Corona virus is moving in the air and people are broken on the ground. The virus sweeps across countries, indistinguishably sickens and kills poor, rich, businessmen and politicians. The exertions made by media to spread awareness about this pandemic can’t be unrequited and their apparent concern to humanity is praiseworthy. However the solicitude seems too overstated and the much inflated concern by media to address this issue is increasingly becoming more dubious in the general population. While we are constantly, hour after hour, reminded about the deaths caused by Corona Virus, we are equivalently kept ignorant about the people who die of hunger every minute. Surprisingly, very few of us know about the hunger statistics and the people who have died of hunger related diseases till June in the year 2020. Let’s ask ourselves genuinely, how many times in a year do we hear about hunger deaths? There are Millions who die of hunger every month and seldom there is any news channel that mentions the deaths or sufferings arising out of the food scarcity. You never heard a politician or an elite person dying of hunger and perhaps this is the biggest reason why this issue is often being overlooked. The deprivation of people of their legal right i.e. Right to food, is the worst catastrophe humanity should be ashamed of. But now, it is the democratic nature of Corona Virus that the whole atmosphere is filled with anxiety and fear. Corona Virus has disestablished all those segregations and social binaries that are surrounding as worst enemies on this earth. Interestingly, since Corona Virus, all poor and prosperous people “are all on the same boat” and nothing stops it from reaching to the corridors of politics, contracting political leaders and forcing them to quarantine. Much pity, all humans are equal now and are desperately dependent on physicians, hospitals or medicines. So far, at the time of writing this article, more than 5.4Lakh people have died of Corona Virus worldwide which is so unfortunate but this number when compared to hunger deaths in the year 2020 is a very little count. According to the UN report of July 2019, an estimated 820 Million people in the world are hungry. Approximately 9 Million people are dying every year of hunger and around 3 Million of them are children below the age of five. The world counts, a website counting hunger deaths at each passing second, says that in every 10seconds, one child dies of hunger. The UN sustainable growth goal of achieving zero hunger by 2030 is turning into a fairy tale because of the growing meager nutrition and starvation in the world. Even though the hunger rate declined rapidly in the previous two decades from 1990 to 2015, again an increase was seen from last 5 years. In 1990, the number of people affected by hunger was 1011 million and in 2015 the score had declined to 784 million. Again in 2018, the score hit back at 822 million and is increasing speedily after each year. According to the same website, one out of 9 people in the world go hungry to bed every night.
The concern among the influential leaders to cope with the Corona Virus is appraisable but their indifference to address the more deadly pandemic, hunger, is more shocking. The need of the hour is act on the commitments we made previously and strive to acquire zero hunger by earliest possible time.
As of now, the total number of deaths by hunger in the year 2020 is approximately 40lakh. However African countries have the highest hunger development index (HDI) and the attainment of zero hunger indexes is fading away at each passing year. But there are countries, as Robert Black, Professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School said, like India and Nigeria, who possess enough resources to feed its people. Unfortunately these countries, that are not the poorest, fail to do any better. Even more appalling fact is that there are 2 billion people around the world who do not get proper nutrients and adequate food. It has been calculated that an average rickshaw puller in India needs 2000-3000 calories per day and more overwhelming, they consume only 1000 or less calories per day. It is difficult to imagine that a human being dies of hunger and hunger related diseases in every ten seconds though the world possesses enough food to provide every human being 3000 calories per day. Still there are no considerations, no disorders, no speculations and nobody wants to know, why? Until the time you finish reading this article, which may be around 4-5 minutes, 24-30 people will be dead of hunger and most of them would be children below the age of 5 years. It is notoriously difficult to get the exact figure of dying people because the numbers are very large and it is equally difficult to get the data from those areas which are inaccessible. Conclusively, the reduction in hunger deaths does not have any priority before the world leadership and the negligence is increasingly driving the poor countries towards acute hunger. The concern among the influential leaders to cope with the Corona Virus is appraisable but their indifference to address the more deadly pandemic, hunger, is more shocking. The need of the hour is act on the commitments we made previously and strive to acquire zero hunger by earliest possible time.
(The author is a Research Scholar at the Dept of English, Aligarh Muslim University Aligarh. Views are his own) Ishfaqdass27@gmail.com