Tag Archives: malnutrition in india

Insights Daily Answer Writing Challenge – Day 11

QUESTIONS ASKED – DAY-11 (30/07/2013)

1) What is malnutrition and undernourishment? Why is India according to some reports, in spite of surplus food grain production, home to a large number of stunted, wasted and underweight children in the world?  Explain. (300 Words)

2)“In the post-independence India, the myth of Balkanization was belied by the peaceful reorganization of India into various linguistic states. Few decades later, development is taking precedence over language in deciding the dynamics of states’ reorganization”. Critically comment.

RESPONSES:

  1. NITISH K
    2 Votes

    What is malnutrition and undernourishment? Why is India according to some reports, in spite of surplus food grain production, home to a large number of stunted, wasted and underweight children in the world? Explain. (300 Words)

    Ans:Malnutrition refers to intake of an unbalanced diet in which certain nutrients are lacking.Mere intake of carbohydrates does not complete nutrition,it must be supplemented by nutrients like proteins, vitamins ,minerals like sodium calcium etc,fats etc.
    A large number of reports point out that nearly half of India,s children suffer from malnutrition and it is worst in India when compared to subsaharan african countries.This creates a dismal picture,especially after decades of consistant growth.
    The prominent reasons for malnutrition among children are:

    * Improper Agricultural policy:It is said that in India,Buffer storage is nearly 3 times more than the required strategic levels.These huge stocks are rotting due to lack of storage space and also fuel inflation by crowding out the grain markets.
    * Unsatisfactory PDS:nearly 40% of the PDS supplies are diverted to open market thereby impoverishing poor.Also the current PDS except in Tamil nadu provides only cereals like wheat and rice and not pulses ,edible oil etc needed for bolstering nutrient content of poor man’s food basket
    * Reduced pulses and oilseed production:Due to lack of procurement support for pulses and oilseeds,farmlands are diverted to rice ,wheat and sugarcane.
    * Lack of information:the mothers donot know the importance of micronutrients in building the mental and physical health of children
    * vicious cycle:Usually due to poor status of women ,they are not given adequate care during pregnancy and also during first few months of child delivary.This decreases the nutritional content of mothers milk.Also adolscent girls ,due to gender bias ,donot get proper nutrients .They give birth to weak girls who in future get married and again continue the cycle of malnutrition.
    * Absence of creches:Due to this usually mother is forced to leave the child at the care of elder sibling when she goes out to work.This affects the nutrition of the child.

    Unless measures are taken on warfooting,we will not be able to exploit our demographic dividend ,which inevitablely would become a demographic nightmare.

    • NITISH K
      2 Votes

      2)“In the post-independence India, the myth of Balkanization was belied by the peaceful reorganization of India into various linguistic states. Few decades later, development is taking precedence over language in deciding the dynamics of states’ reorganization”. Critically comment.

      Ans:
      Barring some minor outbreak of violence ,the linguistic reorganisation of states was largely peaceful.Also the prophecy of the western observers that India would soon become disintegrated into mutually hostile independent states was shown false.The main reason for this was the common bond developed between the people as well nationalist leaders developed in their fight against tyrant British.Also the shared pain suffered by the people by the loss of east and west Pakistan preempted any further misadventure.More importantly the nature of federalism which had a strong center and destructible states, also played a great role in strengthening the unity and integrity of India.Any antinational activity by state govts could be nipped at the bud itself through president’s rule.Also the great role played by statesmen like Pandit Nehru and Sardar Patel also prevented balkanisation of India.

      Now we see that ,many groups are demanding further creation of states on the basis of developmental bias.Some states like chattishgarh ,Jharkandh and uttarakand were created on this basis for promoting development.There is also enduring demand for new states.Prominent examples being Telangana,Gorkaland,vidarba region etc.Here it is difficult to differentiate between genuine aspiration for development versus aspiration of vested interests to gain political power.Is there any guarantee that a separate state would be a harbinger of development?Will the widely prevalent corruption and maladministration cease to exist?Will people have more say in day to day administration?Or will the MLAs represent the people or the party high command?These are the more intrinsic questions that one needs to ask before contemplating further states.

