#India -2- child norm to Maternity Care, Nutritional Security Of Children #WTFnews #Coercion #illegal #health


Cap benefits, limit families, suggests panel

Call To Dilute Govt Commitments To Maternity Care, Nutritional Security Of Children Draws Fire

Nitin Sethi TNN , Jan 24, 2012

New Delhi: Should maternity benefits and nutritional support to children under government schemes be restricted to only the first two children to “encourage stabilization of population”? Raising a storm among activists, the parliamentary standing committee has recommended so while assessing the National Food Security Bill. The recommendation has been objected to by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights also (NCPCR).

The other recommendations of the standing committee diluting the existing commitments of the government to provide nutritional security to children, flowing out from various Supreme Court orders, has also drawn criticism from the civil society and the commission. In its report, the standing committee said: “The committee recommends that the maternity benefit of Rs 1,000 shall be admissible up to the birth of second child only to encourage stabilization of population.” It also recommended that pregnant women should be eligible for the maternity benefit of Rs 1,000 per month after three months into pregnancy and not for six months as is norm now.
Reacting strongly to the proposals, NCPCR said, “The commission is stunned to see that its submissions to the standing committee on critical issues of children’s food and nutritional security have not found place in the report.” It said, “The universal and unconditional maternal entitlements enabling exclusive breast-feeding to babies for the first six months of life that was provided for in the NFSB is now withdrawn. On the contrary, the committee imposed the two-child norm denying entitlements to the third born and higher order of babies to encourage stabilization of population.”
The standing committee report notes that the recommendation to use regulation of nutritional support for population stabilization was made by Congress MP Naveen Jindal.
The commission has criticized the recommendations, saying, “The committee has ignored the importance of exclusive breast-feeding of babies for the first six months of life which is the vital and indispensable factor for survival and growth of children. In would only perpetuate child mortality and malnutrition in the country. This is unjust and violates the fundamental right to equality.”
The Right to Food campaign, too, has criticized the recommendation denying the nutritional support to children, “It is now widely recognised that such disincentives do not contribute to population stabilisation and only violate the rights of women and children. India’s fertility rate has been steadily declining and anyway approaching the level of population stabilisation.” The campaign added, “It is shocking to learn that the committee obliterated legal guarantees to the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and anganwadis on grounds of programmatic and operational gaps in the scheme. This undermines the Supreme Court orders and the advise of hundreds of experts and campaigns that wrote to the Committee on the importance of universalising the ICDS services.”
Oddly, it was on the advice of the Union ministry for women and child development that the standing committee decided to keep ICDS out of the list of legal entitlements under the bill. The ministry told the committee, “The scheme is confronted with programmatic and operational gaps which would need to be addressed first.”

 

 

#India-The right to food security #mustread


BMJ 2012; 345 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e8273 (Published 10 December 2012)

Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e8273
  1. Veena Shatrugna, formerly deputy director, National Institute of Nutrition1,
  2. R Srivatsan, senior fellow2

Author Affiliations

  1. veenashatrugna@yahoo.com

Communities must push back against global policy decisions that fuel Third World hunger

The report from the Right to Food and Nutrition Watch published during October 2012 considered the effects of globalised food policies on populations in the Third World.1 It offered a very different perspective on food insecurity than that provided by official United Nations/World Bank documents. The authors of the report considered food security in light of social determinants of nutrition, such as food availability, agricultural policy, land transactions, cropping patterns, and agricultural finance. The report focused on the lack of accountability of large food producers that also own vast tracts of land to the people who face hunger and who have a right to food. Their damning indictment is that “the right to food of people around the planet has primacy over the need to fuel cars and economies in the European Union or North America.”

The report included a review of the progress of the Committee on World Food Security (an international body set up by the UN) after it was reformed in 2009 to include people’s organisations. The report stressed the importance of keeping the right to food as a benchmark in policy decisions. The World Trade Organization routinely takes major policy decisions that affect communities’ right to food without due consideration. Other offenders include international investment groups that negotiate the terms of bilateral trade agreements, public-private partnerships that promote directly delivered medicalised nutritional intervention, and those that engage in speculative trading in food. The report reviewed finance capital in agribusiness and outlined the devastating effects on poverty of speculative trading in food. Speculation on food prices has resulted in dangerously volatile food prices since 2007. Agribusiness trades through individual contracts and with little market transparency. The source of finance is surplus funds in the West, but speculation wreaks havoc and impoverishment in the Third World.

