‘Starvation Protocol’ Guidelines Would Help India’s Hunger Problem

In the final article of a six-part series titled “Starving in India” in the Wall Street Journal’s “India Real Time” blog, series author Ashwin Parulkar of the Centre for Equity Studies writes that the research conducted for the articles shows “that India needs a new legal framework for dealing with chronic hunger and starvation.” He notes that “[t]he draft version of the National Food Security Bill that is being considered by India’s Parliament would guarantee discounted food-grains to 50 percent of the urban population and 75 percent of the rural population.” While “[m]uch of the debate on the measure has been over its cost and scope, … my biggest problem with the bill is the way it deals with starvation,” leaving it up to state governments to identify starving individuals and provide them with two meals a day for six months, Parulkar writes.

He says the legislation provides neither a definition of starvation nor a long-term solution to the problem. “One way to go about fixing these issues would be to employ the ‘Starvation Protocol,’ a set of guidelines recommended by the National Advisory Council, a group of experts and academics who advise the government on policy,” Parulkar states and describes the protocol in detail. “The Protocol takes into account the complexity of India’s hunger problem, including socio-economic inequalities and matters of public health,” he writes, concluding, “It is time to tackle chronic hunger and starvation with vigor, to protect people’s fundamental right to live with dignity instead of accepting that India’s most vulnerable people may be condemned to die” (4/14).