      Rather than more and more states,which will inevitably create more regional parties and thus greater instability in governance,paramount thrust must be empowering the panchayat raj institutions which has the potential for transforming the way people interact with govt.

      • Asha Goud
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        Hi Nitish, I think its a very good answer. Conclusion provided is very innovative.

        • Anjali Motghare
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          Nitish overall good answer, but I feel question asks whether demand is made on development or not. U did’nt concluded anything about that.

    • NITISH K
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      An important reason for malnutrition which I missed:
      Open defecation: this leads to diseases like diarrhea,dysentery etc leading to loss of nutrients and minerals from the body.

  2. 3 Votes

    22) What is malnutrition and undernourishment? Why is India according to some reports, in spite of surplus food grain production, home to a large number of stunted, wasted and underweight children in the world? Explain. (300 Words)
    Ans
    Malnutrition and undernourishment are used for measuring the nutritional intake of a child and are major part of health indicators. Malnutrition is when a child eats food which does not provide the enough nutrition for growth of his /her potential while undernourishment is when a child does not get the required quantity of food intake and low calorie intake. Both these have contributed for infants’ mortality and morbidity, stunted growth, make them prone to diseases and act as inhabitant to mental and physical growth of a child.
    Many reports pointed out that India has a bulging number (more than 42%) of malnourished and undernourished children. Despite the fact that India boast of having produced record food grains every year, its number of children suffering from malnutrition are also increasing. Many factors are responsible malnutrition :

    1. Accessibility and Affordability : Most part of the population in India have lack of access to food grains either because of high prices in the market or because of poor implementation of PDS which account for major transmission and distribution losses and does not reach the intended beneficiary.
    2. Low nutritional content: While government provide cooked food in all government schools under its mid day meal scheme, the nutritional content in the food in very low or not up to standards. The food storage is unhygienic leading to loss of nutritional contents
    3. Feeding practices: There is a lack of awareness on the part of pregnant and lactating mothers. It has been pointed out that mother’s milk is the most imperative factor which provides protection and helps built immunity. Most mothers don’t eat well during pregnancy and do not breastfed their child during the first 6 months of child birth.
    4. Due to lack of diagnostic and early detection health services, many children suffer from diseases which inhibit their growth. Tough government implement various programs like ICDS but no programme screens children and provide double rations for those who are under nourished.
    All this requires a paradigm shift from child food security to nutritional security, untargeted food supplements to screening of all children from vulnerable groups, promotion of appropriate dietary intake and integrated comprehensive services to improve health and nutrition

  3. Nirmal Singh
    4 Votes

    1.
    Malnutrition is a lack of adequate nutrition resulting from insufficient food, unbalanced diet, or defective assimilation.This is due to the absence of nutrients.Malnourishment is not having enough food to develop or function normally.Poverty is the main culprit here.

    It is indeed a tragedy that in spite of surplus food grain production, India is home to a large number of stunted, wasted and underweight children in the world.This is due to a number of reasons
    First,the majority of children belongs to SC,ST,identified tribes and Slums which lacks access to government schemes like PDS and other social security programs which requires identification proofs like Adhaar Card.The recent decision of government to extend DBT to food subsidy on basis of bank account ,if implemented would worsen the same.
    Second,The food given under Mid day meal and PDS is mostly rice and wheat which satisfy only partial needs of nutrition.The other nutritious elements like proteins and zinc are absent which causes malnutrition.
    Third,the lack of information and awareness especially in rural areas has compounded the problem.The recent initiative of Health ministry with Aamir khan as brand ambassador to address the same is welcome initiative.
    Fourth,the present issue is intimately linked to mother healthcare,which is abysmal condition considering the fact cases of anemia,insufficient nutrition available during pregnancy is among the highest in the world which translates into malnutrition.Another related issue is low practice of breastfeeding which provides immunity to child in early years.Milk banks can be a good step in this direction
    Fifth,the absence of hygiene,unsafe drinking water and sanitation is a big factor considering the fact India is home to largest open defection which is source of a number of diseases leading to malnutrition.It must be remembered that India share of healthcare to GDP is too low the address the issues.
    Lastly the poverty and backwardness of states has set the ground for malnutrition growth.

