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INDIA: Two-year-old girl may die of malnutrition in Uttar Pradesh

Anjali, daughter of Mr. Shiv Nath Bhar, is two years old. On 4 January 2008, Anjali was identified to be suffered from Grade III malnutrition at the Primary Health Centre (PHC) of Baragaon Block. The medical report was verified by the Anganwadi worker Ms. Pushpa Tiwari who registered Anjali at the Anganwari Centre (Child care centre). Anjali has been suffering from starvation since the past few months.

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – HUNGER ALERT PROGRAMME

Hunger Alert Case: AHRC-HAC-002-2008

18 February 2008
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INDIA: Two-year-old girl may die of malnutrition in Uttar Pradesh

ISSUES: Right to food; lack of livelihood; failure of food distribution system
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the case of two-year-old girl, Anjali, who may die of malnutrition in Belwa village, Baragaon Block of Varanasi district in Uttar Pradesh state. The AHRC has been informed by the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), a local human rights organisation working in Uttar Pradesh state that Anjali is suffering from Grade III malnutrition.

CASE DETAILS:

Anjali, daughter of Mr. Shiv Nath Bhar, is two years old. On 4 January 2008, Anjali was identified to be suffered from Grade III malnutrition at the Primary Health Centre (PHC) of Baragaon Block. The medical report was verified by the Anganwadi worker Ms. Pushpa Tiwari who registered Anjali at the Anganwari Centre (Child care centre). Anjali has been suffering from starvation since the past few months.

Anjali's family belongs to the Bhar community in Belwa village. The Bhar, a lower caste in India, is known to be the most marginalised among the backward communities. According to the local human rights activists, the Bhar is often discriminated as being referred to as a criminal caste group.

Anjali's father Shiv Nath is finding it difficult to manage daily food for his family members. Shiv Nath is working at a brick kiln run by Mr. Rajendra Prasad Tripathi. Tripathi is the village head of Belwa village. Shiv Nath is paid 600 INR (17.7 USD) per month which is also not regularly paid and is far below the statutory minimum wage stipulated by the state government. The brick kiln run by Tripathi is notorious for bonded labour. For more information, please refer to AHRC-UAU-004-2008.

Shiv Nath is also earning 180 INR (4.5 USD) per month from selling milk. However, Shiv Nath's total monthly income is not enough to feed his family. Shiv Nath has a red ration card (No. 35832) with which he can get rice and wheat from the ration shop at 95 INR (2.4 USD) each month. The food grains obtained from the ration shop is not sufficient for the family to survive. Additionally, it is also alleged that the management of the ration shop suffers from corruption.

The ration shop for Belwa village is managed by Mr. Ramesh Singh. He is the Secretary of the Public Food Distribution System (PDS) Cooperative. The shop opens everyday but distributes the ration only for two days a month i.e. on the 6 and 7 days of the each month. Moreover, it is reported that the shop manager Mr. Singh cheats the customers by weighing three kilograms less than the assigned rations when he sells the rationed articles. Shiv Nath is so poor that he cannot even afford the subsidized price. Since it is more difficult for him to make 95 INR on either 6 or 7 of each month, he has to borrow money to buy the ration.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

The PDS of India is known as one of the largest public food distribution system in the world. The PDS which was originally conceived as a universal food distribution system in India was later reduced to 'a targeted PDS' in 1997 with an alleged intention to reduce loss and corruption. The assumption was that several unqualified persons were taking benefits of the PDS thereby depriving the poor from getting the benefits of the PDS. In actual implementation the statistical data that was depended upon to identify the targeted population for 'the targeted PDS' was the poverty line.

The poverty line, a statistical profile, derived through the census data was manipulated by the states/provinces thereby numerically limiting the number of beneficiaries of the PDS. Thus in practice the targeted PDS only reduced the number of beneficiaries of the PDS but failed to address the corruption in the PDS. The PDS in India is considered to be the second most corrupt system in India next to the police.

As the above case of Anjali shows, a malfunction of the ration shop in Belwa village explains that the ration shop has not been supervised by either the local government or the village head. Along with the negligence of the relevant local administrative authority, the law enforcement agency also neglects the corruption in the PDS. Despite the corruption in dealing with rationed articles is a crime in India under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, the corruption remains unabated.

The AHRC has pointed out the failure of the PDS by the corruption and negligence of local government and police since past few years. For more information, please see HA-004-2007 and AL-001-2007.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write to the authorities mentioned below expressing your concern in this case. Please urge the relevant authorities in India to immediately attend to the living condition of Anjali's family, and the food distribution system in Belwa village. The AHRC is also writing a separate letter to the UN Special rapporteur on the Right to Food calling for an intervention in this case.

To support this appeal, please click here:

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SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

INDIA: Please save two-year-old girl Anjali Bhar from starvation

Name of victim: Anjali Bhar, aged two years, daughter of Mr. Shiv Nath Bhar, resident of Belwa village, Baragaon Administrative Block, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh state
Date of incident: Since 4 January 2008
Place of incident: Belwa village, Baragaon Administrative Block, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh state

I am writing to express my concern regarding the case of Anjali who is suffering from Grade III malnutrition in Belwa village of Baragaon Block, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh.

I am informed that Anjali's father, Shiv Nath is finding it difficult to manage daily food to support his family. He is earning 780 INR per month from working at a brick kiln and selling milk. I am also informed that Shiv Nath is irregularly paid by the brick kiln owner, Mr. Rajendra Prasad Tripathi.

Tripathi is the village head of Belwa village who is supposed to be responsible for the village development and the social welfare of the villagers. It has been reported, however, that the village head Tripathi is notorious for bonded labour and corruption.

I have learned that Shiv Nath's irregular monthly income is far below the minimum wage stipulated by the state government. Thus despite Shiv Nath has a red ration card with which he can get rations from the ration shop at a low price, it is hard for him to buy ration owing to his poverty.

I am also informed that the ration shop manager, Mr. Ramesh Singh distributes the ration to the villagers only on the 6 and 7 days of each month and also used to weigh less than the assigned rations when he sell the rations. I have learned that this corruption in dealing with rationed articles is a crime in India under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.

Therefore I urge you to take immediate action regarding the case so that two-year-old Anjali receives immediate help. I further urge you to take all necessary action to prevent the corruption in the ration shop in Belwa. Eradicating the corruption in food distribution of Belwa village will ensure that the other children in Belwa will not suffer from malnutrition.

Yours sincerely,


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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Ms. Mayawati
Chief Minister
Chief Minister's Secretariat
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
INDIA
Fax: + 91 522 223 0002 / 223 9234
E-mail: csup@up.nic.in

2. Secretary to the Government
Uttar Pradesh State Government
5th Floor – Lal Bahadur Sastri Bhavan
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
INDIA

3. The Secretariat
The Right to Food Campaign – India
Q - 21-B, Top Floor, Jungpura Extn
New Delhi – 110014
INDIA
E-mail: righttofood@gmail.com 

4. The Regional Director
World Food Programme
Unit No. 2, 7th Floor, Wave Place Building
55 Wireless Road
Lumpini, Patumwan, Bangkok 10330
THAILAND
Fax: +66 2 655 4413

5. The Country Director
World Food Programme
2 Poorvi Marg, Vasant Vihar,
New Delhi 110057
INDIA
Fax: +91 112 615 0019
E-mail: wfp.newdelhi@wfp.org

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme

Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrchk.org)
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