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article imageReport Criticizes India for Action on Hunger

By Chris Dade     Oct 17, 2009 in Health
India, home to over one third of the world's hungry, has been criticized in a report by an international anti-poverty agency over its efforts to tackle the problem of hunger within its population.
In a report released by the international anti-poverty agency ActionAid - an organization formed in 1972 and with its head office in Johannesburg, South Africa - to mark World Food Day India, a country in which an estimated 350 million people are malnourished and are unsure of the source of their next meal, has been criticized for its failure to alleviate the problem.
Meanwhile Brazil and China, who along with India and Russia are known as the BRIC countries, BRIC being an acronym used when referring to some of the world's fastest growing developing economies, have been praised for their success in reducing hunger amongst their populations.
As the Earth Times reports India is placed within the top three of developing countries when judged on the social protection that it can offer. But a failure to implement effectively policies that ensure people have access to that protection has seen, since the mid 1990s, more than 30 million Indians added to the number considered "urgently hungry" around the world.
Data from the UN's World Food Programme, as well as statistics compiled by aid agencies and think-tanks, reveals that there are one billion malnourished people in the world today, a number that represents somewhere between one in six and one in seven of the world's population.
Furthermore within the last year 100 million people who were previously not classed as "urgently hungry" are now deemed as falling in to that category.
The BBC identifies extracts from the 'Hunger Free' report by ActionAid that explain why a country such as India has as many as 47 per cent of its children under the age of six classed as malnourished.
Firstly ActionAid notes that hunger is "a choice that we make, not a force of nature", adding that it starts with inequality and increases because of "perverse policies that treat food purely as a commodity, not a right", policies that lead to a situation whereby "most developing countries no longer grow enough to feed themselves" and have farmers that are "amongst the hungriest and poorest people in the world".
According to the Earth Times Anne Jellema, international policy director for ActionAid, told the IANS news agency:It is the role of the state and not the level of wealth that determines progress on
hunger
Ms Jellema's colleague Babu Matthew, country director for ActionAid India, commented:The dark side of India's economic growth has been that the excluded social groups have been further marginalised, compounding their hunger, malnutrition and even leading to starvation deaths
The current economic situation may be said by some to be responsible for the deteriorating situation regarding people who suffer from a lack of food but some countries, unlike India, appear to have combined economic growth with clearly defined strategies to reduce the hunger within their populations.
Brazil has been commended for the land reform it has implemented and the community kitchens for the poor that have been introduced.
Support from the Chinese state for smallholder farmers has helped cut the number of people in China who go hungry by 58 million during the last decade.
India's neighbor Bangladesh, whilst still considered to be a country with a considerable malnutrition problem and an inadequate agricultural system, has, says the BBC, still managed to cut in the last ten years from 40 million to 27 million those amongst its population regarded as "chronically food-insecure".
The developed world clearly has a key role to play in alleviating hunger, and indeed poverty in any shape or form. And the report by ActionAid shows that it is Europe that is leading the way in providing assistance to the developing world.
Luxembourg is said to the most active amongst the richest countries in fighting hunger, with France, the Netherlands, Sweden and the U.K. also featuring in the "Top Ten" of developed nations playing a prominent role in tackling the problem.
New Zealand and the U.S. are the two countries, the former being named as the worst-performing, identified as making the smallest contribution from amongst the richest nations to reducing the numbers in the world who have insufficient food.
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