  4. K Partha
    1 Vote

    1)
    While Malnutrition is the condition caused by eating too little, too much or an unbalanced diet that does not contain the right quantity and quality of nutrients necessary for adequate nutrition, Undernourishment is the condition caused by insufficient food intake and repeated infectious diseases. Undernourishment results in being underweight for one’s age, stunted, wasted and deficient in vitamins and minerals.When individuals are undernourished, they can no longer maintain natural bodily capacities.

    The production of food grains in 2011-12 was at a record high of 259.32 million tones. Despite the surplus production India is home to one out of every three malnourished children(UNICEF).

    The growth in agricultural production in India doesn’t have the support of an efficient distribution and storage system. Unavailability of proper storage facilities have led to food grains rotting in the storage facility. There have been suggestions to distribute the food grains for free but it might lead to crashing of prices and might be a negative incentive for farmers. So it calls for efficient stocks management, timely offloading of stocks and predictable trade policy.

    Poor feeding of infants and young children, especially the lack of optimal breastfeeding and responsive complementary feeding, along with such illnesses as diarrhoea, pneumonia, malaria are major causes of undernourishment. So better implementation of Govt Programmes like ICDS and NMBS which take care of the nutrition needs of the women and the child is the need of the hour. Further More awareness is needed for consumption of healthy food in right amount(balanced diet).

    In India 73% households defecate in the open which is a result of lack of awareness and gap between availability and adequacy of toilets. Open defecation is a major reason for diseases like diarrhea(which can be easily prevented).So greater emphasis on sanitation and strengthening of Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan can address this.

    Further the national food security bill/Ordinance if implemented properly can go a long way in addressing the nutrition issues.

  5. Rate This Response!

    23) “In the post-independence India, the myth of Balkanization was belied by the peaceful reorganization of India into various linguistic states. Few decades later, development is taking precedence over language in deciding the dynamics of states’ reorganization”. Critically comment.
    Ans
    Balkanization as a geopolitical process which describes the fragmentation of a state into smaller states which are often inimical to each other. When India got independence, it adopted a federal constitution. Despite cultural, lingual diversity, India was declared as Union of States so that India would not disassociate into different states and shall remain as one whole unit. But soon demands were raised regarding creation of new linguistic states. The government appointed Fazal Ali Commission that recommended organization of states on linguistic basis. The States reorganization Act 1956 was instrumental in creating many states on lingual basis.
    However post economic reforms and liberalization, globalization and privatization, there had been a continuous spurt in the economic activities in different part of the country leading to mushrooming of islands of growth in the sea of underdevelopment. This led to a disparity between different regions and disproportionate growth in certain pockets. The prosperity of one region over the other brought back the demand for creation of new states but which is developmental oriented. Every region wanted to reap the benefit of economic liberalization and that led to demand for creation of different states on the basis of backwardness in the economic developmental indicator.
    Nevertheless, the experience of smaller states supported the theory of balkanization because of the growing hostility between different states which are forcefully bound by supreme constitution. The creation of more states, either on linguistic or developmental basis, has led to growing discontent on different issue ranging from water sharing, tax imposition on interstate trade to rise of sons of the soil. The growing intolerance is in fact a clear indication and inclination of the states towards its rejection of the current political system. But as they are bound by constitution and only parliament is the supreme authority to alter the boundaries of states, India is still one entity in which voices have been raised in the form of developmental regionalism.

    • Asha Goud
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      Hi Sahil,
      i don’t think inter state disputes for river water use is a strong support for the theory of balkanisation of the country. The states in India are not hostile to each other.
      Can you provide an example.?

      • 1 Vote

        Hi Asha,
        The recent political skirmishes between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over Cauvery water sharing despite of SC directive can be construed as an example.
        The confrontation between Haryana and Punjab over hansi butana canal is another example.Though different mechanisms like constitutional provisions are there, still the problem persist which define a dis-junction between a nation and a state.

