It’s estimated that 30% of the world’s malnourished children live in India and that over 60 percent of Indian children are underweight or stunted as a result of this malnutrition.
The Global Hunger Index ranks developing nations based on specific criteria believed to indicate hunger and vulnerability to hunger. Alarmingly, India ranks number 62 out of 81 progressing countries on the scale.
Despite increasing tourist numbers in India, and consequently, increasing external funds circulating the country, India remains a developing nation with a considerable poverty crisis on its hands.
Travellers to India frequently recount this level of poverty and often witnessing it right in front of you, rather than as numbers on the news or a website, can be both confronting and moving. As a result, we often feel inclined to give money to beggars on the street, particularly women nursing children, as we see them in need of our help. But this dynamic by definition, precipitates this inequality, for we become ‘Saviours’ trying to fix the problems faced by the ‘troubled Other’.
Nonetheless, there are ways that we can help combat poverty and malnutrition in India in ways that promote self-sufficiency and equality between ‘us’ and ‘them’:
- Donate to charities that are committed to educating people on the ins-and-outs of sustainable living (i.e. don’t just give someone a potato, show them how to grow potatoes)
- Don’t give money to children on the street, buy them some food and watch them eat it. This way the child is fed and the money doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.
When thinking about travelling smarter, we must remember we are visitors to this culture not saviours. After all, what makes one human better than another?