Friday, June 10, 2011

Lecture: 'Career of Hunger - the role of Caste and Class in influencing Nutrition Policy, Policy makers and Science in India', 14th June Tuesday, 5 p.m.

Office of the Supreme Court appointed Adviser for Tamil Nadu to the Supreme Court commissioner on Food Security and Safe Food Campaign (SFA), Chennai

Invite you to a lecture by Dr. Veena Shatrugna, National Adviser on Nutrition to the Supreme Court Commissioner on Food Security on ' Career of Hunger - the role of Caste and Class in influencing Nutrition Policy, Policy makers and Science in India' 

at Sr. Helen Hall, Stella Maris College, Chennai on Tuesday 14th June, 2011 at 5.00 pm.
Lecture Abstract:
The nutritional status of the poor in India maybe described as alarming. Most of  the indicators of nutrition status such as adult weights, heights BMI, percentage of children who are severely malnourished, mean birth weighs, infant mortality rates, dietary intakes and unacknowledged starvation deaths confirm this fact.  Hunger is as widespread as it is invisible to the scientific eye.  The question that must be asked is how did India get into this trap of under nutrition with such serious consequences?

Chronic hunger as it exists in India can be largely traced to the rapid scientific advances in the area of food and nutrition analysis, and classification. In addition dietary requirements of populations from the 40s was laid out in terms of calories, with the assumption that foods which are culturally and regionally appropriate such as rice, eggs, milk, fowl, pulses, fish, greens, etc. would be consumed in quantities which would provide calories and all the other nutrients.  Nutrition research in the 50s and 60s though brilliantly innovative and deeply committed to the welfare of Indians, simplified the science of food further, with indices and correction factors, using  concepts like consumption units, biological value of proteins, RDA based on calories, calorie needs of workers, vegetable sources of proteins etc., which then became subjects for scientific research and fed into nutritional policy Over a short period these concepts were recast and deployed in administrative initiatives that, systematically transformed the diets of the poor in India to plain cereals as the major source,  or perhaps the only source of calories,  devoid of any other  nutrient. The consequences of this cereal overload, and nutritional depletion have been far reaching, and are responsible for a large measure of the profile of ill health, and the epidemic of chronic diseases in India.

This talk attempts to trace the steps in scientific and administrative thinking and policy that led to the nutritional and health impasse the people of this country are in.
Dr. Veena Shatrugna  is a medical doctor, has spent 34 years at the National Institute of Nutrition,  Hyderabad,  doing research  on the nutrition questions as they impact  women and children  in India. She has also worked in the area of women’s health,  and has authored  “Savaa laksha Sandhehalu”  a self help book for women in Telugu with a women’s collective called Stree Shakti Sangathana.

“Taking charge of our Bodies” is the English book with the same group of women. She is a member of Anveshi a Women’s studies organization based in Hyderabad.

No comments: