A fact-finding mission led by a group of activists tried to piece together the circumstances leading to the deaths of three girls.
After Sonia Gandhi stepped down as president of the Indian National Congress this month after an often turbulent 19 years, many have commented on her mixed and bitterly contested political legacy.
Every third malnourished child in the world is Indian. Every third child in India is malnourished. They deserve much better from their governments than escape paths to the central duty of a caring state to ensure adequate nutritious food in their bellies.
An 11-year-old child Santoshi dies in a remote village in Jharkhand. Her mother testifies to reporters that no one in her household had eaten a meal for a full eight days before her daughter died. There was not a grain in their mud house.
In October, Koili Devi lost her young daughter to creeping hunger. Life gave her no chance to grieve – this was only the beginning of her long nightmare. The state administration, even at its highest levels, stigmatised her for bringing shame to her village and the nation with her claim that her daughter had died of starvation.
The people of India’s villages carry collective memories of centuries of calamitous losses of sometimes millions of lives in famines. Famines have been pushed into history, unarguably one of free India’s greatest accomplishments.
India has transformed spectacularly in innumerable ways in the last two decades. One of the least noted changes is in the way the country — governments, the press and people — respond to drought and food scarcities.
It is troubling that the Centre has displayed a casual disregard for laws and court rulings that create a framework of statutory social rights for protecting the vulnerable.
Even with many shortcomings the mid-day meal scheme is still the best implemented of all social programmes, comparing favourably to the public distribution system, the Integrated Child Development Services scheme and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.
The debates around the national food security Bill—which will create legal duties for the state to provide food to citizens—have become overheated and often deeply polarized.