The report also presents several case studies that are eye openers to what happens on the ground. They illustrate, for example, how coercive land acquisition (grabbing)—a historical legacy of colonialism in the Arab Spring countries—and allocation of prime agricultural land to non-local industry cause food crises and impoverishment in agricultural communities. The increasing diversion of agricultural land away from food farming and to the cultivation of biofuels needed by Western countries is another major problem currently contributing to hunger in Africa. Widespread economic havoc has been caused in Mexico under the unfavourable North American Free Trade Agreement, which sees Mexico trading agricultural commodities with the United States.

India has had enormous growth in gross domestic product with no evidence of a trickle down effect. In 2006 it was estimated that 51.5% of Indian children were stunted and 54.9% were underweight. About 34.6% of adults reportedly had a body mass index of less than 18.5.2 It seems that there has been little recent change.

India’s long term food policies have resulted in an epidemic of stunting and decreased muscle mass in the children of poor families. Indian national policy has for decades emphasised cheap cereals as the major source of energy for its population. In a 1968 publication, nutrition experts suggested that a mixture of cheap foods like cereals, pulses, and vegetables could provide a mixture of amino acids that was very nearly as good as if animal proteins were consumed.3 This particular statement was reproduced in the 1971 edition of the Indian National Institute of Nutrition’s report Nutritive Value of Indian Foods and every reprint until the latest in 2011. Furthermore, it has influenced policies on food and wages, including the calculation and classification of the “poverty line.”

In 1970, people were regarded as being above the poverty line if they could afford to consume 10 042 kJ (2400 kcal) daily from the cheapest food source. Minimum wages were then calculated to provide this level of intake for a family of five on the assumption that they would consume cheap cereals. The famous “myth of protein gap,” based on an observation in 1971 that undernourished children (1670-2090 kJ daily deficit) could consume adequate protein (20 g/day) from cereal if only “they ate more of their usual foods,” changed the way the diets of poor adults and children were regarded.4 Promotion of a cereal-pulse vegetarian diet effectively removed animal proteins from Indian diets.3 Even consumption of pulses diminished over time. The more affluent vegetarians, a minority, consumed adequate daily protein requirements through sources such as milk and almonds.

In addition to widespread malnutrition and stunting, which underpins negative metabolic consequences in adulthood, more than 70% of women and children in India have anaemia and deficiencies in intakes of most vitamins and minerals.2Against this background of chronic poor nutrition, more food shortages have worsened malnutrition and hunger in the Indian population. A more recent concern in India, however, is the complex association between adult onset obesity and food insecurity. Accumulating evidence suggests that, although severe food insecurity leads to wasting, mild to moderate food insecurity is associated with obesity.5 This hunger induced morbidity pattern will continue to plague India for decades.

The Right to Food and Nutrition Watch 2012 report concludes by discussing how hungry people can regain control over those decisions that affect their food and nutritional situation. The authors highlight several successes, including the first international instrument that applied a human rights approach to agree on tenure of natural resources—the new Guidelines on Responsible Governance on Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests. These guidelines were adopted in May 2012 by the Committee on World Food Security after an inclusive and participatory process. They urge communities to occupy the newly created political spaces for inclusive decision making on food and nutrition.

Notes

Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e8273

Footnotes

  • Competing interests: Both authors have completed the ICMJE uniform disclosure form at www.icmje.org/coi_disclosure.pdf (available on request from the corresponding author) and declare: no support from any organisation for the submitted work; no financial relationships with any organisations that might have an interest in the submitted work in the previous three years; no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work.

  • Provenance and peer review: Commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.

References

  1. Right to Food and Nutrition Watch. Who decides about global food and nutrition? Strategies to regain control. 2012. www.rtfn-watch.org/fileadmin/media/rtfn-watch.org/ENGLISH/pdf/Watch_2012/R_t_F_a_N_Watch_2012_eng_web_rz.pdf.
  2. National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau. Diet and nutritional status of population and prevalence of hypertension among adults in rural areas. Technical report 24. National Institute of Nutrition, 2006. www.nnmbindia.org/NNMBReport06Nov20.pdf.
  3. Gopalan C, Rama Sastri BV, Balasubramanian SC. Nutritive value of Indian foods. National Institute of Nutrition, 2011.
  4. Gopalan C, Narasinga Rao BS. Nutritional constraints on growth and development in current Indian dietaries. Indian J Med Res1971;59:111-22.
  5. Townsend MS, Peerson J, Love B, Achterberg C, Murphy SP. Food insecurity is positively related to overweight in women. J Nutr2001;131:1738-45.

