Oxfam India launches food justice bulletin along with the Institute of development Studies (IDS), calls for assessing government's commitment to hunger
Despite enormous growth in economic and political power, 46 per cent of Indian children are malnourished, and 1 in 3 of the world’s hungry live in India. Yet India stands on the threshold of potentially the largest step toward food justice the world has ever seen, as the National Food Security Bill works its way through parliament with a view to being passed during its current term, covering about 70 per cent of households.
At this critical juncture, Oxfam India and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) have brought out a new Food Justice bulletin, which examines the issue of food justice in India. Standing on the Threshold: Food Justice in India’ brings together the views of some of India’s leading practitioners and academics. It addresses key questions including how to ensure the rights of marginalised people are protected, how to empower women and how to assess government commitments to reducing hunger.
The food Justice bulletin is being published as part of the Grow campaign, which is Oxfam’s new campaign for better ways to grow, share, and live together. A campaign for the billions of us who eat food and over a billion men and women who grow it, to share solutions for a more hopeful future in which everyone always has enough to eat.
Talking about the food justice bulletin and the Grow campaign in India, Nisha Agrawal, CEO, Oxfam India, says: "Sixty years on, unfortunately, hunger and malnutrition remain major issues in India. About 44 per cent of Indian children under age five are underweight and 48% are stunted. Because of the country’s large population, India is home to 42% of the world’s underweight children and 31 per cent of its stunted children. On IFPRIs Global Hunger Index, while China has a rank of 9 with only moderate levels of hunger, India has a rank of 67 with “alarming” levels of hunger.’’
This special bulletin is introduced by Prof Olivier De Schutter, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. The editors of the special bulletin are Prof Lawrence Haddad, Director, IDS-Sussex, Prof CP Chandrasekhar, leading macroeconomist and professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Ms Biraj Swain, lead of the Food Justice Campaign for Oxfam India.
"The food justice agenda is a 'here and now' issue. It is best claimed by activist civil society, leveraging the law courts and the court of public opinion,'' says Prof Lawrence Haddad. According to C.P. Chandrasekhar, ordinary people must be at the heart of the debate about what food justice means, how to attain it and how to sustain it.
In his introduction to the bulletin, Prof. De Schutter says "This unique collection of essays by the best commentators on the situation of food security and the right to food in India, provides us with an indispensable tool to understand the challenges that these movements now have a responsibility to address. "The earlier barriers are falling. New alliances are forged – between the urban and the rural and within the rural world between farmworkers and independent small food producers, between farmers from the North and farmers from the South, and between actors in the food system who have been traditionally repressed and elements of the State who have often been absent from the formulation of policies,'' he points out.
India being a strategic country for the Grow campaign, and last year, the campaign was launched simultaneously in New Delhi and five other cities in India—Guwahati, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Mumbai, and Patna. A booklet entitled "ten recipes for food for all'' was published outlining the key asks of the campaign in India.
Further throwing light on the ten recipes, the Bulletin brings together a unique selection of original contributions by foremost commentators and practitioners on the situation of food security, the right to food and a just food system in India. Stemming from India, the fourteen essays speak to the present promises and challenges well beyond the country’s boundaries, offering a roadmap and solutions that will be instrumental to advance the food justice agenda across the world – a unique and indispensable tool with truly global relevance.
The bulletin was launched at a high-level event in Delhi on July 17. The event had brought together the contributors of the Bulletin along with top government representatives, specialists and academics, prominent media personalities and key civil society actors. We want to host a broad and informed discussion on the prospects and challenges raised in this seminal publication, and define the next steps of the food justice fight in India and globally.