Malnutrition and Destitution among Adivasis in Kerala
The continuing deaths of children in the Attappady Hills, Palakkad district in Kerala has shocked the conscience of the entire country. Sadly, since majority of these children either were stillborn, or died within days of being born, they have not even been given names by their family, and died unnamed. While this crisis unfolding in Attappady is receiving some attention from the State Government, it is necessary to understand that this is a manifestation of the rampant poverty and acute hunger among Adivasis in Kerala.
The Constitution of our country provides a special status and privileges to the Adivasi community. Further it mandates for the State to be protectionist of children. Added to this is the right to food that can be seen as an implication of the fundamental “right to life”, enshrined in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
Indeed, the Supreme Court has explicitly stated on multiple instances, that the right to life should be interpreted as a right to “live with human dignity”, which includes the right to food and other basic necessities. These constitutional guarantees and rights are the ones that stand violated with each child’s death or when a child is forced to survive under conditions of malnourishment and food/nutritional insecurity. It is in this context that this report is being brought out with the hope that it will spark a debate on malnutrition among the Adivasi, and also on other backward conditions in Kerala, since this situation is not limited to Attappady.