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LETTERS

Issn 0012-9976
Ever since the first issue in 1966,
EPW has been India’s premier journal for Scientist and Sage the stipulated period of four months, but
comment on current affairs
and research in the social sciences.
the issue was neglected. Hence, Agrawal
It succeeded Economic Weekly (1949–1965),
which was launched and shepherded
by Sachin Chaudhuri,
who was also the founder-editor of EPW.
O n 11 October 2018, Swami Sanand,
earlier known as G D Agrawal, passed
away on the 111th day of his fast at Rishi-
began his fast on 22 June 2018.
After this, some ministers came and
went. Messages were exchanged with
As editor for 35 years (1969–2004)
Krishna Raj kesh in Uttarakhand. union government representatives. But,
gave EPW the reputation it now enjoys. He was widely regarded as a leading clearly matters were not resolved to his
Editor authority on the steps that need to be satisfaction, and Agrawal’s fast continued.
GOPAL GURU
taken for the protection of the Ganga It is sad that while the government
Executive Editor
Lina Mathias river. He had earlier made an important claims the protection of the Ganga to be
SENIOR Assistant editorS
contribution as member secretary of the a top priority, a sage–scientist with the
lubna duggal Central Pollution Control Board. Agrawal highest level of commitment to the cause
INDU K obtained a doctorate from the University had to die after fasting for 111 days,
Sunipa Dasgupta
copy editorS
of California, Berkeley and taught at the while raising demands relating to the
jyoti shetty Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur. protection of the river.
Tejas Harad Some of his students later emerged as A sincere and deep commitment to the
Assistant editor
important environmentalists. He was protection of all rivers with the involve-
Nachiket kulkarni
highly regarded by his students. ment of people and communities living
ASSISTANT Editor (DIGITAL)
SHIREEN AZAM In the later years of his life, he became near them is a serious requirement.
editorIAL Assistant a sage or a sanyasi, and devoted himself Wherever such dedicated efforts are
JEMIMAH GOMES fully to the protection of the Ganga. His made, Swami Sanand will be remembered
production fasts for protection of the river, in an with great respect.
u raghunathan
suneethi nair ecological sense, were backed by scien- Bharat Dogra
Circulation MANAGER tific evidence and he often quoted scien- New Delhi
B S Sharma tifically conducted studies. His fasts
Advertisement Manager cannot be criticised as a sage merely try- Malnutrition among Tribals
Kamal G Fanibanda
ing to have his say in an arbitrary way.
General Manager & Publisher
Gauraang Pradhan
CONSULTANT (PublishING)
K Vijayakumar
His main demand related to the imple-
mentation of a report on the protection
of the Ganga, which had been prepared
T his is with reference to the article,
“Food Insecurity and Malnutrition
among Santhal Children in Jharkhand”
editorial: edit@epw.in by a committee constituted by the pre- by Manjari Sinha (EPW, 15 September
Circulation: circulation@epw.in
sent government. 2018). The proverbial visitors from Mars
Advertising: advertisement@epw.in
Another demand of his, for a relook at may wonder why malnutrition among
Economic & Political Weekly
320–322, A to Z Industrial Estate some highly dubious hydel projects in tribal communities in India has reached
Ganpatrao Kadam Marg, Lower Parel
Mumbai 400 013
the Himalayan region, was also quite horrifying proportions, and why these
Phone: (022) 4063 8282 reasonable in view of the widespread communities have such extraordinarily
opposition to these projects by other large numbers of stunted children even
EPW Research Foundation
EPW Research Foundation, established in 1993, conducts environmentalists. Again, he did not after inhabiting forest areas which are
research on financial and macro-economic issues in India.
have any arbitrary demands, but only rich in natural foods, and despite constitu-
Director
J DENNIS RAJAKUMAR requested greater debate on these pro- tional protection.
C 212, Akurli Industrial Estate jects and the ceasing of all construction
Kandivali (East), Mumbai 400 101
Phones: (022) 2887 3038/41 until then. This demand can be consid-
epwrf@epwrf.in ered even more reasonable after the
Sameeksha TrusT experience of the Kerala floods.
(Publishers of Economic & Political Weekly) In addition, Agrawal wanted those
Board of Trustees Through EPW Engage,
Deepak Nayyar, Chairman persons sincerely involved in the protec-
our new digital initiative, we seek to
D N Ghosh, Managing Trustee tion of the Ganga to be given a consultative
explore new and exciting possibilities
André Béteille, Deepak Parekh, role in the endeavour. Broadly, these are
Romila Thapar, Rajeev Bhargava, of communicating research in a
Dipankar Gupta, Shyam Menon, the demands he raised in a letter to the
creative and accessible manner
N Jayaram Prime Minister on 24 February 2018, add-
to a wider audience.