      • 1 Vote

        Further balkanisation, in crude way is fractured nationalism. India share political and territorial unity but lack emotional integration which is expressed by different political vested interest for different political gains or in the form of developmental disparity or on the basis of language. The creation of states should be based on administrative viability and efficiency rather than short term political gains which lead to fragmentation of a nation. One may find himself in limbo when he see India as a state searching for nation or a state of states which are searching for nations.

        • Asha Goud
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          Thank you Sahil for your response.
          You have rightly called the disputes as “Political skirmishes” , the disputes relating to distribution of resources are blown out of proportion just to gain some vote bank.
          Regional political parties have emerged in states and since they belong to only one particular state they lack the national outlook.
          Post independence we had one major political party, Congress, and level of co operation among states was higher.

  6. K Partha
    2 Votes

    2)
    During colonial rule the state boundaries were drawn on administrative convenience.But our national movement was in favor of linguistic reorganization. But because of the unpleasant experiences during partition carving of states on the basis of language didn’t happen immediately after independence. There was fear that it might lead to Balkanization (disruption and disintegration) of India.

    The formation of Andhra Pradesh and the struggle in different parts of the country for separate states led to the formation of State Reorganization commission in 1953 and finally 14 states and 6 UTs were carved out on the basis of language. Contrary to the fears the reorganization has actually accommodated the regional demands to a greater extent. It strengthened national unity.

    But now also there are at least 31 separate struggles going on for independent statehood. The demands are made on the basis of the lack of development. But a careful analysis will show that it is due to non-congruence between cultural boundary and administrative boundary. In many cases, the present states haven’t been successful in creating common linguistic, administrative and political identity among the people living within the different regions of the state. For example, the people of Telengana cherish their history and tradition of cultural synthesis as their identity, instead of Telegu language. So there is a demand for separate state.

    So the dynamics of state reorganization are being affected due to the cultural heterogeneity of different regions in a state rather than just the issue of lack of development.

    • Asha Goud
      1 Vote

      Hi K Partha,
      i liked the second part of the answer, you put forward a different perspective.
      However you took example of Telengana, can this argument of similar history tradition and culture be for demand for vidharbha.?

      • K Partha
        1 Vote

        Hi Asha,
        I am not saying that economic imbalance doesn’t play any role.But this difference is generally felt when the integration hasn’t happened, when a new pan state identity hasn’t been created.Creation of Pan state identity is not always on the basis of relative deprivation, it can be due to variety of reasons like ecological distinctiveness (Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand etc) or ethnical homogeniety (Punjab, TN etc)[This are the states where demand of separate statehood hasn't happened].

        The issue of Vidharbha is not new. The state reorganisation commission in 1956 had recommended for the creation of “Vidarbha state” with Nagpur as the capital.But finally it was included in Maharashtra state using the linguistic principle. Vidharbha has had a distinct identity since 1853 when Nagpur Province was created by British annexations.

        So I feel its not “just” development concerns which fuel demand for separate statehood.

        • Asha Goud
          Rate This Response!

          Thank you, K Partha.
          You provided a new perspective of looking at the issue to me.

  7. riddhu
    2 Votes

    In the post-independence India, the myth of Balkanization was belied by the peaceful reorganization of India into various linguistic states. Few decades later, development is taking precedence over language in deciding the dynamics of states’ reorganization”. Critically comment

    Post independence the most crucial question facing the nation was of reorganizing the states. SK Dhar commission and JVP committee in 1948 rejected linguistic reorganization lest it would result in linguistic chauvinism and a threat to national unity. Creation of AndhraPradesh in 1953 led to demand on the same basis by other states and finally SRC in 1956 led to redrawing map of India on linguistic basis.

    The experience over the years has been positive, the creation on linguistic ground has not adversely affected federal relations nor has any state out cried any discrimination on linguistic ground. On the contrary it has made education possible in mother tongue leading to wide jump in literacy, and administration in mother tongue has bridged the gap between government and citizens and instead of acting as divider has acted as binder for national unity and has belied the myth of Balkanization.

