Everybody Got a Hungry Heart

India has lately become known for its high tech, call center, Bollywood movie and car industries.  It draws the likes of Lindsay Lohan and used to draw the Beatles to its shores.  If there is some sort of thing that requires brain power, it has been outsourced to India.  Only a tiny fraction of the Indian population can have the opportunities that come form working in these well-paying jobs.  The rest of the millions toil away in poverty, often unable to feed themselves on a regular basis.  Because of not being able to feed themselves, they will never have the opportunity to seek out jobs that India is now famous.  In fact, they will likely suffer another generation of stunted growth and development.

My graduate work at Cornell University was on the right to food, so this topic is of special interest to me.  So, what prompted me to write this blog note that one of the largest English-language newspapers in India, the Hindustan Times is running a series on hunger in India called the “Hunger Project“.  The aim is to use the investigative resources of the paper to highlight what is fast becoming a hidden problem especially in the elite and rarefied English language world that the media occupy.  There are problems with the articles so far because they are attempting to shock the reader with specific cases of severe malnourishment.  But, it goes so much deeper than specific cases of hunger when one-half of all children in India have some form of micronutrient deficiency stemming not from diet choices made in the country, but instead from a lack of access to safe and nutritious food.  This lack of access to food is, according to General Comment 12 of the United Nations is a human rights violation.  If you want to learn more of hunger worldwide, visit IFPRI or Grain, both non-governmental organizations doing great work around the right to food and its complex politics.

Oh, the title of this blog post refers to the pretty famous Bruce Springsteen song of that name.  I’m pretty sure that Springsteen was not referring to global hunger in this song, but I’m sure that he’d be supportive of ending hunger.

Sri Lanka: Justice for the ACF 17

You may not have been aware of it, but this past Wednesday, Aug. 19, was the first World Humanitarian Day.  August 19 was designated by the U.N. General Assembly last December as a day each year to honor aid workers around the world, especially those who have given their lives in the line of duty.

The UN website about the World Humanitarian Day noted that in Sri Lanka, 17 staff of the French aid agency Action contre la Faim (ACF) (Action Against Hunger) were killed in August 2006.  While the Sri Lankan government has blamed the opposition Tamil Tigers for the killings, a recent report by the Sri Lankan human rights group, University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna), provides evidence pointing to the security forces as the killers.  And Amnesty International’s report, “Twenty Years of Make-Believe:  Sri Lanka’s Commissions of Inquiry, details serious deficiencies of subsequent government investigations into the massacre.

It’s been more than 3 years, and still the killers of the 17 ACF staff have not been brought to justice.  One more example of the continuing impunity enjoyed by the Sri Lankan security forces.  I hope that by next year’s World Humanitarian Day, I won’t be able to make the same statement.