Printed and published by Gauraang Pradhan, for and ing that if these were not met, he would
on behalf of Sameeksha Trust and printed at
Modern Arts and Industries, 151, A–Z Industrial Estate, begin a fast four months later. Given his
Ganpatrao Kadam Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai–400 013
stature and grasp on this issue, it should www.epw.in/engage
and published at 320–322, A–Z Industrial Estate,
Ganpatrao Kadam Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai–400 013
have been possible to resolve this matter in
Editor: Gopal Guru (Editor responsible for
selection of news under the PRB Act) consultation with him and others within
4 octoBER 20, 2018 vol lIii no 42 EPW Economic & Political Weekly
LETTERS
After analysing the National Census food security, it fails to ensure nutri- ration cards were cancelled and those
Report 2001, National Health Survey tional security for malnourished tribals. whose names were struck off the pension
2005–06 and other related data, Nobel Jaydev Jana lists for not linking their Aadhaar, should
Laureate in Economics, Angus Deaton con- Kolkata be made public immediately and their
cluded that the average height of Indians rations and pensions restarted with imme-
has increased. Interestingly, at a time Starvation in Jharkhand diate effect. (iii) PDS should be made uni-
when the rest of India is witnessing versal in rural areas, and particularly vul-
an increase in height, tribal people are
becoming shorter. This countrywide decre-
ase in height among tribal communities
E xactly a year ago, 11-year-old Santoshi
Kumari of Simdega died of starvation
while asking her mother for rice. Her
nerable tribal group (PVTG) families and
single women should be given Antyodaya
cards. (iv) Private ration dealers should be
has also been established. Also, the effects family’s ration card was cancelled for not removed immediately and replaced with
of disease-related malnutrition (DRM) con- being linked to Aadhaar. In the last one gram panchayat/women’s organisations.
tinue throughout life, and recovery is year, at least 15 people have died due to (v) To improve the situation of nutrition in
not easy. Tribal malnutrition is indeed a hunger. Of these, six were Adivasis, four the state, pulses and edible oils should be
hidden epidemic. Dalits, and five hailing from backward made available at affordable rates in the
The present situation is a reflection of castes. All these deaths happened due to PDS. (vi) The maternity benefit entitle-
multiple deprivations that the tribal the denial of security pensions or rations ment should be increased from `5,000
population has faced over the years. from the public distribution system (PDS). (under the Pradhan Mantri Matru Van-
Earlier, tribal communities used to gather Of these, five families did not even dana Yojana) to `6,000 as mandated in
varieties of non-conventional staple foods, have a ration card and five families faced the National Food Security Act, 2013. It
wild vegetables, fruits, honey and edi- sustained issues with the Aadhaar-based should also not be restricted only to the
ble flowers, apart from hunting wild ani- biometric authentication (ABBA), leading first child. (vii) All pregnant and lactat-
mals. Today the situation has changed to denial of rations. In addition, six people ing women should be given five eggs per
completely. Tribal communities have been were denied their social security pen- week. (viii) All children should be given
ousted from forests. The Statistical Profile sions. In 10 cases, Aadhaar-related issues five eggs per week in anganwadis and
of Scheduled Tribes in India, 2013 by played a role in the hunger deaths. mid-day meals. (ix) Anganwadis should
the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs The issue of starvation and malnutrition be established in all hamlets of the state,
reports that 72% of tribal women do not is not restricted to only these families. A the education system in anganwadis
have access to even one fruit in a week. fair share of Jharkhand’s population does should be strengthened, and children
This apart, the quality of food being not get sufficient nutrition. Close to 40% should be served hot-cooked food in-
supplied through the Integrated Child of under-five children are malnourished. stead of ready-to-eat food. (x) All elderly,
Development Services scheme to mal- The Jharkhand government has not widow, and disabled persons in the
nourished children and pregnant moth- initiated any action to stop the persistent state should be given a social security
ers is also substandard. starvation deaths in the state. Deleted pension of at least `2,000 per month on
Causes of stunting can be traced to before ration cards have not been reinstated, the time. (xi) Jharkhand’s Mahatma Gandhi
pregnancy, when an adolescent girl who ABBA system has not been discontinued, National Rural Employment Guarantee
later becomes a mother is undernourished left-out families have not been provided Scheme (MGNREGS) wage rate should be
and anaemic. It worsens when the infant’s ration cards and Aadhaar continues to increased to at least the state’s minimum
diet is poor, and when sanitation and remain mandatory for welfare schemes. wage. (xii) All households should be given
hygiene facilities are inadequate. Growth To stop starvation deaths in Jharkhand, the right to 200 days of work per year
stunting in childhood is a risk factor for the Right to Food Campaign demands under the MGNREGS. (xiii) All MGNREGS
increased mortality, poor cognitive and the following: workers should be paid within 15 days
motor development, and other impair- (i) Aadhaar should not be mandatory for under any circumstances.
ments in function. The “Barker hypothesis” any welfare scheme and ABBA should be Right to Food Campaign
posits that “maternal dietary imbalances discontinued. (ii) The list of families whose Jharkhand
at critical periods of development of the
womb can trigger an adaptive redistribu-
tion of foetal resources (including growth EPW Engage
retardation).” Such adaptations affect The following articles have been published in the past week in the EPW Engage section (www.epw.in/engage).
foetal structure and metabolism in ways (1) From Farm to Plate: Why You Should Worry About the Distance Your Food Travels—Vanishree M, Sendhil R
that predispose the individual to cardio- (2) In Bengaluru’s Gated Communities, New Forms of Civil Engagement Are Emerging—Hemangini Gupta
vascular and endocrine diseases later on. (3) Harassment Cannot Continue Unchecked in Indian Newsrooms Anymore: Women Journalists Stand in
Solidarity—Network of Women in Media, India
The problem of tribal malnutrition
(4) Brahminical Gulabjaam: Cultural Critique of a Film—Madhuri Dixit
cannot be solved by providing subsidised
(5) The Conservation Discourse in Assam Must Consider a Sustainable Rehabilitation Plan for the Mising Tribe
food through the public distribution —Bhasker Pegu, Manoranjan Pegu
system (PDS) alone. While PDS may assure
Economic & Political Weekly EPW octoBER 20, 2018 vol lIii no 42 5
LETTERS
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6 octoBER 20, 2018 vol lIii no 42 EPW Economic & Political Weekly