Tuesday, April 4, 2006 (Bangalore):People in rural Karnataka have combined the campaigns for the Right to Information and the Right to Food to fight hunger. Poor villagers have successfully participated in social audits and public hearings to demand that the rations due to them are allotted to them at the correct prices.
"They were not giving us our monthly rations. We complained, and the officials invited us for a meeting. Now we get rice at Rs 3 wheat at Rs 2 a kg," says Chandramma, a member of the self help group in the Chennagiri Village.
"There are nine programmes of food security, but people did not know about them. We staged street theatres and conducted public hearings to spread awareness," says K B Roopa Naik, Channagiri Taluka, Davangere.
Quality and quantity A positive fallout of the public hearing has been the marked improvement in the quality of foodgrains which is now being supplied in the villages.
"After a week of public hearing the people got ration cards and new ration shops were opened," says N M Muthappa, Right to Food Campaign, Karnataka. "For the first time women were confident enough to ask why they were not being given rice and wheat at the correct price. This movement must spread to every village and every taluka," says Seetamma, President of the self-help group in Davangere.
It’s a matter of national shame that lakhs of people go to bed hungry every night in the country. Karnataka has even had instances of the foodgrains meant for drought victims being stolen and exported to other countries.
However, it can now be hoped that the new tools of empowerment will enable the people to ask tough questions and demand answers as well as action.