Archive for Grain

India’s Poor Starve While Grain Rots By the Roadside

Posted in Children, Environment, Government Spending, Health, Human Rights, United Nations with tags , , , , , , on 13/05/2012 by floroy1942

The Indian government is surely responsible for one of the biggest scandals of modern times. Many of its 1.2 billion people, in particular children under five, are starving to death while food for millions is rotting in open storage areas because the country has run out of storage space.

Left To Rot While People Starve

A new report out today indicates that for nearly a year millions of tons of grain have been left to rot in outdoor storage areas because there is no more proper covered storage space in the country. In just one dump the sacks are piled 15ft high and covering an area the size of a football field.

India’s Disgrace!

India has seen bumper crops for four of the past five years, and production is expected to top 253 million tons this year which means next year will probably see the same thing happening. Meanwhile, millions suffer from mal-nourishment because they have no food, and children under the age of five are dying of hunger.

Personally, I find this a national disgrace in a country that finds it necessary to have nuclear weapons, and has recently put a satellite in orbit while millions of its people starve. It seems that the divide between the have’s and have not’s in India has reached epic proportions and nobody gives a damn!

As Usual It’s All About Money

The government says they have no more space to store the bumper crops because all the warehousing facilities are full, but to me this is not an excuse. This grain could be given, or even sold to the poor at subsidised prices, but this is not done ‘for fiscal reasons’. In other words, distributing the excess grain to the starving means there is no profit in it. Food Minister K.V. Thomas was quoted as saying last thursday that the government was taking “all necessary steps” to increase its storage capacities. This will of course take time, and in the meanwhile people are starving!

Opposition parties and even some members of the government are criticising the situation as a scandal, and so they should. “It is unfortunate that while people are dying of hunger, food grain is rotting in the open. We are confronting a serious food crisis, and the government is indifferent to this colossal waste,” said Sharad Yadav, a key opposition leader.

Indian Prime Minister

The government had been warned of the lack of storage space by the Food Corporation of India, the state-run agency responsible for purchasing grain, but nothing has been done. According to sources, the government was reluctant to allow an increase in grain exports for fear of political protests at a time when the country had been suffering double-digit inflation of food prices for most of the last year, and economists say selling the grain at subsidised prices would expand the fiscal deficit.

Activists have a different view. Biraj Patnaik, an adviser to India’s Supreme Court on food policy issues said: “The rotting of food grain is tantamount to criminal neglect in a country which has one of the highest rates of child malnutrition globally and the largest proportion of hungry people”. He went further by saying, “the government’s refusal to distribute the grain to the poor, holding it back to rot ‘purely on fiscal grounds, is particularly distressing.’. In the meantime, villagers near the rotting stockpiles are scavenging what they can save from the huge mountains of rotten grain.

Saving What They Can

There are people all over the third world who are dying needlessly from lack of food, so instead of letting so much staple food like wheat rot why can’t the government donate it to the UNHCR for example, for I am sure they would find a good use for it and quite probably save many lives.

It is indeed a sad indictment of our times when a government would rather see food rot than distribute it to the starving in their own country because such an action would not generate a profit. God help us all!

Roy.

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