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Freedom from hunger: privilege granted or acknowledged right? January 29, 2014

Posted by southasiamasala in : Guest authors, Pakistan, South Asia - General , comments closed

Aly Ercelan and Muhammad Ali Shah

“Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food.”

A recent publication of Rome-based UN agencies (FAO along with IFAD and WFP of the UN) aiming at global food security is worth a serious commentary for several reasons. One is the odious South Asian situation, which includes Pakistan, of socially imposed mass hunger and malnutrition, which affectsnot just women and men but also children. If there is a single issue that defines development, then it is the situation of children today and tomorrow (as UNICEF rightly underscores). Their under- and mal-nourishment leads to untimely death of hundreds of thousands before the age of five. Survivors face a cruel future in which both body and brain remain wasted and stunted. What then is the point of investing social resources in universal schooling? Avoiding hunger often leads to employment of children in distressingly hazardous conditions and at ruthlessly exploitative wages. Government commits funds for abolition of “worst forms of child labour” but what benefit can they have when their disbursement excludes full and productive employment of their parents?

A second reason is that the FAO retains an overwhelming influence upon sub-continental professional advisors as bureaucrats and consultants, even among those who are not obviously beholden to Washington. Thirdly, food security should be included in the post-2015 agenda for universal accountability of states and the international community to citizens. In fact, food security targets may well encompass necessary commitments in education and health.

This review summarises the FAO report – The State of Food Insecurity in the World  with an emphasis upon South Asian conditions. Its policy guidelines are to be examined critically in a follow up article, through a lens provided by another recent study – Alternatives & Resistance to Policies that Generate Hunger (by the Right to Food & Nutrition Watch.


Shashi Tharoor’s ‘new India': Foreign policy, citizen engagement and new media April 30, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : Dash, Kamala Kanta, India , comments closed

Kamala Kanta Dash

Thanks for all the support & good wishes. U folks are the New India. We will “be the change” we wish to see in our country. But not without pain! (Posted on Twitter, 16 April 2010)

This message is from Dr Shashi’s Tharoor’s twitter after he got embroiled in a controversy over allegedly using his public office for private gain by possibly using his ‘good friend’ Ms. Sunanda Pushkar as a shadow bidder/shareholder for the Kochi (Kerala) team in the cash rich Twenty-20 cricket tournament of Indian Premier League (IPL).

Dr Tharoor is a former Junior Minister in the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India a former UN Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information and a PhD from Fletcher School Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, USA. In this (twitter) post he introduced his idea of New India, referring to his followers with whom he has built a strong relationship of sharing information on his official activities and personal opinion on many issues. Tharoor has, in the meantime, resigned from his post as a junior minister in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) after requesting the Prime Minster to conduct a thorough enquiry to find out details of his involvement and other financial irregularities. Tharoor has defended his decision to support the Kochi (Kerala) team and has made it clear that he mentored the team and did not support for any personal monetary benefit. He defended his position in the parliament by saying ‘my conscience is clear and I have done nothing improper or unethical, less alone illegal.’ Many analysts in India and overseas feel that Tharoor has been made a sacrificial lamb in the IPL controversy. (more…)