India, 'the Silent Emergency'

Cynically it is unfortunate that the "hunger " problem in India is not primarily one of mass starvation which would attract international attention but rather one of widespread state of malnutrition which has been so common for years that it leaves the International community indifferent. Even today, when India has made notable progress in many field of economic growth, 53 % of the children are moderately and severely malnourished and close to 2 million children die every year before completing one year. And many of these deaths would be avoidable should enough food and nutrition/health education made available to the poorest household.

Contrary to many emergency situations, there is no dispute here whether we need to provide a 1900 or 2100 kcal food basket. The poorest 30% of Indian household i.e. 300 million people still have food consumption levels well below acceptable level with only 1680 kcalories per day per capita available in the best scenario. When you can provide a supplement of 600 kcal for a whole family per day, it is already a remarkable achievement. 

The condition of the scheduled caste and tribal families in backward areas appears far worse than some of the conditions seen in refugee camps. An Indian rural child from these families eats only twice a day at the best time of the year suffers from several episodes of diarrhea per year and is not being given adequate care. No doubt that in these areas there is also a very high infant mortality rate. It is a very sad picture that next to the splendors that India can offer, million of children are prone to suffer from low potential of physical and mental capacity because they did not receive the proper nutrition they had the right to have at the start of their life. No future for them and worse no hope. Money and assistance is just not available for them. Programmes to assist women and children in remote areas (which unfortunately still fall under the label of "development project") have seen their resource drastically cut in the recent years mainly due to the fact that donors are allocating their money to highly visible and political emergency operations.

Having worked on the "emergency" side for 6 years, I feel now frustrated about this dichotomy of so called emergency situation and development where you have so much difficulty in raising interest of the donors and even awareness and support from your own headquarter! The need is enormous in some of the poorest states of India but also the potential of having effective intervention is there with highly motivated community and competent staff. In giving some hope you could do so much for mothers and children in India whom are responsive and understand the need to fight to change their situation. But unless, there is no drastic response from the International Community, children in India will continue to suffer and die silently.

More like this

FEX: What became of ...

On October 24 1984 a seven and a half minute film of the inhabitants of three towns in Northern Ethiopia; Mekele, Almata and Korem was broadcast on BBC's Six O' Clock news. The...

FEX: GOAL

Name GOAL Year formed 1977 Address PO Box 19, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, Ireland Chief Executive John O'Shea Telephone +353 1 2809779 Overseas staff 116 expatriate,...

FEX: MERLIN

Name MERLIN (MEDICAL EMERGENCY RELIEF INTERNATIONAL) Headquarters LONDON, ENGLAND Headquarters staff 40 Telephone 44 171 487 2505 No Of Overseas staff 60 Fax 44 171 487...

FEX: Use of commercial RUTF in India

Summary of publication1 In India, nearly 8 million children suffer from severe acute malnutrition (SAM). Several hospitals and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are engaged...

en-net: Dosage of RUTF

The recommendations of RUTF are based on 200kcal per kg per day for under fives. Taking an example of a child who is, say 10.5kg, a dose of 4.2 sachets per day( 4.5 in the...

FEX: Save the Children Fund (UK)

Name Save the Children Fund (UK) No of Headquarters staff 349 Headquarters London, England No Of Overseas staff 197 Telephone (44) 171 7035400 No of Local...

FEX: One hundred years of famine – a pause for reflection

Dublin '99 This piece was written by Fiona Watson, Institute of Child Health - NutritionWorks with contributions from the editors As the millennium draws to a close, memories...

NEX: Integrated programme achieves good survival but moderate recovery rates among children with severe acute malnutrition in India

Victor Aguayo et al. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2013; 98:1335-42 At any point in time, an average 8 million Indian children suffer from severe acute malnutrition...

FEX: Ambulatory treatment of severe malnutrition in Afghanistan

By Emmanuelle Lurqin Emmanuelle is a paediatric nurse and since 2000, has worked with MSF Belgium on nutrition programmes in Angola, Burundi, and Afghanistan. She is currently...

FEX: Managing severe acute malnutrition in India: prospects and Challenges

By Biraj Patnaik Biraj Patnaik is the Principal Adviser to the Commissioners of the Supreme Court of India in the right to food case. He is also associated with the Right to...

Resource: Formula milk 'dangerous' as humanitarian aid, Indonesia, news article

www.thejakartapost.com/news/2008/07/07/formula-milk-039dangerous039-humanitarian-aid.html Formula milk 'dangerous' as humanitarian aid *Prodita Sabarini*, The Jakarta...

FEX: Food for the Hungry

Name Food for the Hungry Headquarters Scottsdale, Arizona, USA Chief Executive Tetsunao Yamamori Telephone 1 - 602 - 998 3100 Headquarters Staff 16 Fax 1 - 602 - 998...

FEX: Letter on 'silent emergency' in India, by Rita Bhatia

Geneva Foundation Patrick Brooke Janice Pritchard-Jones Joseph Gettier Dear Editors, Having read issue 4 of Field Exchange I wish to comment on the article "Novel...

FEX: Concern Worldwide

Name Concern Worldwide Website www.concern.net Headquarters Dublin, Ireland Type of Work Emergency relief, Health, Community development, Agriculture and Natural resources,...

FEX: DPRK in Crisis, What Do We Know?

This overview of the current situation in the DPRK and its context, was researched and written for Field Exchange by Killian Forde with editorial assistance from Lola Gostelow...

Resource: Breastfeeding and the risk of postneonatal death in the United States

Chen A, Rogan WJ. Breastfeeding and the risk of postneotal death in the United States. Pediatrics 113: 435-439, 2004 A large US based study based on national representative...

FEX: ActionAid International

Agency ActionAid International Fax +27 (0) 11 880 8082 Chief Executive Ramesh Singh Website http://www.actionaid.org ActionAid UK Director Richard Miller Staff international...

Resource: Feeding of infants and young children in tsunami affected villages in Pondicherry [India]

Feeding of infants and young children in tsunami affected villages in Pondicherry [India]. Adhisivam B, Srinivasan S, Soudarssanane MB, Deepa. Indian Pediatr. 2006...

FEX: Iraq - Sanctions Take Their Toll

By Killian Forde Under article 41 of the United Nations Charter, the UN Security Council (UNSC) may call upon member states to apply measures not involving the use of armed...

en-net: Emergency threshold for kilocalories per person per day

Hi All, It is well known that the recommended kilocalories per person, per day, for an adult not doing physical labour is 2100 kcal. But is there an 'emergency threshold' for...

Close

Reference this page

India, 'the Silent Emergency'. Field Exchange 4, June 1998. p22. www.ennonline.net/fex/4/india