Monday, October 08, 2007

Another More Recent Cause of Maluntrition




In the nothern Bengal Region of India, tea farm workers and their families were left stranded when the proprietors of the tea farms suddenly abandoned the farms when the market price of tea fell. The tea farm workers who lived on the estate had no other means for survival except to sell the unrefined leaves that remained when the proprietors left.

Persons who could leave found jobs nearby, offten obtaining little pay. Those who could not simply had to edure the new economic conditions. Persons who continued to sell tea tree leaves obtained much lower wages than before. Those new wages were and still are unabale to help these persons maintain an adequate standard of living.

This standard of living in northern Bengal is now so deplorable that persons cannot afford food, one of the few basic neccesties. With widespread hunger and malnutrition comes vulnerablitly to opportunist diseases such as anemia and tuberclorosis. Deficiencies of certain essential vitmains and minerals, and the resulting deficiency diseases are common. Because of this, people in the community have become ill. Although there is desire to work, persons are now physically unable.

Government aid which is allocated to help is insufficient and it is not being allocated by currupt local officials who instead keep these vital resources for personal use. Hence the deplorable physical condition of the people does not seem to be coming to an end.


Why is it that tea frmers who once participated in a whorthwhile source of income for their families and for their region are now unable to maintain an adequate standard of living? Why were the proprietors able to leave so freely? Why did the workers not have a representativie group to look out for their intrests?


The tea farmers were labourers who probably did not have the skills or the means to do other jobs. This would cause them to remain in a job that supported them financially but was otherwise lacking, where there may have been poor employee treatment.

Article 23 Part 1 of the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights states that, "Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of emplyment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment." It was unfair for the proprietors to leave the estate without forewarning emplyees.

The situation of the tea farmers is primarily economic, but it does consider basic rights since the persons are unable to obtain nutritious food for themselves. The widespread malnutirition is now affecting the physical well being of persons and further limiting their earning potential. Hence, a cycle is created where persons are unable to work facilitating the lack of food which makes them unable to work in the future.

Although some general consideration has taken place, the amount of aid is inadequate, and there is still a need for this aid to reach the community. The corruption which is occuring violates Article 25 Part 1 of the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights which states, "Everyone has the right to a stndard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing, medical care and neccessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, dissability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

Once proper physical condititon is resotred there are two possible things which the government must do. The reason why the governemt should take responsibility is that these people are unable to change their conditions. Furthermore, lack of proper government regulation allowed the proprietors to simply leave the farms. One of these changes is to train the persons in the community in new worthwhile fields or relocated them to other areas where they can continue tea farming. The other possible change the government must make is to rebuilt the community.

1 comment:

aditi said...

It's all well and good to say that everyone has a right to employment, to basic living conditions and amenities, and that everyone has a right to choose where they want to work. But what do you do when your skills limit your job options, when every single level of hierarchy is corrupt, and each man tries to better himself at the expense of another? India is a country facing high economic growth but increasing gaps between the rich and the poor. Levels of corruption are high and checks on such corruption are low and restricted. What India, and in this case specifically Bengal, needs is a check on its corruption, for the government and its state representatives to keep track of estate owners, the conditions and wages given to their employees and a chance for the growth of their employees. Without such checks, the rich will keep exploiting and the poor will keep getting exploited. Proprietors of tea farms exploit because they can. This exploitation directly leads to lower standards of living and subsequently malnutrition. Hence, to eradicate such problems, it is vital to start at the grass root level and improve legislation and Government functioning by keeping a stricter watch on corruption at the higher levels.