Category Archives: Health and nutrition

“Tribal children have higher levels of undernutrition compared to children of socially economically advanced sections.” – Programme report on Tribal nutrition: “UNICEF’s efforts to support the tribal population, especially children who suffer from malnourishment”

“The tribal food basket has always been ­diverse and nutritious, including maize, minor millets like kodo and kutki, oil seeds like ramtila, along with fruits, leaves, ­rhizomes, mushrooms, meat and fish […] We have pushed them out of their complementary relationship with ecology, way of life and time-tested nutrition.” – Nutrition expert Bal quoted in “Rage Of A Silent, Invisible Killer Called Malnutrition – Why Shining India Is In Grip Of An Epic Calamity” (Outlook Magazine, 14 August 2019)

“The National Curriculum Framework recommends that children should examine local issues of livelihood, production, health and environment first and then link it to history, geography, science and environmental studies.” – Sujit Sinha, who teaches the master’s in education course at Azim Premji University (Bengaluru), quoted by Natasha Badhwar in “The school on the hill” (Livemint, 7 November 2015)

“[N]utritional deficiency is the root cause of most ailments in the tribal population consisting of Korku, Gond and Gawali tribes. [Therefore Bhartiya Kushta Nivarak Sangh] has been educating tribals about the nutritional needs and the kind of food items that will fulfill this from locally available materials.” – Jayant Kothe (chief coordinator of an NGO working in 80 villages) quoted in “NGO works to spread awareness about nutrition” (Times of India, Nagpur, 26 January 2011)

“Dams, irrigation and factory farms are linked to 25% of infectious diseases in humans. Travel, transport and food supply chains have erased borders and distances. Climate change has contributed to the spread of pathogens. […] To prevent future outbreaks, we must become much more deliberate about protecting our natural environment.” – Inger Andersen (Under-secretary general and executive director of the UN Environment Programme) quoted in “Coronavirus: Fear over rise in animal-to-human diseases” (BBC News, 6 July 2020)

“Adivasi communities traditionally depended on the forest for all their nutritional needs. They subsisted mainly on fruits, vegetables, tubers, fish, small game as well as the occasional crop they grew, predominantly coarse grains. However, as time passed and the nature of, as well as their access to, forests changed, their diet started becoming deficient. Certain tribes, such as Paniyas, forced into bonded labour saw a paradigm shift in their dietary practices due to their dependence on their exploiters for their sustenance needs. This deficiency started manifesting in the form of rampant malnutrition, among adults and children alike, underweight babies as well as high maternal mortality. Another consequence was increased susceptibility to Tuberculosis among the Adivasis.” – Blog post “Gardening their way to Good Health” by ACCORD – Action for Community Organisation, Rehabilitation and Development

“India’s worrying ranking in the Global Hunger Index: 101 out 116 (and behind Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan).” – Nissim Mannathukkaren (Dalhousie University) in “How Hindu Nationalism Enables India’s Slide Into Inequality” (The Wire, 28 December 2021)

“Health spending by the Indian government as percentage of GDP has long been one of the lowest for any major country, and the public health system is chronically dismal.” – Pranab Bardhan in “The two largest democracies in the world are the sickest now” (, 24 August 2020)

“It was assumed that tribal people have same health problems, similar needs and hence the uniform national pattern of rural health care would be applicable to them as well, albeit with some alteration in population: provider ratio. The different terrain and environment in which they live, different social systems, different culture and hence different health care needs were not addressed. Not surprisingly health and healthcare in tribal areas remained unsolved problems.” – Preface by Abhay Bang (Chairman, Expert Committee on Tribal health) in “Tribal Health in India: Bridging the Gap and a Roadmap for the Future” (Report of the Expert Committee on Tribal Health, undated)

“In Port Blair itself, some years ago, the son of Jirake, the king of the Great Andamanese, had been found begging. [T]he state and its tribal department had allowed the worst of our society – paan, tobacco, liquor and now, COVID-19 – to reach these endangered communities. Newer threats, like a transhipment port at Great Nicobar, emerged.” – M. Rajshekhar in “Remembering Samir Acharya, Who Fought to Preserve the Cultures of Andaman and Nicobar” (The Wire, 18 October 2020)

