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Friday, 9 October 2015

Interfaith Discussion on 'Right to Food and Life'

WCC – Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance
NCCI - Commission on Justice, Peace and Creation & 
Christian Service Agency

INTERFAITH DISCUSSION ON
'Right to Food and Life'

16 October 2015, NCCI Campus, Nagpur



2015 is the International ‘Year of Soils’. October 16th is the International Food Day, October 15 is announced as the International Day for Rural Women and October 17th is the International Day for the eradication of Poverty.  Therefore, the World Council of Churches – Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance has initiated The Churches Week of Action on Food (CWAoF). CWAoF provides an opportunity for Churches all over the globe to act and speak together on food justice issues. It is a time to raise awareness about food production and distribution systems, examine our own food consumption, and call for policy changes that will ensure the right to food for everyone. Since NCCI – CJPC has been engaged in raising awareness among the Churches this year it is planning to work with faith communities in raising awareness on Right to Food and Life among the people.

All faiths call us to feed the hungry and care for Creation – this we can do as individuals, as Churches, Temples, Gurudwaras, Mosques and Pagodas and such worshiping places as members of faith communities.

Most of the States around the globe have come up with several policies to ensure ‘No Poverty’ through assuring livelihood securities / protections such as ‘food security’, ‘social protection’ and such policies.   In spite of all these, steady gains against hunger and poverty, today, we witness more than ten present of the population undernourished and go to bed hungry and a quarter is from India (The State of Food Insecurity in the World, 2015).  
Globally, millions more experience seasonal hunger and malnourishment. As also poor diets,  high in cheap processed foods are leading to a rise of non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, intestinal cancers, and type-2 diabetes. At the same time, between one-third and one-half of all food produced in the world for human consumption is wasted, due to lack of storage and distribution infrastructure as well as through wasteful retail and consumer practices.

India ranks 135th out of 187 countries in the 2014 UNDP Human Development Index and 55th out of 76 countries in the Global Hunger Index. While per capita income in India has more than tripled in the last two decades, the minimum dietary intake has been reduced during the same period. The bottom 10 percent of the population account for only 3.6 percent of the total consumption expenditure and the top 10 percent account for 31 percent.

The right to food is enshrined in the Constitution of India and provides one of the best examples in the world in terms of the justiciability of the right to food. The Constitution of India prohibits discrimination and recognizes all human rights. The right to life is recognized essentially a directly justiciable fundamental right (art. 21) while the right to food is defined as a directive principle of State policy (art. 47).  

The Government of India is implementing nationwide food-based social safety nets, namely the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), the Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS), which is targeting mothers and young children and the Mid-Day-Meal Scheme (MDM). The National Food Security Act (NFSA) entitles populations living below and just above the national poverty line to legally claim their right to highly subsidized staple foods. 

Though the primary responsibility for guaranteeing these entitlements rests with the state, faith communities and CSOs are called to fostering this process through grass roots level work.

The commitment to eradicating hunger and ensuring adequate nutrition goes beyond increasing food production. The world currently produces enough food to feed double the current population. It is critical to highlight the rights of the small food producers – the majority of them women – who represent ninety percent of all farms worldwide and who produce seventy percent of the world’s food on less than a quarter of the world’s farmland. Their access to resources the needs for their livelihood and of their community, including land, water and seeds, is essential.

 In addition, climate change is increasingly undermining food security. It is critical for Governments, the scientific community and civil society organizations to ensure that decisions taken within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to mitigate the impacts of climate change do not negatively impact global food security, the lives and livelihoods of smallholder food producers or increase competition for their lands.

 India is a microcosm of human history, with a great legacy of human endeavour, ingenuity and achievement; diversity, culture and wisdom. India through millennia has nurtured all the major faiths and philosophies of the world. We can collectively mobilize this rich experience and legacy to bring about a positive transformation of society.  Our faiths and our foundational values dictate that everyone has a fundamental right to be free from hunger and under-nutrition. Realizing this right requires not only equitable and sustainable food systems, but also entitlements relating to livelihood security such as the right to work, land reform and social security. 

At this juncture National Council of Churches in India – Commission on Justice, Peace and Creation is planning an Interfaith Roundtable on ‘Right to Food and Life’ in order  to observe the International Food Day on 16 Oct 2015 at the NCCI Campus, Civil Lines, Nagpur – 440001. The Round table starts at 4.30 p.m. with tea and ends by 6.30 p.m.

This consultation aims to facilitate all the faith Communities and CSOs with the following:

Inter-religious reflections on Right to Food and Life 
Introduction of  the ‘Interfaith -Week of Action on Food.
Lifting up the challenges, achievements and suggest the way forward.
Promoting networking and nurture collaboration for collective action.

The Commission appeals all the Constituent Members and Other Faith Communities to observe the World Food Day on the 16 Oct 2015 as on your convenient and possible way. The WCC EAA’s order of worship could be found on the following links:  www.oikoumene.org/en/what-we-do/eaa and www.nccindia.in 

Contact:
Rev. Fr. Aswin Fernandis,                                     Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar
Chairperson                                                           Executive Secretary                                                                                                   
Commission on Justice, Peace and Creation
National Council of Churches in India
ncci@nccindia.in | nccichristopher@gmail.com|www.nccindia.in (0)9422293599