It was the summer of 2020. With the pandemic raging across an India under a hard lockdown, journalist Daya Sagar was reporting from Uttar Pradesh, when he discovered the “Parle-G girl”. Not the cherub on the packaging of the biscuit brand—which had itself generated a fair bit of controversy and fake news a few years ago—but the year-and-a-half-old Preeti—who hit the headlines for having survived only on Parle-G dipped in water for five days.
Preeti was not alone. Sagar recalls that in those days, it was quite common to find migrant families feeding their children Parle-G to keep them alive. “It was not their first choice. But there simply was nothing else to eat,” he says.