General Studies Paper 2 (Social Justice)
Question:- “Despite of surplus food production, millions of Indian citizens die to due to hunger.” Comment. Answer in 150 words (10 marks)
Jun 17, 2022

Introduction: Talk about the state of hunger and poverty in India. Use some latest Index to add validity.
Body Para: Write about the reasons for the problem.
Conclusion: Write a way forward to tackle the solution.

Answer:-

INTRODUCTION:

India ranks 101st out of 116 countries on the 2021 Global Hunger Index rankings with a score of 27.5, which GHI considers “serious.” Of the 1.3 billion living in India, over 194 million people, or 14.5%, are
undernourished.

 

LINKAGE POINT – This crisis is a severe problem throughout India, and is difficult to address for a variety of reasons.

 

Reasons:

  1. 1. Poverty restricts the food choices as the prices of food items are not in tune with the regional disparities in terms of development- the backwardness among the hilly and tribal areas.
  2. 2. The agriculture output from small and marginal holdings are either stagnant or declining due to reasons such as reduced soil fertility, fragmented lands ,fluctuating market price of farm produce,
    monoculture etc. Almost 50 million households in India are dependent on these small and marginal holdings. Though we have surplus food, most small and marginal farming households do not produce enough food grains for their year-round consumption.
  3. 3. The occupation that a major section of people are engaged in is not remunerative enough to buy adequate food. (In Poverty and Famines, Amartya Sen introduced the idea of ‘exchange entitlement decline’ as a reason for starvation and famines. It is characterized by an adverse shift in the exchange value of endowments for food.)
  4. 4. There is less opportunity to get remunerative works. Lack of income opportunities other than farm sector has contributed heavily to the growing joblessness in rural areas. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (MGNREGA) continues to be the lone rural job programme that, too, had been weakened over the years through great delays in payments and non-payments, ridiculously low wages and a reduced scope of employment due to high bureaucratic control.
  5. 5. The public distribution system (PDS) of the state is not functioning well or is not accessible to everyone. It is mired with inefficiencies and corrupt practices denying food to many. The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and the National Health Mission (NHM) have not achieved adequate coverage.
  6. 6. A person’s ‘nutritional quotient’ is also dependent demographic factors like gender, caste, age, etc. For instance, the nutritional needs of girl children, women and elderly are not adequately addressed in our
    society.
  7. 7. Food wastage is also an emerging challenge that undermines the efforts to end hunger and malnutrition. According to the FAO, the global volume of food wastage is estimated at 1.6 billion tonnes of primary
    product equivalents.
  8. 8. Climate variability affecting rainfall patterns and agricultural seasons, and climate extremes such as droughts, floods and tropical storms are among the key drivers behind the rise in hunger. Together with conflict and economic slowdowns, they have calamitous consequences for the hungry poor.

 

CONCLUSION:
Achieving zero hunger requires a renewed focus on small and marginal holdings. Also, we need to formulate policies that support better agricultural investments.
We need to start boosting the production and consumption of climate resilient native nutritional crops. A sustainable shift must be made towards nutrition-sensitive agriculture and food systems that can provide safe and high-quality food for all. Agro-ecological practices such as zero budget natural farming, organic farming and permaculture play
an important role in this regard.
In addition to the existing provisions of healthy diets from Anganwadi and schools through mid-day meals, the government must create provisions to supply cooked nutritious food to the vulnerable section of the society (mention some models of inexpensive canteens being run by various state govts –Amma Canteens-TN, Indira Rasoi-Rajasthan etc). Religious institutions and NGOs can play an important role in this regard. Also, rural employment schemes such as MGNREGA should be given a boost to increase employment and wages. Access to food grains under the PDS needs to be streamlined by simplifying technical processes. Our policies must pay special attention to groups who are the most vulnerable to the harmful consequences of poor food access: infants, children aged under five, school-aged children, adolescent girls, and women. The steps by government like National Nutrition Mission, National Food Security Mission, Zero Hunger Programme, Eat Right Movement, Food Fortification programme etc are the constructive steps in ending hunger in India. However, India still has a long way to go in ensuring complete eradication of hunger and achieving SDG 2.