Can you imagine a country where 3,000 children die from hunger every day?

Despite dire headlines warning of the increased ‘heat or eat’ dilemma here in the UK our perception of ‘poverty’ is often relative. We think in terms of white sliced bread versus artisan sour dough. But in a grain exporting country such as India how does it reach the stage of no butter for the bread for a third of the population?

In 2012 India’s Planning Commission described the situation by stating “if it is not in a state of famine it is quite clearly in a state of chronic hunger.” The country comes second to last in the Global Hunger Index with a staggering 43.5% of children under 5 undernourished.

India starving kid

It is common for people in rural India to eat just one meal a day – a large serving of rice with a watery gravy. This lacks vital nutrition and starvation deaths are a hollow counterpart to 8% economic growth per annum. The Food Security Bill 2013 subsidises wheat and rice for two thirds of the population, keeping people fuelled with carbohydrates but not essential protein.

Can you imagine living where 3,000 children die every day from hunger? The Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has labelled it a national shame.

Food prices are prone to wild fluctuation, and distribution to the needy suffers from corruption and inefficiencies. In 2011 I worked in an orphanage in Tamil Nadu where the local official demanded a bribe worth more than the rice the children were entitled to in order to stamp the ration book.

Here at Jeevika Trust we work through our Indian NGO partners to build village livelihoods. We focus on nutrition & health for the most marginalised. We also secure equally vital water & sanitation. We enable women to work in Self Help Groups to gain family income, to set up kitchen gardens, to cultivate honey for sale and for their families.

India free lunch

Our reach maybe modest but it is effective. Reputable NGOs do what the government still can’t do. Every little helps.

And with YOUR help we can say NO to starvation and make more people self-sufficient.

just giving donate button

 

Tarka and friends ‘Life’ – an album for India

They seem two worlds apart – the highly visible world of rock’n’roll, popstars and fashion in California, New York and London, and the vast unseen world of India’s 600,000 villages where one in eight of the planet’s population still live in extreme deprivation. Yet the unnecessary and much grieved death in 2008 of a young 42-year old highlighted a slender thread between the two.

It’s that thread which led record producer Barney Cordell, when planning an album in tribute to his younger brother Tarka, to single out Jeevika Trust. As a small charity working through its grassroots NGO partners in India we can effectively dedicate the royalties the artists have generously waived to a memorial project for Tarka in village India.

This month the album itself has finally been born with a fanfare of publicity. So we owe Barney a huge thank you, and wish this creative act all possible success.

Tarka and Friends: Life  is the title, produced under Barney’s label Room 609.  Please, please buy it now!

tarkaIt’s a haunting collection of tracks by Lily Allen (Shelter Me), Tarka’s mentor Evan Dando (Lovely New York) and other artists with close links to Tarka. The album echoes a collection of his own songs which Tarka would soon, but for his death, have released under the title Wide Awake in a Dream -  which Tarka himself described as ‘a compelling story of (his) heady days in New York City’.

tarka

That slender thread between the two worlds was Tarka’s own life. His legendary producer father Denny’s sudden death of cancer in 1995, and failure of his own musical career to take off, seem to have impacted Tarka deeply and he took a year out in India where he later admitted he ‘rode a motor-bike and took loads of drugs’. We don’t know how else he spent that time, but it seems to have made a deep impression on him and drawn him back: only days before his suicide he had just returned from another stint in rural India, and it is this link to India which Barney has wanted to celebrate with Jeevika’s help.

Jeevika has been focused, since our foundation in 1970 on the endemic poverty of life in village India. The Indian government has always prioritised industrial and urban development: it annually watches millions of rural people drifting into city slums, and is neither systematically investing in infrastructure to accommodate them, nor facilitating systematic growth of village livelihoods.

Jeevika’s projects for water & sanitation, health & nutrition and women’s income generation have been addressing this vacuum over the past 10 years.

Bee keeper

A new model for village livelihood is needed: neither government nor the business sector is taking the necessary initiatives, and  it is left to NGOs to move things forward. Jeevika is launching this year a ‘tri-sector’ model in which the roles of the state, private and voluntary sectors – are redefined.

So once again, we hope you’ll respond to this blog by ordering your copy of the new album on line at www.tarkamusic.com and recommending it to your friends.

Thank you.

Is Tesco the Answer for India’s Hungry Villagers?

All opinions expressed in this blog are those of the individual and not the official standpoint of Jeevika Trust.

The Indian government believe the solution to its starving millions lies in increased production and direct foreign investment.  This is supposed to cause a trickle down effect as the economy grows and one tactic has been the opening of the markets to multi-national companies.  As our blog has previously documented, the British government agree and have timetabled an end to British aid in 2014 with a renewed focus on a trade relationship.

At Jeevika Trust we have more of a grassroots approach, working with local NGO partners to support the most disadvantaged female entrepreneurs in livelihood development that harmonises with the environment and the individual.

starving india

Perhaps you heard in December about Tesco partnering Tata India and investing £68 million in expanding supermarkets.  This first significant move into the previously closely guarded retail market has been met with a wave of protest.  The convenor of the Confederation of All-India Traders has warned that like The East India Company historically they will come for business and end up controlling the country.  Shop keepers argue it will put many small and middle traders out of business.

India protest

The Indian government estimate 40% of food rots before it gets to market, due to poor transportation and middle men traders.  The disastrous impact of this was felt in 2013 when the price of onions, almost as much of a staple as rice, saw a 280% increase.

Some of the Dalits (traditionally the poorest in society) believe Tesco will help them out of poverty.  “At the moment the middlemen who control everything are high castes but there will be no role for middlemen and our firms will benefit. India’s new shopping malls have created the maximum employment opportunities for scheduled caste and scheduled tribe – the Dalits. But the government has promised that the supermarkets will procure from small and medium enterprises and 20 per cent of them will be Dalit enterprises,” said Milind Kamble, chairman of the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce (DICC).

If trade is sincerely the intention of both governments then it should be trade in both directions and I look forward to seeing Biotique on our high streets.

It’s worth remembering that in the UK we have had violent protests against Tesco for the same worrying reasons as the Indian shop keepers protests.  I believe that unless the introduction of Foreign Direct Investment is carefully managed, with advice being sought from local NGOs (as suggested in our tri-sector model for development) there is a very real risk of increased unemployment and poverty.

 

To support Jeevika Trust in developing the tri-sector model and opening fair options up for the people of India’s villages please donate here now

just giving donate button

How WALKING can help!

Remember Cyclone Phailin?  How it caused devastation last October in the State of Orissa?  Of particular concern to Jeevika and its partner, Jeevan Rekha Parishad (JRP), was the damage and devastation it created on the Island of Berhampur.  Situated in the Chilika Lagoon and bordered by the Bay of Bengal, it is here that JRP works with the 2,800 island villagers to generate income through the cultivation of crabs and prawns, bananas, peanuts, coconuts and vegetables.  The impact of Cyclone Phailin left many of these activities needing to start again.  The project’s funder – www.innocentfoundation.org – generously donated more funds to restore the project.

When JRP staff – together with Jeevika’s India Coordinator and Programme Officer -visited the island to review the project and the cyclone’s damage, we discovered that many houses had lost their thatched roofs and families were without resources to replace them.  The government provided bags of rice, but not roofs.

cyclone phailin

As we walked past paddy fields and large crab ponds – both heavily flooded – we came upon Mr Rankanidhi Bhoi sitting outside his home, crying.  75 years old, his limbs paralysed for the last five years, he said: ‘My Heaven has lost my home.  How will my family survive?’