The Right to Food Campaign has called a dharna at Delhi's Jantar Mantar on December 13, 2012. The objectives of the three-day protest, which will conclude on December 15, 2012 are to visiblise hunger and demand the right to food.
Kavita Srivastava, national convenor, steering committee said on behalf of the Right to Food Campaign, “Nearly four years have passed since the UPA government promised to put an end to hunger and food insecurity.”
“Nothing has happened, except for the tabling of a useless National Food Security Bill in Parliament. The Bill is languishing in a standing committee, which has hardly called groups working on this issue,” she said.
Srivastava added, “Of late the government has even stopped talking about it. Meanwhile hunger and malnutrition are on the increase, food prices keep going up and large sections of people continue being evicted from their land, water, forests and other natural resources, losing their livelihoods and becoming more food insecure.”
“The dharna will bring together people who are victims of this indifference and continue to be exposed to food insecurity,” she stated.
The day will be devoted to visiblising hunger, highlighting the hardships of poor households excluded from the public distribution system (PDS) and the opposition to cash transfers. It will bring forward people suffering from hunger and those who do not have ration cards, despite being food insecure, and highlight their hardships.
People from places where cash transfers have been implemented, such as Kotkasim (Rajasthan), Delhi, Mysore (Karnataka) and Haryana, will also come to talk about their experiences with cash transfers.
On this day, issues of aam mahila and children's right to food would be looked into. Women's issues such as undernutrition, heightened food insecurity during pregnancy and lactation, need for maternal entitlements of sufficient amounts and lack of adequate support for child care.
The greater disadvantages of single women and their need for assistance in the form of pensions, etc. will also be talked about. Other issues, including violation of minimum wages, lack of adequate livelihood opportunities, the dismal functioning of NREGA, neglect of agriculture and hardships of the homeless and migrant workers will also be discussed.
The day's second theme will address issues such as alarmingly high levels of undernutrition among children, demand for universalisation with quality of mid-day meals and integrated child development service scheme, the need for support for breast-feeding and creches and the additional vulnerabilities of children with disabilities, out of school children, children of migrant workers, etc.
On the third and final day, the demand for a comprehensive National Food Security Bill will be put forth.
The gross inadequacy of the latest proposals of the Bill in ensuring good nutrition for all. The demand for a Bill, which inter alia universalises the PDS, provides oil and pulses apart from foodgrains, provides adequate amounts of maternity entitlements and pensions for the elderly, people with disabilities, single women, provides greater entitlements for realising children's right to food, has community kitchens providing afforable but nutritious meals and has a strong grievance redressal mechanism.
A community kitchen will function on all the three days which will prepare cheap but nutritious meals - the type of food a comprehensive National Food Security Act should enable people to eat every day. Cultural events will include songs and plays. There will also be a discussion on the Campaign’s next national convention, which is scheduled for early next year in Delhi.