“[T]he terrible neglect in public delivery of healthcare must not be allowed to continue.” – Brochure for the report titled “Living World of the Adivasis of West Bengal: An Ethnographic Exploration”, issued on the occasion of the Kolkata International Book Fair 2020

“India’s healthcare spending, including both private and public, has been around 3.6% of GDP for the past six years [with] fewer than 10 doctors per 10,000 people, and in some states the figure is less than five.” – Vikas Pandey in “Coronavirus: How India descended into Covid-19 chaos” (BBC News. 5 May 2021)

“The per capita consumption of alcohol for India is 4 litres […] Alcohol related diseases are growing leading to high occupancy of hospital beds in hospitals.” – Human Development Report 2005 Kerala, Government of Kerala (2006), pp. 57-61

“[W]e don’t die like we used to before” and “we are not afraid like we used to be before.” – Dr Shylaja Devi quoting members of Gudalur’s Adivasi communities on the biggest difference Ashwini has made to their lives in “The wealth of wellness” (Tata Trusts, 3 June 2012)

“Who, if anyone, is excluded—or adversely included—from equitable access to public goods […] resulting in intense dispossession, sexual and economic exploitation, alarming health and nutrition declines as well as precarious survival. […] The picture that emerges from the report is in many ways grim and troubling.” – “The India Exclusion Report 2015: A comprehensive, annually updated analysis on the exclusion of disadvantaged groups in India” (First Edition, New Delhi 2016,, supported by UNICEF, UNFPA and UN Women)

“Many people – though not all – have been able to secure freedom from torture, unjustified imprisonment, summary execution, enforced disappearance, persecution and unjust discrimination, as well as fair access to education, economic opportunities, and adequate resources and health-care.” – Introduction to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (United Nations),

“Despite South Asia’s promising social inclusion processes, staggering social and health inequalities leave indigenous populations largely excluded. Marginalization in the South Asian polity, unequal power relations, and poor policy responses deter Adivasi populations’ rights and opportunities for health gains and dignity. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is likely to result in a disproportionate share of infections and deaths among the Adivasis, given poor social conditions and exclusions.” – Chundankuzhiyil Ulahannan Thresia, Prashanth Nuggehalli Srinivas, Katia Sarla Mohindra, Chettiparambil Kumaran Jagadeesan in “The Health of Indigenous Populations in South Asia: A Critical Review in a Critical Time” (free access in SAGE Journals, August 2020)

“The nation’s ‘primary conservers’ – often tribal farmers – are now seen as ‘guardians of biological diversity’ and therefore entitled to protection under the law known as Biodiversity Act.” – Video message by scientist M.S. Swaminathan whose research foundation (MSSRF) was founded with proceeds from the First World Food Prize (1987) and remains committed to the livelihoods of rural communities.

“The eco fragile region calls for a more sustainable path. Unfortunately, most of the large dams don’t have disaster management plans in place. According to the Central Water Commission, there are 5,334 large dams in India besides 411 under construction. A report of the Auditor General in 2017 found that only 349 of these dams had disaster management plans in place. Indeed a matter of grave concern!” – Charanjit Ahuja in “Was the Uttarakhand tragedy waiting to happen?” (Tehelka, 15 February 2021)

“And when all of a sudden all these non-urban communities couldn’t feed themselves, how would that create a crisis? It’s a crucial part of the puzzle to make sure that those community remain as sustainable as they can and continue feeding themselves.” – Rick Knecht (University of Aberdeen) in “Green Thinking: Climate Justice” (BBC Radio 3 Arts & Ideas, 10 November 2021)

“Farmers on the Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border have been sending organic produce to Bengaluru even during the lockdown [2020].” – Ashish Kothari, Kalpavriksh (Pune-based NGO)

“A quick survey of edible plant foods in some villages in Bastar yielded a list of more than 300 species. However, those that were regularly eaten were far fewer, many species having slipped out of traditional diets as ‘there was not enough time””. – Madhu Ramnath in “Within the world of food collection” (, Contested Cultures, February 2018)

