India asks: Should poor people have a right to food?

by Jim Yardley

Jogdiya, 2, lay with an intravenous drip in the Jhabua District Government Hospital as his father, Ratan Bhuria, looked after him and his 4-year-old sister. Bhuria’s children hover at the edge of starvation. His daughter, Nani, is 4 and weighs 20 pounds. His son, Jogdiya, is 2 and weighs only eight. Landless and illiterate, drowned by debt, Mr. Bhuria and his ailing children have staggered into the hospital ward after falling through India’s social safety net. They should receive subsidized government food and cooking fuel. They do not. The older children should be enrolled in school and receiving a free daily lunch. They are not. And they are hardly alone: India’s eight poorest states have more people in poverty — an estimated 421 million — than Africa’s 26 poorest nations. Photo: Lynsey Addario/ New York Times

JHABUA, India — Inside the drab district hospital, where dogs patter down the corridors, sniffing for food, Ratan Bhuria’s children are curled together in the malnutrition ward, hovering at the edge of starvation. His daughter, Nani, is 4 and weighs 20 pounds. His son, Jogdiya, is 2 and weighs only eight.