Uttar Pradesh is not Somalia – or is it?

Two year old Sahabuddin

Two-year-old Sahabuddin died of starvation on May 31, 2008, in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The state is India’s second most backward, with corruption undermining its pledge to eradicate poverty and provide healthcare for its people. (Photo/PVCHR-India)

The government of Uttar Pradesh in India has a clear mandate and vision to protect its children. With more than 100 projects commissioned by the State’s child development agency and a few million dollars spent each year, one would expect the State’s children do be as healthy as well cared-for children elsewhere in the world. At least they must not die from acute malnutrition.

Yet, in reality, children do die from malnutrition in Uttar Pradesh. The latest was two-year-old Sahabuddin, who died May 31, 2008. He lived with his parents in Dhannipur village in Varanasi district of Uttar Pradesh. His parents were too poor to feed Sahabuddin – he weighed only six kilograms when he died. This is Grade III malnutrition, a condition that the world hears of in places like Somalia.

In the Somali Democratic Republic, however, there is no functioning government, there is a high rate of inflation and the country has faced a series of civil wars followed by a war with neighboring Ethiopia that has destroyed whatever little infrastructure that country had. In these conditions – coupled with the harsh African weather that bakes the land as strong as concrete making it unfit for cultivation – starvation, malnutrition and death from starvation are inevitable.

The state of Uttar Pradesh is not so. It has a democratically elected government. It has ministers and secretaries who travel around the state in the name of governance in expensive air-conditioned vehicles. The state government has a woman chief minister at its helm, who has vowed to eradicate discrimination and poverty in the state.

UPI AsiaOnline | Bijo Francis | Link

Comments are closed.