A Problem of Extremes

A report (published by the Lancet) in the The Times of India today reveals that India ranks No1 in the world for having the most underweight people. Surprisingly it also ranks No5 in the world for obesity.

This is a country of extremes. There are some extremely rich people and there are much more desperately poor people. I have written in a previous blog about the absolute poverty here and that 7,000 people a day die of starvation. 

Underweight people

There are 102 million men and 101 million women underweight in the world. India is home to over 40% of them. That’s 41,200,000 people. All underweight. It’s a national disgrace but is there an outrage about it? Are there calls for something to be done about it? Not a peep. Not an outrage. Not a call for something to be done. It is merely reported in the newspaper. I get the impression (rightly or wrongly) that at worst there is a real reluctance or at best indifference to helping those poorer or weaker. It appears that survival of the fittest reigns and it’s incomprehensible to me. 

Obesity on the rise

However India has also seen a surge in obesity having 9.8 million obese men and 20 million obese women. I can fully understand that as sugar is put in everything here and it’s difficult to find anything without added sugar. Bread tastes like cake due to the added sugar; fresh juices are non existent and ‘made from concentrate’ juices without added sugar are as rare as hen’s teeth. It’s ridiculous. Here is a country in desperate need of a very high added sugar tax to wean the nation off added sugar in everything. 

Bribery and Corruption 

There are some very rich people in India who could make a real difference to a lot of lives. An effective taxation system would help – as would the eradication of bribery and corruption. However that day is a long way off as people accept that it is the way things are done here. For example, it is exam period here in India at the moment. School clerks charge an additional ‘fee’ for hall passes so students (who have fully paid their school fees) can sit exams. Parents pay it to avoid ruining their child’s future. Instead they should record and report it so that other parents don’t pay the same ‘fee’ and the corruption doesn’t carry on. It will carry on unless if it goes unchecked and unreported. It’s a disgrace.

Change is needed

As Mahatma Gandhi once said, you must “be the change you wish to see in the world”. Never a truer word spoken about his own country. 


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