    Over the time it is realized that certain areas of the state in spite of having the same language as that of the state are visibly underdeveloped resulting in glaring intrastate inequality. Creation of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh and recent demand for Telangana is not on linguistic but on development grounds. So, it is true that development issues are now taking front seat.

  8. Anjali Motghare
    1 Vote

    Malnutrition: It is state of poor nutrition; can result from insufficient or excessive or unbalanced diet.
    Undernourishment: Not having enough food to develop or function normally.
    Undernourishment is arise from the non-availability of food.
    As per HUNGaMA Report 42 per cent children in India stunted, wasted, and underweight.
    India has shown high growth rate for over a 15 years despite that it houses a world’s largest underweight children. Reasons for such horrendous situations are, growth is unequal.
    We have surplus production of food. Large quantities of food grains
    get wasted in government granaries instead of being supplied to hungry people.
    Poverty is one cause and other is supply-chain mechanism.
    Instead of having TPDS its ineffective implentation aggravate the situation. Study finds that most of the time food grain does’t reach
    to intended benificiary. MGNREGA is somewhat successful but it doesn’t add much to income of household. Mead Day Meal does not help infants in the two-three-year age group who are the most vulnerable to nutrition insufficiency.
    Malnutrition is mainly caused by unawareness. ‘In India almost 92 per cent mother don’t have knowledge about nutrition, nor they heard the word malnutrition’ a report says.
    We can allay the situation by changing some our systems like:
    Loopholes in TPDS needs to be removed, hopefully new food bill will address the issue, Its successful implementation can be assured by civil societies participation which will ensure transparency and accountability.
    ICDS shown positive results but, it is facing insufficient fund and manpower, so its penetration needs to be increased by fulfilling its requirement.
    Tamilnadu’s Amma kitchen is a successful programme its implementaion can be extended to whole country as per situations demand.
    Increasing awareness in mother about nutrition via anganwadi workers and ASHA.
    by making agriculture more pro-nutrition by focussing it more on what people living in poverty grow, eat, and need nutritionally.

    • Asha Goud
      1 Vote

      Hi anjali,
      i think your answer started right on track but slowly towards the end it shifted more towards food security rather than staying on the issue of child malnutrition.

  9. Asha Goud
    2 Votes

    Q What is malnutrition and undernourishment? Why is India according to some reports, in spite of surplus food grain production, home to a large number of stunted, wasted and underweight children in the world? Explain. (300 Words)

    A: Malnutrition is a medical condition where the body doesn’t get the required nutrition in proper proportion and therefore can lead to either over nutrition or under nutrition. The condition of over nutrition is seen in developed countries.
    Undernourishment is a type of malnutrition where body doesn’t get the required minimum amount of calories, protein, vitamins for proper growth and maintenance of the body. Undernourishment is a cause of conditions like marasmus and kwashiorkar.

    A survey conducted by WHO worldwide to study the prevalence of malnutrition among children have found that 1 out of every 3 malnourished in the world is from India. The total number of underweight children in India exceeds that in the whole of Sub Saharan countries. Thus it becomes very important to find out the causes and solutions for this widespread malnutrition among Indian children.

    However Malnutrition and Under nutrition are not result of only lack of food but due to lack of proper nutrition and the reasons are wide ranging.
    Health of mother is during pregnancy and after pregnancy are very crucial to the health of the child. In India women working in the unorganized sector work during pregnancy and immediately after child birth as there is no provision of paid leave to them. Therefore the child due to lack of proper care becomes vulnerable.

    Early marriages resulting in early pregnancies, where the girl is not fit for pregnancy gives birth to a weak child and then lack of proper health care leads to malnutrition.

    Due to lack of sanitation and availability of clean drinking water in the slums a large number of children living there are vulnerable to diseases like diarrhea- a major cause of under nourishment among children.

    Lastly India is a food grain surplus country, but lacks in a well functioning PDS. Also PDS adopts a minimalistic approach supplying the basic minimum of rice and wheat, there is no provision for pulses, vegetables, milk which are very important for growth of a child.

