“For now I ask no more than the justice of eating.”
– Pablo Neruda, Chilean Poet, Noble Prize Winner
Sometimes the horrors of poverty that plague our nation goes beyond our urban imagination where wastage of food comes naturally to most us and we do not even seem to notice the people with lack of food around us.
Madhu, a 30-year old tribal man was lynched to death by a self-righteous mob in Kerala because he stole rice and groceries worth Rs 200.
Poverty and hunger could have led him to rob the rice. Of course him stealing is wrong. But did it merit death by a mob.
News reels are drying off their ink, writing about Nirav Modi who scammed Punjab National Bank (PNB) of over Rs 11,400 crores; should not this Kerala mob go and thrash Nirav Modi currently living lavishly at a New York five-star hotel.
I am left wondering what led the mob to tie Madhu’s hands behind his hands and lynch him to the point of death. More importantly under what mental degeneration in the them do they take selfies of their inhuman act.
This is not vigilantism of the men of Kerala. Neither is this literacy that Kerala often boasts about. This is pure ugliness of nature. This is a divide between the rich and the poor. This is a contempt for someone who was not as clean, well-clothed or from a social circle as the people in the mob. This is a slap on the face of every Keralite and every Indian, where in we cannot strive to feed our poor but we have the diabolic nature to kill someone for being hungry, poor and show our manliness by lynching him to death instead of listening to him and his worries, or even feeding him.
The act of the mob of men in Kerala is vile and devoid of any humanity.
The fact that even today so many in our country go without food, clothing or shelter, especially the poorest of the poor is something we need to work towards changing; otherwise what good is all our development and infrastructure, educational standards, when we do not even have humanness in us to feed, cloth and provide shelter to our poor, desolate and homeless.
Here a few statistics from compiled from UN World Food Programme, UN World Health Organization: Global Database on Child Growth and Malnutrition, 2006, UN Food and Agriculture Organization: SOFI 2006 Report, National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganized Sector (India), National Family Health Survey 2005-06 (NFHS-3) (India), Centre for Environment and Food Security (India), Rural 21 (India) to give you an understanding of the silent killer – hunger & poverty.
1. No 1 cause of death in the world – Hunger.
2. India accounts for 1/3rd of the world’s hungry people.
3. 99% of the 1000 Adivasi households from 40 villages in the two states, who comprised the total sample states of the research, experienced chronic hunger (unable to get two square meals, or at least one square meal and one poor/partial meal, on even one day in the week prior to the survey). Almost as many (24.1 per cent) had lived in conditions of semi-starvation during the previous month.
4.Over 7000 Indians die of hunger every day.
5.Over 25 lakh Indians die of hunger every year.
6.Despite substantial improvement in health since independence and a growth rate of 8 percent in recent years, under-nutrition remains a silent emergency in India, with almost 50 percent of Indian children underweight and more than 70 percent of the women and children with serious nutritional deficiencies as anemia.
7.The number of hungry people in India is always more than the number of people below official poverty line (while around 37% of rural households were below the poverty line in 1993-94, 80% of households suffered under nutrition).
It is estimated that nearly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year gets lost or wasted. 40 percent of the fruits and vegetables, and 30 percent of cereals that are produced are lost due to inefficient supply chain management and do not reach the consumer markets. While significant levels of food losses occur upstream, at harvest and during post-harvest handling, a lot of food is lost or wasted during the distribution and consumption stages. Some food is also wasted on the shelves and in the warehouses of food businesses either due to excess production, introduction of new products, labeling errors, or due to shorter remaining shelf life. Such food could be salvaged by timely withdrawing it from the distribution network, aggregating it and then redirecting it to the people in need.
Hunger – is a real problem that needs to addressed on a war-footing by Prime Narendra Modi because our people of dying because of hunger.
Madhu did not die because he stole rice, he died because his life was not worth more than the bag of rice to the people who lynched him.