Health Cell Call Oct 15 2017
Attending: Mohan, Aravinda, Teena, Vasu
Unfortunately our scheduled guest speaker had an emergency at home and could not join the call.
We took the time to talk about the issue of hunger and nutrition in India.
The Right to Food campaign has filed an online petition opposing current proposals of the government to replace supplementary nutrition provided at anganwadi centres with cash transfers or packaged foods.
The petition states that:
This move would undermine India’s fight against malnutrition as well as women’s employment. Recent experience with cash transfers (from NREGA wage payments and pension schemes to cash-transfer experiments in Chandigarh and Puducherry) does not give any confidence that cash grants will be disbursed in a timely manner in this case, or that women will have convenient access to their bank accounts, or that the money will be wisely used for nutrition purposes. Cash transfers in place of supplementary nutrition would also violate the National Food Security Act (NFSA), which clearly states that all children under six years of age and pregnant/lactating women will be given one free meal a day through the anganwadi centres. The Schedule II of the NFSA (Annexure 1) clearly states that children in the 3 to 6 year old age group shall be given one snack and a meal each day and the other beneficiary groups take home rations.
Mohan noted that our statement should include references with precise information backing up our position.
Teena noted that she had encountered similar circumstances during her work in Madagascar with the Peace Corps.
Vasu mentioned that they had also discussed this issue with Dr. Reethika Khera, an economist from IIT-D who is a visiting faculty at Stanford. Her work focuses on social policy issues including hunger, nutrition, public health, corruption, and basic education in India. Her research has shaped several policy debates around India’s public services.
She recommended that we view the following video concerning the linking of the PDS to the Adhaar card.
Aahaar Ya Aadhaar, published by the Channel Hard Work, No Pay:
She is also planning to organize a conference call with Dr. Khera and Dr. Yogesh Jain so that AID volunteers can learn more about the Public Distribution System.
Action Item: Draft a statement with reference on this issue for AID to release.
We also discussed the recent news that India’s ranking on the Global Hunger Index which was 97th last year, has this year fallen to 100th.
We asked how this time – Sunday morning 11 EST worked for people. One member asked for a later time, 1pm EST. We will try this time going forward.