It is popularly said that Jharkhand is a rich state where poor people lives. Food security is, therefore, more important for Jharkhand. With the establishment of the state, there is boring trend of arranging seminars/symposium for finding solution to this problem with public exchequer.
Are we so ignorant of the geo-hydrology and agroclimatic condition of Jharkhand to implement proper action plan? How long it will take to us understand the actual need of the hour? Answer lies in rainwater harvesting based on toposequential and geo-hydrological behaviour of different terrain separately and management of watershed for food security and prosperity. Curbing corruption is no less important though.
Mrs. Anindita Dey
Report: India's mineral-rich state Jharkhand is the most hungry and thirsty state in the country and has the poorest of sanitation facilities
New Delhi: India's mineral-rich state Jharkhand is the most hungry and thirsty state in the country and also among the states that has the poorest of sanitation facilities.
According to a report on the State of Food Insecurity in Rural India prepared jointly by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), Jharkhand has replaced Orissa from top of the list of hungry states in the country.
The report, which is a corollary to the Food Insecurity Atlas of Rural India that was released in 2001, also ranks the country 94th on the Global Hunger Index of 119 countries.
"On the composite index of food insecurity of rural India, states like Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh are found in the 'very high' level of food insecurity, followed by Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Gujarat", the report said.
The better performers include Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, all of which report an Index value below 0.53, it added.
Surprisingly, economically developed states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka find themselves in the category of high food insecurity in the report.
"It is perhaps a reflection of the manifestation of the agrarian crisis in the states and its consequent negative impact on the health and well-being of the rural population," the report argues.
According to the report, almost two-third of rural households in Jharkhand do not have access to safe drinking water and more than 90 per cent of rural households in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh do not have access to toilets within their premises.
Malnutrition: India's bane
The latest report on the state of food insecurity in rural India also shows that more than 1.5 million children are at risk of becoming malnourished because of rising global food prices.
According to the report, more than 27 per cent of the world's undernourished population live in India while 43 per cent of children (under 5 years) in the country are underweight.
The figure is among the highest in the world and is much higher than the global average of 25 per cent, including the sub-Saharan Africa's figure of 28 per cent.
"In fact, every third adult between the ages of 15-49 years is having a Body Mass Index (BMI) less than 18.5 against the normal weight of 18.5 - 24.9, clearly indicating that they are thin and undernourished," the report says.
Anaemia: On the upswing
As many as eight states�Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan�have shown increase in the incidence of anaemia among women in the reproductive age group.
According to the report, the proportion of rural anaemic children in at least 12 states has figures higher than 80 per cent. Bihar, that already had a high figure of 81 per cent, has further increased to 89 per cent.
The highest increase in anaemia levels has been observed in Andhra Pradesh (51 to 64 per cent), followed by Haryana (48 to 57 per cent) and Kerala (23 to 32 per cent).
However, percentage of women with Chronic Energy Deficiency (CED) is stagnant at 40 per cent over six years with the proportion in fact increasing in Assam, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana during the same period, the report added.
The report further blames the failure of government's ambitious Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) for the ills.
"Apart from failing to serve the intended goal of reduction of food subsidies, the TPDS also led to greater food insecurity for large sections of the poor and the near-poor," the report said.
According to it, these targeting errors arise due to imperfect information, inexact measurement of household characteristics, corruption and inefficiency.
Another problem of the TPDS was the issue of quantity of grain that a household is entitled to. The scheme had initially restricted the allotments to Below Poverty Line (BPL) households to 10 kg per month or 2 kg per capita for a family of five.
"Using the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) recommended norm of 330 grams per day, the requirement per person per month would be 11 kg and that for a family of five would be 55 kg," the report said.
The Union Budget of 2001 increased the allotment to 20 kg per month and raised it further to 35 kg in April 2002.
The report also lashes out at the government's definitions of hunger and poverty.
"The fact that calorie deprivation is increasing during a period when the proportion of rural population below the poverty line is claimed to be declining rapidly, highlights the increasing disconnect between official poverty estimates and calorie deprivation," it said.
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