Monday, March 15, 2010

Binayak Sen : Green Hunt adding to malnutrition woes

National vice-president of People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Dr Binayak Sen has said the action against Maoists is only accentuating the problem of malnutrition in tribal areas. He was speaking at the sixth I G Khan Memorial Lecture on 'Violence and justice in our times' at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) on Saturday. Putting figures on the table to drive home his point, Dr Sen said malnutrition should be the most pressing concern of the government.

"A person with a body mass index of less than 18.5 is malnourished. According to National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau, 33 per cent of adult Indians have a BMI of less than 18.5. If you disaggregate this, over 50 per cent Scheduled Tribes have a BMI of 18.5 or are undernourished.

"The WHO says that any community of which over 40 per cent population has a BMI of 18.5 per cent is in a state of famine. By that standard, many communities in India are living in a state of famine. Orissa, whose 40 per cent population is undernourished, too, fits the bill."

Military campaign against Maoists and displacement of tribals, he underlined, would only make things worse. "The government is displacing a large number of people from the very resource base that they are surviving on. Use of words like collateral damage by the government is dangerous as the Maoists don't carry a label on their head."

Himanshu Kumar, founder of Vanvasi Chetna Ashram, Dantewada, said, "Over 700 villages were burnt by Salwa Judum forces, not one has been rehabilitated by the government despite a Supreme Court directive in this respect. The villagers have nowhere to live now, are going hungry. When we protest, our workers are put in jail."

(Indian Express, 14th March

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