Even when godowns are full, people are starving to death, says Dr Binayak Sen.   | Photo Credit: K.K. Najeeb

Human rights violations are rampant in the country, says the social activist

Social activist Binayak Sen has said that the common man in the country has been sandwiched between State-sponsored violence and genocide by starvation.

Speaking to The Hindu here on Tuesday, he said a large section of society is suffering from chronic hunger and severe malnutrition.

Citing a study by Prof. Utsa Patnaik of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Dr. Sen said there has been a sharp decline in consumption of grains over a period of 10 years.

“The body mass index (BMI) of 32-35 per cent of people in the county is below 18.5, showing a chronic hunger situation,” he said.

According to the World Health Organization, a BMI of less than 18.5 indicates malnutrition.

“This is when we have taken random samples. The rate may be much higher if the study is conducted on cluster-basis,” he said.

Another study by Rajib Dasgupta of the Centre of Social Medicine, JNU, shows there is a five-fold increase in tuberculosis infection in the country in the last 10 year. Low BMI due to hunger and malnutrition is rampant among people infected by TB.

If consumption of protein in the U.S. is 108 gm a day it is 70 gm in developing countries. But the protein consumption in India is 55 gm, he said.

Highly carbohydrate-based diet has pushed a majority of the population into chronic metabolic syndrome, he said.

Citing the culpability of the State in largescale hunger, he said the common man has no access to common resources pool.

“The National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau has been closed down. Even when our godowns are full, people are starving to death,” he said.

Dr. Sen pointed out that human rights violations were rampant in the country.

Even after years of protest, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act is still entrenched in many parts of the country.

Though the Supreme Court declared as illegal the Salwa Judum deployment of tribal youth as special police officers (SPO) in the fight against Maoist insurgency in Chhattisgarh, the government absorbed many of the SPOs into the police force, he added.