By Alphonsa Kumari
Kolkata, Nov. 14, 2018: At least 65 starvation deaths were reported in the past three years in India, which has become the world’s sixth biggest economy, pushing France to the seventh place.
The World Bank reports that the Indian economy showed a growth of 8.2 percent in the second quarter of 2018.
As per the second advance estimate of production released by Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, New Delhi, in 2017-2018 the country has witnessed record Food grains production of 277.49 million tons.
India requires only 225-230 million tons of food grains to feed its people by the very department. This means India has produced surplus of food grains.
On the other hand the Right To Food (RTF) Campaign India has come out with the names of 65 starvation deaths in the last three years in the country.
Who are these? Why are they dying of starvation in this time of plenty and what can or should be done to arrest this national shame?
These starving people are all around us and they are also most disadvantaged in every aspects, economically poor, politically voiceless and socially ‘depressed caste’ or Dalit and Adivasis (tribals).
West Bengal Right to Food and Work Campaign has been discussing this for the last few months with its network partners and beneficiaries of various schemes.
To address this issue a new movement named “Bhukha Manusher Abhijan” (Movement of the Hungry People), with starving people from different districts of West Bengal, is contemplated.
To mark the birth of this movement the campaign will organize a press conference at Kolkata Press Club on November 15 to announce strategic plans for the state along with network partners to address starvation deaths among the urban and rural poor of India.
The state level convention on ‘Bhukha Manusher Abhijan’ is organised on November 16 and will be attended by network partners along with academics and activists.
The press conference will be addressed by National Trade unionist Anuradha Talwar, Jesuit Priest Irudaya Jothi both from Right to Food and Work Campaign, Swapan Ganguly from Paschim Bango Khet Majdur Samiti and Smarajit Jana from Durbar Mahila Samanway Committee on behalf of hungry people.
Soumi Jana, assistant secretary of West Bengal right to food campaign, said, “274 people from 16 organisations will be present in the convention.” The convention will be held at Raja Rammohan Roy Hall in Central Kolkata.
The aim of the convention is to unite starving people from various districts of Wet Bengal and possible solutions or way forward to arrest starvation in any form in Bengal said Jesuit Father Irudaya Jothi, director of Udayani (awakening) Social Action Forum, a Jesuit-managed NGO.
People belonging to the unorganized sectors, marginal farmers, rakhi makers, agricultural laborers, scavengers, sex works will be sharing their stories of starvation.
They will also suggest to the state and federal governments the ways to remedy their problems.
They will demand, right to a dignified life, right to work, right to food, right to land, right to minimum wages, right to clean drinking water and fair price for their crops.
It is an attempt from the part of Right To Food Campaign in West Bengal to listen from the half and full hungry people of West Bengal and try to intervene in their lives so that every one has dignified life.