ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Who Is Accountable for Starvation Deaths?

Denial of social security facilities is to blame in cases of alleged starvation deaths.

The distressing news of three young girls dying of starvation in the heart of New Delhi last week raises a number of questions; not only on the failure of the state to protect its citizens from hunger 70 years after independence but also on the development model that India seems to be following. Mansi, Shikha and Parul, aged eight, four and two, respectively, were declared brought dead at the hospital on 24 July. The post-mortem reports apparently revealed that these were starvation deaths. Their father is missing, and the mother is in a mentally unstable condition and has now been admitted in a hospital. It is a paradox to note that India has moved into consumer capitalism from industrial capitalism. The question then is: Who is consuming what and how much? The growth of the food and service industry paints a satisfactory picture but is this “consuming India” aware of such starvation deaths?

The death of these children follows a series of reports of alleged starvation deaths over the last six months, mostly from Jharkhand but also from other states such as Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh. In each of these cases, fact- finding reports and newspaper stories have documented failures of the system in reaching entitlements to the affected families. The National Food Security Act (NFSA) includes provisions for subsidised grains from the public distribution system (PDS), school meals for schoolgoing children, maternity entitlements and supplementary nutrition for young children through anganwadi centres. In this particular instance, the eldest girl should have been attending school (guaranteed under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act) and getting a regular mid-day meal, and the other two children should have been getting supplementary nutrition from an anganwadi centre. A fact-finding report prepared by the Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan revealed that while these services were available in the area, the girls and their parents did not have access to any of these in the months preceding their deaths. This was presumably because it was more difficult for them to get enrolled as they were migrants and did not have the necessary documents. Or, probably because the quota of ration cards in Delhi have already been distributed.

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Updated On : 7th Aug, 2018
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