Two well-known social workers, Pandit Sunderlal and Shri J. C. Kumarappa have released a 2,000-word report on scarcity conditions in Gorakhpur district in Uttar Pradesh.

The report mentions starvation deaths narrated to them “by relatives of the deceased in words and with feelings which left little room for distrust.”

The report draws the attention of the government to “a large number of cases in which there is a prima facie evidence of criminal tampering with public records.”

That food scarcity exists in India in different parts of the country is no secret.

That distribution is faulty in some places is also very well known. That thousands are not in a position to buy the necessities of life and are subisisting on such material as tapioca is an acknowledged fact.  Whether people die of diseases as a result of malnutrition or directly of starvation, the result is the same.

There is a tendency in ruling circles to circumvent facts and ascribe other causes to obvious cases of starvation deaths.

Shri Kumarappa reports that in many villages he toured, he discovered instances of tampering with public records. Official reticence is understandable, but deliberate tampering with facts is a crime that must be investigated, and if proved, punished. Starvation deaths have also been reported from parts of Bombay State.

Shri Nijalingappa, President of the Karnatak Pradesh Congress Committee has drawn attention to the failure of crops in Bijapur district. Government must be aware of the fact, as also of the unhappy conditions prevailing in Surat. The Government’s Press Note denying starvation deaths has been disputed.

But what is relevant is not the manner of dying, or the number of deaths, disconcerting though they are, but what is being done to remedy matters. Familiarity with poverty has made people as well as government indifferent to the sanctity of life and callous to most elementary rights. Such relief as is being given is by nature temporary and touches the fringes of the problem. An entirely new approach to it is necessary; quibbling with words does not feed empty stomachs.

(EDIT, September 10, 1952.)

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