Indian priests arrested for marrying off their children

Indian Hindu priests perform Arti evening prayers at Sangam during the annual 'Magh Mela' in Allahabad on January 29, 2017. Two Hindu priests have been arrested in India for marrying off their teenage children, police said Monday. (AFP / SANJAY KANOJIA)
Updated 06 February 2017

Indian priests arrested for marrying off their children

NEW DELHI: Two priests have been arrested in India for marrying off their teenage children in a secret ceremony they believed would bring prosperity to their families, police said Monday.
Three others, including the mothers of the betrothed, were also detained when police broke up the Hindu wedding rituals in the southern city of Hyderabad.
Police, acting on a tip off, discovered dozens of family members present at the secretive ceremony to wed the 15 and 13-year-old teenagers.
“We received information about the wedding and during the raid rescued the children before arresting the five accused,” police inspector Narender Goud told AFP.
Their parents claimed the marriage was a family tradition premised on the belief that it would bring them good fortune, Goud said.
The priests justified the union by claiming they too were married at the same age.
Child marriages are illegal in India but the practice remains widespread, especially in rural and poorer parts of the country where superstitious beliefs are rife.
The teenagers alleged they were compelled to marry by their parents, Goud said. They remain at a local child welfare agency.
Almost half of all Indian women aged 20-24 married between 2005 and 2013 were wedded before the legal age of 18, a UNICEF report said last year.
Many parents in India marry off their children in the hope of improving their financial security and to avoid the shame associated with pre-marital sex.


Indian govt slammed over poor ranking in global hunger index

Visitors try out food at 'Bengaluru Aaharotsava', a 3-day vegetarian food festival, in Bangalore on October 18, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 19 October 2019

Indian govt slammed over poor ranking in global hunger index

  • This ranking reveals a colossal failure in Govt policy and blows the lid off the PM’s hollow ‘sabka vikas’ (development for all) claim,” tweeted Rahul Gandhi, who leads the opposition Congress party

NEW DELHI: India’s poor rating in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) has come in for sharp criticism, with the opposition calling it a “colossal failure of government policy.”
The GHI showed that India ranked 102 in the database of 117 nations and trailed its smaller South Asian neighbors Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. In 2000, India ranked 83 out of 113 nations.
The index is designed to measure and track hunger at a global, regional, and national level. The report, which was released on Wednesday, was a joint effort between Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and German organization Welt Hunger Hilfe.
“This ranking reveals a colossal failure in Govt policy and blows the lid off the PM’s hollow ‘sabka vikas’ (development for all) claim,” tweeted Rahul Gandhi, who leads the opposition Congress party.
Thomas Isaac, finance minister in the southern state of Kerala, said: “The slide started with PM (Narendra) Modi’s ascension. In 2014 India was ranked 55. In 2017 it slipped to 100 and now to the levels of Niger and Sierra Leone. The majority of the world’s hungry now resides in India.”
The GHI score is based on four indicators — undernourishment; child wasting (children below five who have a low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition); child stunting, (children under the age of five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition); and child mortality, the mortality rate of children under the age of five.
“India’s child wasting rate is extremely high at 20.8 percent, the highest for any country,” the report said. It added that, with a score of 30.3, India suffered from a level of hunger that was serious.

BACKGROUND

The Global Hunger Index showed that India ranked 102 in the database of 117 nations and trailed its smaller South Asian neighbors Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. In 2000, India ranked 83 out of 113 nations.

International NGO Save the Children  said the government needed to focus on wasting and stunting. Other low- and middle-income countries in the world which are faring better have actually scored better than India in those two areas, it added.
“There are nearly 1.8 million children in the country who are wasting and for that we will need comprehensive interventions, including the provision of therapeutic foods for such children to be managed at a community level,” it told Arab News.
The NGO warned of serious social consequences, with wasting leading to impaired cognitive ability and poor learning outcomes. “Furthermore, for underweight and stunted girls, it invokes a vicious cycle whereby initial malnutrition with early child-bearing gets translated into poor reproductive health outcomes.”
Arab News contacted the Child and Family Welfare Ministry for comment but did not get a response.
Nepal ranks 73 in the index, Sri Lanka is placed at 66, Bangladesh is in 88th place, Myanmar is at the 69th spot and Pakistan ranks 94.
The GHI said these countries were also in the serious hunger category, but that their citizens fared better than India’s.