaughter Miki at her house at Bujibong in Ambodala gram panchayat in Muniguda block of Rayagada district in Odisha.
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Printable version | May 18, 2022 12:04:35 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/news-in-frames-hungry-nation/article38277627.ece