“In addition to rice, North East India is also home to the cultivated species of bananas known by their genus name, Musa.” – Dhrijyoti Kalita reviewing Prehistory and Archaeology of Northeast India by Manjil Hazarika (, 3 March 2019)

“Adivasis are extremely knowledgeable about the tubers, berries, leafy greens and mushrooms which they collect. […] They would also fish and hunt small animals for food throughout the year. Most homes would have some meat drying above the cooking fires for a rainy day.” – Mari Marcel Thekaekara quoted by Priti David in “In the Nilgiris, an inheritance of malnutrition” (People’s Archive of Rural India, 1 May 2020)

“The adivasis pity the Dilliwallahs. They find us under-nourished, anorexic and weak. They think it is an urban disease to believe that money can buy everything. They also pity us for being addicted to our computers and mobile phones.” – Nandan Saxena (co-director of National Award-winning documentary “I Cannot Give You My Forest”) quoted by S. Ravi (The Hindu, April 24, 2015)

“Traditional farming systems in India have received a major boost at a time when Indian agriculture is struggling to come to terms with modern technologies. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has accorded the status of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS) to the traditional agricultural system being practiced in Koraput region of Odisha.” – Jyotika Sood in “UN heritage status for Odisha’s Koraput farming system” (Down To Earth, 4 January 2012)–35627

“As more people migrate to cities and towns in search of better employment and education opportunities, one tends to take up food habits that are convenient and less time-consuming. […] Sadly, this is the story of most villages in India that have bid adieu to not just its people but its age-old regional cuisines that were high on nutritional values too.” – S. Lekshmi Priya on a campaign by two women – illustrator Tanya Kotnala and nutritionist Tanya Singh – to revive the local art and culture of Uttarakhand in “With Art and Science, Two Women Are Reviving Uttarakhand’s Nutritional Delicacies” (7 September 2017)

“If Gandhi inspired and led a political revolution, [Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay] inspired and led a cultural revolution. [She] insisted on the importance of handicrafts as a traditional means of livelihood.” – Feminist writer Gloria Steinem reviewing “A Passionate Life: Writings by and on Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay” by Ellen Carol Dubois and Vinay Lal (Openmagazine, 7 April 2017)

Sharing valuable rice varieties with farmers: Biodiversity for the sake of “vital nutrients and the ability to withstand flood, drought, salinity or pest infestations” – Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha Maharashtra & West Bengal

IN BRIEF India originally possessed some 110,000 landraces of rice with diverse and valuable properties. These include enrichment in vital nutrients and the ability to withstand flood, drought, salinity or pest infestations. The Green Revolution covered fields with a few … Continue reading

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Audio | The Muskoka Summit on the Environment – Canada

Restoring our relationship with nature from lake beds to treetops Indigenous peoples have all around the world have principles and values that we can learn from, that will help us to understand what our responsibility is here. (9:33) What’s emerging … Continue reading

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Audio | Learning about ethnobotany for the sake of food security: Indigenous Food Labs across the United States and beyond

Indigenous foods matter, and maybe now more than ever, said award-winning chef Sean Sherman, the Oglala Lakota founder of The Sioux Chef. “It’s a necessity for our future to create access and knowledge and skills around Indigenous foods,” explained Sherman. … Continue reading

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eBook | Solutions that preserve the diversity of cultures and ecosystems: “The only two factors that ensure life on the planet”

About the Author […] Dr. Rÿser has contributed to policies and laws affecting American Indians and indigenous peoples internationally, contributing for more than 25 years to the development of the UN declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the UN … Continue reading

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“The problem is access and availability of nutritious food”: World Food Day (6 October) – United Nations

Although we have made progress towards building a better world, too many people have been left behind. People who are unable to benefit from human development, innovation or economic growth. In fact, millions of people around the world cannot afford … Continue reading

Posted in Adverse inclusion, Economy and development, Globalization, Health and nutrition, Modernity, Organizations, Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Rural poverty, Tips | Comments Off on “The problem is access and availability of nutritious food”: World Food Day (6 October) – United Nations