Friday, 17 October 2008

World Food Day: Millions of Indians slip back to poverty


October 17, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Oct 16: As officials glossed over their "achievements" on the agricultural front on the World Food Day on Thursday, nearly one-tenth of the country's population slipped back into poverty under the impact of soaring prices of food items and unchecked inflation.
World Food Day is observed on October 16 more in a ritual manner than actually addressing the problem of hunger, malnutrition, food crisis and price rise. This year too it was just another World Food Day and the authorities concerned were simply content with rolling out alarming statistics on the food crisis in the country including in highly developed States like Punjab.
According to Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram, more than 100 million people may have slipped back into poverty, and the Central government's efforts to eliminate poverty have suffered a setback by about seven years.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation has noted in its latest report that climate change will trigger hunger in India by affecting cereal production by as much as 18 per cent. "India could lose as much as 125 million tonnes of its rainfed cereal production," the FAO warned.
Unicef in its report has pointed out that about 60 per cent of children in India sleep empty stomach as they do not have access to food. Moreover, the population of malnourished and undernourished children is going up at an alarming rate, with complications of vitamin A deficiency.
However, the only silver lining is that the rate of chronic malnourishment has come down by 15 per cent in the last three decades.

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