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World Food Day meaningless for havenots


Today is marriage of Saif Khan and Karena Kapoor and also World Food Day[i] but media is hype catering news about their marriage but not highlighting the issue related to food security such as Mandodari and Chandra Shekhar two children Karma dancer of Raup Ghasia Basti[ii] are suffering from acute malnourishment.




VARANASI: Considering food as a requisite for human survival and well-being and a fundamental human necessity, World Food Day (October 16) will be observed across the world on Tuesday. It aims to heighten public awareness of the world food problem and strengthen solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty.

Unfortunately, the awareness level of community as well as commitment of the governments is yet to reach a desirable height to eliminate this social problem. World Food Day was proclaimed in 1979 by the conference of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). In 1980, the General Assembly endorsed observance of the day.

Take the example of Chandrashekhar, a one-and-a-half-year old boy with acute malnutrition, who was admitted to a hospital recently by volunteers of an NGO. His sister Mandodari (7), who is also acutely malnourished and was given blood to enhance hemoglobin level, was also admitted to the hospital.

They belong to Ghasia tribe living in Raup village of Sonbhadra district.

"The people of Ghasia tribe in Sonbhadra are performers of traditional Karma dance, but they are bound to live in pathetic condition as they have no proper source of income," said Lenin Raghuvanshi of People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights ( PVCHR).

This organization has been working in the area. A group of members of Ghasia tribe of Roup village had also performed the traditional Karma dance and taken part in the luncheon hosted by Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi at Teen Murty House, New Delhi on November 24, 1986. Katwaru, one of the members, who performed at that programme, has kept the invitation letter for the luncheon as a valuable treasure.

There are about 300 members of Ghasia tribe in Raup village while about 10,000 members live in different other blocks of the district, said Katwaru. They are landless and have no accesses to safe drinking water. They cannot afford to send their children to school as they have to struggle hard for survival. The tribe had lost 18 children in 2001-02 due to hunger and malnutrition. Most often their children go to bed empty stomach. People living below poverty line in other districts of the region like Chandauli, Mirzapur and Varanasi have to struggle hard for living. Thousands of people do not get two square meals a day and scores of BPL families earn less than Rs 250 a month.

According to the records of the BPL Census-2002, 4,633 BPL households of Sonebhadra district get less than one square meal per day for major part of the year. The number of such families in Chandauli and Mirzapur districts is 716 and 45,952 respectively. A total of 10,241 BPL families in Chandauli district, 4,176 families in Sonebhadra district and 1,832 families in Mirzapur district have monthly income of less than Rs 250.

The records state that 97,212 such families in Sonebhadra district normally get one square meal per day while 37,589 families get one square meal per day throughout the year. Only 3,055 BPL households have enough food throughout the year. In Chandauli district, 716 families get less than one square meal per day for major parts of the year, 1,484 families one meal occasionally and 5,279 families get one meal per day throughout the year.

In Mirzapur, 45,952 families get less than one square meal per day for major part of the year, 81,301 families get one square meal per day, but less than one square meal occasionally. In Varanasi district, there are 9,257 rural households whose monthly income is less than Rs 250, while 3,179 families could have less than one square meal per day for major part of the year.

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The work of PVCHR was awarded with the Gwangju Human Rights Award 2007, ACHA Star Peace Award 2008 and 2010 Human rights prize of the city of Weimar in 2010 and Usmania Award from Madarsa Usmania, Bazardiha for the development and welfare of education.

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