Human rights are the best weapon to combat hunger, report says


A report by civil society groups says it is impossible to tackle the causes of hunger if existing power relations remain untouched

MDG : Human rights and food security : A Indian youth eats food distributed by local charity, India

An Indian boy eats food distributed by a charity outside a temple in Delhi. Photograph: Kevin Frayer/AP

Human rights are the most powerful tool to ensure efforts against hungerand malnutrition tackle structural causes and are not reduced to short-term strategies, civil society groups said in a report published on Tuesday.

Who Decides About Global Food and Nutrition? – Strategies to Regain Control argues that it is impossible to combat the causes of hunger while keeping existing power relations untouched.

“Food and power are related. It is almost impossible to find one person among the powerful in society and politics worldwide who does not have enough to eat,” said Huguette Akplogan-Dossa, regional co-ordinator of the African Network on the Right to Food (ANoRF). “The tendency is for exclusion from economic and political decision-making to go hand in hand with incidences of hunger and malnutrition.”

The report expresses particular concern about the increasing influence and control of agribusinesses and financial companies over food and nutrition.

“Far too often, agribusinesses and nutrition companies use their weight and influence to increase their profit margins, and to manipulate the rules to their interests and convenience, without regard for the best interests of small-scale food producers and the survival of their communities – let alone the moral and legal requirements of the human right to food,” said Peter Prove, executive director of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance.

The report points to a faultline in how to deal with food security – access to safe and nutritious food. There is the “mainstream approach” favoured by governments and international organisations, such as Agra, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, and backed by the Gates Foundation, which focuses on technocratic approaches – better seeds and technology – to boost productivity and access to markets. This week, Agra is holding a forum in Arusha, Tanzania, on plans for developing Africa’s agricultural sector.

However, the civil society groups behind the fifth annual report on the right to food and nutrition put the emphasis on a rights-based approach. They say an agricultural system that features large US and EU farm subsidies, along with a concentration of power among a few grain giants such as ADM, Cargill and Bunge (the main corporate beneficiaries of US food aid), contribute to food insecurity in poor countries.

“Allowing decision-making to be in the hands of a powerful but reduced group has led to a centralised model of food supply, which in many cases results in famines, political abuse, or infringement on the state’s basic obligations when it comes to human rights: to respect, protect and fulfil them,” the report says.

The report sees negative corporate influence at work in the Scaling Up Nutrition (Sun) initiative, involving a $2.9bn plan to promote good nutritional practices with $6.2bn on preventing and treating malnutrition with special foods. Backed by the UN, the scheme has the support ofGain, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition. Gain’s partners include food giants such as PepsiCo, Kraft and Danone.

The UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier de Schutter, while welcoming the progress on Sun, has pointed out how the private sector tries to use technical solutions for what are fundamentally social problems. De Schutter has called on countries committed to scaling up nutrition to begin by regulating the marketing of commercial infant formula and other breast-milk substitutes. He has also noted the tension between a strategy that promotes processed foods, enriched with nutrients to the point that diets become “medicalised”, and one that promotes local and regional food systems, as well as a shift towards less heavily processed and more nutritious food.

A chapter in the report, written by Marcos Arana Cedeño and Xaviera Cabada, cites the vigorous promotion of soft drinks on school premises in Mexico by companies – endorsed by many school authorities, which provide space for sales and advertising in exchange for school supplies or financial benefits. They note the serious problems in Mexico’s regions with large indigenous populations, where obesity rates are growing faster within the poorest quintile.

“It is precisely in these indigenous regions where the most aggressive and unregulated marketing practices of sweetened soft drinks take place,” the authors write. These practices include a 35% price cut, promotion in Spanish and indigenous languages, and numerous sales outlets within and around schools.

Civil society groups are making themselves heard on the issues surrounding food security and hunger. After years of negotiations involving governments, international organisations and civil society groups under the UN’s Committee on World Food Security. The body officially endorsed the voluntary guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests in the context of national food security.

The guidelines promote secure tenure rights and equitable access to land, fisheries and forests as a means of eradicating hunger and poverty, supporting sustainable development and enhancing the environment. They contain provisions to protect local communities, indigenous peoples and vulnerable groups from land speculation and land concentration.

“With the reform of the Committee on World Food Security, an innovative way of inclusive governance has been established. It has been a breakthrough for those civil society groups that traditionally have been excluded from decision-making processes on all levels,” said Flavio Valente, secretary general of advocacy group Fian Internationa

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