Tuesday, June 10, 2008

'Malnutrition worse in India'

The BBC reports that "India has some of the highest rates of child malnutrition and mortality in under-fives in the world and Madhya Pradesh state has the highest levels in India."

In Madhya Pradesh there are about 10 million children and the Indian government's National Family Health Survey indicates that 60% are malnourished.

Dr. Vandana Agarwal, Unicef's nutrition specialist for Madhya Pradesh state, explains the crisis in the following terms:
"It's basically inadequate access to food, poor feeding practices, poor childcare practices.

In Madhya Pradesh the situation is compounded by two significant factors. For four years in a row the rains have failed, so food crops have failed too. And now global food prices have risen, stretching many families beyond breaking point.

In the past year food prices have increased significantly, but people's incomes haven't improved. Like wheat, earlier they used to buy it at eight rupees a kilogram, now it's 12 rupees.

Because of the increase in food prices a mother cannot buy an adequate quantity of milk, fruits and vegetables. So their staple diet has become wheat chapattis.

A child cannot survive on wheat chapattis alone. About 80% of mothers and children are anaemic because they can't get good quality food."
The situation in general on the African continent is similar, perhaps even worse in countries like Ethiopia and the Sudan.

In South Africa the danger of violent food riots should not be ignored. The African National Congress president, Jacob Zuma, has rightly raised the spectre of food riots.

The price of food is very quickly getting away from the purse of millions of poor people in South Africa and India, and that movement is inextricably tied to the price of petrol.

The complexity of the situation, a truly global one, is simply mind boggling.

Still, what strikes me is that the Malthusian dilemma is hardly the main reason why so much of the world stands at the precipice of starvation.

The agent of this tragic historical moment is in the main an outcome of the appetite of the West and its developmental colonization of the globe.

I intend to dance on the grave of neo-liberalism and its functionary, the nation-state.



Shus li said...

Ridwan, I could hug you right now if you weren't a half million kilometers away. Thank you for these words:

"I intend to dance on the grave of neo-liberalism and its functionary, the nation-state."

I am so sorry for the suffering of children and other little beings worldwide at the hands of the greedy, exploitive nation-states. May thye soon disappear and may liberation come to the earth.



Dade said...

The legacy of colonization lives on, to be sure, as now we see India and China charging ahead with their own exploitative forms of capitalism and economic exploitation. It seems that they have developed an appetite that mirrors that of the Europeans/Americans....the very people that wrought so much destruction upon them.

Ridwan said...

Thank you kindly for your comment sista Shusli.

I hear your words. It is way time for that liberation.

I will collect that hug in the very near future my sista :0)

Peace and struggle,

Ridwan said...

Dade you are absolutely right. What makes me furious is the way that China exploits Africa and there is hardly any noise made.

Our leaders are too eager to enter into deals with the likes of China, Taiwan, and India.

Deals that are supposed to be about development but as you say, this is just another round of colonialization.

Peace Dade,

Anonymous said...


You mention rightly 'complexity', 'global nature' and 'outcome of the appetite of the West'.

The mechanism to be targeted is how they achieve this. I have been thinking about how views/ideas/notions can be passed on as the truth or as a rational phenomenon.

One instance is that of 'prices'. Mainstream economics (globally) teaches us that it is rational for price to rise when the demand is more than the supply. Is it so?

Education, especially in India is very much Western. My hypothesis is that, by rationalising such price hikes, the West is able to get away with a lot of deeds.

Ridwan said...

Hello Alex:

Thanks very much for your comment.

You raise a very important question and I can see what you are driving at.

The West has a lot of influence and power to determine the value of just about anything.

I am saddened that so much of what we produce and consume outside of the west is rationalized as being of the west.

And in this context I can see how price hikes are rationalized as you say.

You have a very interesting blog by the way :0)

Where are you studying in India? I spent some time teaching at Jawarharlal Nehru University in 2006/07, therefore my question.


Anonymous said...


"The West has a lot of influence and power to determine the value of just about anything."

Yes. A lot of studies go on which attempt to puch holes in its roots, but the Western ones are very desired and also people (especially in India) are 'cuturally' attarcted to the notion of the West.

I am doing my masters in Economics at University of Hyderabad. So which Centre did you teach in? And how was the experience? [Which paper, as well?]

Ridwan said...

Alex I visited Hyderabad briefly on my way to Bangalore in 2006.

Beautiful city and a lot of history for sure.

I was the Nelson Mandela Professor and Chair of African Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi (2006/07).

I was in the Centre for Near Eastern and African Studies.

It was an absolute blast for me because the position allowed me to travel widely in India, also Nepal and Malaysia.

JNU is a wonderful institution that draws many students from everywhere in India.

I even encountered students from Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia.

I taught a class on African Politics and development to students enrolled in their doctoral program.

I also worked with students who were formulating their doctoral proposals.

It was a very enlightening experience for sure.

I wish you the very best in your studies. How much longer do you have to go?

Peace Alex

Anonymous said...


That is interesting. So, any plans to teach in other universities in India and around? :)

I have a year more left to complete my masters. I subsequently plan to do an Mphil or a Phd. So, I have a long way to go. :)

Ridwan said...

Alex I wish you well with your studies. You will no doubt be very successful for sure.

Academia is a wonderful profession and you have chosen to pursue. It has its ups and downs and is becoming more and more corporatized.

Still, getting paid for thinking is a very big bonus.

I do not have any immediate plans to teach in India. But I will return to visit and travel some more.

I have located the village where my grandparents came from 200 plus years ago in Gujurat.

Keep me posted on your doings Alex, I will look in your blog too.