The body mass index of 31.6 percent of the women and 23.8 percent of the men is below normal in Jharkhand, the case of hunger death has been lifted many times in recent times, though every time the government denies it. According to a recent National Family Health Survey 2015-16 report, the body mass index of 31.6 percent of women and 23.8 percent of men in Jharkhand is below normal.
Social security laws and schemes such as public distribution system, pension and MNREGA are the same for such families. In Jharkhand, the families which have got jobs in MNREGA, have received only 40 days of employment per year.
At least 14.5 lakh elderly citizens (according to 2011 census) of the state are not getting Social Security Pension. Those who have been found, they neither get on time nor get sufficient amount (only 600 rupees per month). After implementation of the National Food Security Act in Jharkhand, 86 percent of the state’s rural families were entitled for ration, but due to the implementation of the system of based-based biometric verification in the public distribution system from 2016, people are being deprived of ration on a large scale.
According to the government data and some independent researchers, due to the arrangement of biometric verification, at least 10-20 percent of the families are being deprived of ration. Also, such ration cards which are not linked to the Aadhaar have been canceled as defective or duplicate (according to the government 11.6 lakh cards have been canceled).
In such a situation, it was hoped that eliminating hunger system in Jharkhand would be the top priority of the state government. But the state government’s response to hunger-related deaths and the recently introduced budget give some other signals. According to the government, these deaths are due to diseases such as malaria and malaria. The food supply minister promises to include pulses and edible oils in the public distribution system from time to time, but in the budget there is no provision for these nutritious substances. Budget of Old Social Security Pension has been reduced by more than last year.
For the first time in Jharkhand, Opposition parties raised the question of starvation for several days in front of the assembly and the media. At the same time, many parties also held demonstrations on the issues of ration, MNREGA and pension on block and district levels. But over time, the attention of the opposition seems to be weakening on these issues.
Today Jharkhand needs comprehensive politics on hunger. It is to see if the opposition parties are ready for long battle for the state and politics for these issues. It is also to see that in the next assembly elections, people ask accountability from the side and the opposition on questions of hunger and public welfare schemes.