In a recent article "The Distant Thunder of an Unexploded Bomb" discussing the failed terror attack in Times Square and its consequences in faraway places, author Ras Siddiqui invokes the memory of "a horrible famine in British India around the time of World War II" portrayed in a film “Distant Thunder” by celebrated Indian director Satyajit Ray.
Ray's film focuses on the famine in India during the British Raj when the colonial rulers diverted food from Bengali civilians to the British forces fighting the Japanese in Asia. Unfortunately, there is no thunder, distant or otherwise, today when it comes to hunger in India. Most hunger deaths occur in silence, without making any headlines in the Indian and Western media. There is often denial of this unfolding tragedy that claims thousands of innocent, often young, lives every day in India and other parts of the world in Asia and Africa....many times more than the tragic deaths from terrorism in the entire world.
About 3000 Pakistanis died tragically in terrorist attacks last year in various parts of the country, according to government data. Putting it in perspective, however, hunger in India has proved far more deadly than terror in Pakistan. It claims as many Indian children's lives every day as all of the terror related deaths in Pakistan in a year, according World Bank HNP data.
Both tragedies are essentially man-made and preventable, and both need to be condemned and stopped by decisive action by all concerned.
Indian Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen who saw the Bengal famine in his childhood says as follows:
"When India achieved independence, more than 50 years ago, the people of India were much afflicted by endemic hunger. They still are."
As if to reinforce it, the BBC has a story today about little children in India eating mud to fight hunger.
"In Ganne, just off the main road about an hour south of the city of Allahabad, this is a simple fact of life.
It is home to members of a poor tribal community, who live in small huts clustered around a series of shallow quarries.
Inside one of the huts sits a little girl called Poonam. She is three years old, and in the early stages of kidney failure.
Like many children in Ganne she has become used to eating bits of dried mud and silica, which she finds in the quarry. Tiny children chew on the mud simply because they are hungry - but it is making them ill.
When reports first emerged of children eating mud here local officials delivered more food and warned the villagers not to speak to outsiders. But Poonam's father, Bhulli, is close to despair."
The only other country where I know children regularly eat "dirt cookies" is Haiti.
Haq's Musings: India's Hunger Far More Deadly Than Global Terror