Nutrition is a bigger problem than hunger

Incisive article by Swaminathan Aiyer.

…The big problem is malnutrition, not hunger. A recent survey revealed anaemia rates of 51-74% in women and small children. Of children under three, 47% were underweight and 45% stunted by global standards. Protein deficiency is a culprit.

How do we focus on nutrition rather than presumed hunger? Not through ever-rising subsidies on food. Sonia Gandhi wants subsidized grain even for better-off folk. This aims to provide electoral security for Sonia. Don’t confuse it with food security..

..Ajai Shankar, former industry secretary, has an excellent suggestion for self-targeting in food — mix wheat flour (atta) with soya flour, raising its protein content but making it less palatable. Richer folk will not eat this, but poor people will. Such protein fortification of atta could help reduce protein deficiency in pregnant women and children. Ajai Shankar also suggests offering brown, unpolished rice, which has more nutrition but is less palatable than white rice, and so will be self-targeted at the poor.

I would fortify atta with not only soya but iron (to combat anaemia), iodine (to combat goitre) and Vitamin A (to combat night blindness). This will cost very little extra, yet combat serious nutritional deficiencies. It’s not a silver bullet: other nutritional programmes need overhaul and strengthening too.

Brown rice has two drawbacks. First, it can be resold by shopkeepers to mills at a huge profit, so the PDS incentive for massive diversion will remain. Atta mixed with soya cannot be unmixed, and so eliminates diversion.

A bigger objection should be to rice in any form. Rice is the most expensive cereal, and guzzles the most water. It requires 22 irrigations per crop against eight for wheat. Rice cultivation is sustainable in high rainfall areas, but is environmentally disastrous in moderate-rainfall areas (Punjab, Haryana). It lowers the water table precipitously, so drinking-water wells and shallow tubewells of small farmers run dry, and some of them commit suicide.

Any food entitlements should be for basic food, not for the most expensive cereal. A right to rice is conceptually like Marie Antoinette’s right to cake. For centuries, poor Indians have eaten coarse grain (bajra, jowar) costing half as much as rice. If necessary, India can export rice to finance imports of twice as much coarse grain, which can then be fortified with nutritional supplements for the PDS. It will be self-targeting: richer folk will not buy it..

Sound suggestions . Will a govt that allows millions of tonnes of food grains to rot have the will to do something meaningful for the poor ?

Bag a cool Clean Planet bag

We’re in the mood for some serious flattery and honest feedback !

Tell us what you LOVE about Clean Planet.

Feedback may be posted here or on Clean Planet Facebook page or mailed to

On 7 Sep 2010 – 7 lucky winners will be rewarded with a cool Clean Planet bag.

p.s – multiple entries allowed….if you charm us twice you’ll still get 1 bag.

Clean Planet Scholarship

At Clean Planet we are committed to initiatives that support the creation of a sustainable world – eco initiatives , education support , skill building and employment opportunities. Our idea is not just monetary assistance but to bring our professional and personal abilities , our extended community to the endeavors.

Education is essential in the goal towards a more equitable , sustainable world. The lack of opportunity to education changes the course of millions of lives. Naturally , access to education changes the course of the person’s life . Education benefits not just the individual – but his/her family and community too.

We’re pleased to share the news about Clean Planet scholarship to support education and facilitate mentoring for children and adults.

Clever Little Bag

Puma decided to do away with boxes for packing shoes . Seems they researched it for 21 months and hired Yves Behar. The outcome was to do away with the box and use a bag. This is possibly a very corporate way of doing things . Take ages and hire a famous consultant. The suggestion could have come from a Puma associate . But , minus the stamp of a famous person it may not have gotten the blessings of the powers that be at the corporate HQ. We do hope that the bag is made of a biodegradable material.

Whatever the pathway we appreciate the initiative by Puma to relook at the packaging. Scores of other companies and industries need to relook at packaging at retail and in their production chain to minimize the environmental impact.

Meanwhile , for a super cool , clever little bag you just need to head here !

Exercise your power

Do you know how POWERFUL you are ? Like a stone dropped in water that creates waves – you can start waves of joy – for a loved one , friend , co-worker , stranger, anyone . Genuine , conscious acts of kindness , love and thoughtfulness.

- Acknowledge someone for their presence in your life

- Express love and appreciation in unexpected , creative , genuine ways

- SMILE. Sometimes that’s all it takes to brighten up someone’s day.

- Be present to the person

- Listen

- Offer your time and help to someone who needs it

The list can go on . You’ll notice that none of this requires money (in any significant form ) . All it takes is the intention and the willingness to light the flame of joy.

Past and future of a product

Interesting chair by Scott Garcia that serves as a reminder of the origin of the chair.

Awareness of the origin and the future of a product may enable more thought in purchases ? More thoughtful

purchases ?

Inspiring a Clean(er) Planet

One of our Japanese retail clients recently informed us that their store team were mighty impressed by Clean Planet.

Inspired by Clean Planet they have done away with plastic bags , plastic clips, metal pins , plastic band for collar , tissue paper. Garments are soft packed and given to the customers in paper bags.

One of the many ways in which we are inspiring…and enabling a Clean(er) Planet !

One wild and precious life..

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver

Happy Today

Life is found only in the present moment. I think we should have a holiday to celebrate this fact . We have holidays for so many occasions – New Year ,  Christmas , Mother’s Day , Father’s Day , Earth Day – why not celebrate a day when we can live happily in the present moment all day long ? I would like to declare today “Today’s Day” , a day dedicated to touching the earth,touching the sky , touching the trees, and touching the peace that is available in the present moment.

Thich Nhat Hanh

We the customer(s)

Our voice as a customer matters. Often we find (in India) customers being passively tolerant of bad service , poor quality, waste. Or being aggressive.There is a mid path (and a necessary one) of being assertive and persistent.

When you encounter bad quality , poor service , waste – pl take a few mins to assertively voice your feedback. Equally important – Suggestions . If you’d like your local supermarket to stock organic products then ask to meet the section-in-charge or the store manager to share your views. Request your family n friends to do so as well. Doing this consistently improves the odds of the change you are seeking to manifest.

And hey , pl acknowledge good service and practices !

Remember , no one can do everything, but everyone can do something.