    Therefore it becomes very important to focus on the health of mother and child during pregnancy and immediately after child birth. Programs like the ICDS, mid day meals, Janani Suraksha Yojana are effectively implemented through proper training given to the Anganwadi workers and ASHAs.

    • Kirthi
      Rate This Response!

      You have rightly pointed the issue of early marriages which comes in societal context.

  10. Asha Goud
    3 Votes

    Q “In the post-independence India, the myth of Balkanization was belied by the peaceful reorganization of India into various linguistic states. Few decades later, development is taking precedence over language in deciding the dynamics of states’ reorganization”. Critically comment.

    A: After India got independence the states that were formed were not based on any particular principle. States were formed by consolidating adjoining Princely states among themselves or with the already existing states.

    The issue of state reorganization was first taken up by constituent assembly in 1948 and commission under SK Dhar was constituted and it rejected language as a principle for state reorganization. But by that time demand for linguistic states had started emerging from all parts of India. Based on the demands of the people states were created based on common languages. It was predicted that linguistic provinces would initiate the process of disintegration of India but instead India as a nation became stronger and stable. The demand of linguistic states emerged from the people and it further strengthen ideal of democracy.

    In the current scenario language is no more the major issue for states as it is already addressed, also certain regions within the states remained backward and neglected. These backward regions demand separation as the existing state has not been successful providing them growth. The state of Jharkhand and Chattisgarh are examples of such states. In the same ways the demand of Telengana, Vidharbha, Saurastra is on the issue of development and the neglect by the existing state.

  11. Nirmal Singh
    1 Vote

    QUESTION 2:
    “In the post-independence India, the myth of Balkanization was belied by the peaceful reorganization of India into various linguistic states. Few decades later, development is taking precedence over language in deciding the dynamics of states’ reorganization”. Critically comment.

    Answer:
    India is federal country with diverse cultures which at large is divided on the basis of linguistic differences.After 1991 globalization and eventual development ,some regions lagged behind development which fueled demand for new states.
    Owing to asymmetries in development people became more vocal about their aspirations.This gave them more political representation which caters to their exclusive needs.In an era where economy decides everything,the demand seems more realistic.The creation of such states will provide them much needed central funds which translates into homogenous development.At the same time it will create level playing field by providing more opportunities in the forms of jobs which majority government hitherto has ignored.This will further address administrative
    difficulties.
    The same has given birth to menace of coalition politics
    further destabilizing parliamentary democracy.The coalition politics sustain its existence by creating “empires within empires” risking India unity in diversity.The Naxalism which is termed as biggest internal security threat
    found its origin in demand for development.Further bowing to such demands will fuel from other regions and will promote minority thinking.
    It must be realized that development is more complex function of culture,geography and history ,therefor needs a holistic approach.The tendency towards creating more states should be avoided. The more prudent steps would be to create a federation as exist in US with equal political powers and more devolution of economic powers to states as it
    is lack of funds which fuels such demands.

    • Nirmal Singh
      Rate This Response!

      Please suggest any improvement i think it is missing somewhat but don’t know what

      • Rate This Response!

        Examples are missing. This question was asked after taking hint from Telangana situation.

        Also, mention of coalition politics and Naxalism is not needed here. (though Naxalism apparently stems from grievance of lack of development and host of other reasons, it is irrelevant here – they are not for reorganization of states in India, they want to overthrow the whole system itself)

        Your first paragraph is actually beautiful. It sums up the whole answer.

  12. riddhu
    Rate This Response!

    1.What is malnutrition and undernourishment? Why is India according to some reports, in spite of surplus food grain production, home to a large number of stunted, wasted and underweight children in the world?
    Undernourishment is the lack of sufficient quantity of food and malnutrition is not just about quantity but also about right type of food . It can be said that all undernourished children are malnourished but reverse may not be true as many obese children are found to be not undernourished but are malnourished.
    The root cause is poverty which hampers access to right quantity , right quality and right type of food . In spite of surplus food grain production the logistic inefficiency in distribution has resulted in its non availability to the needy which has resulted in undernourishment.
    Policy makers instead of focusing on well balanced diet which consists of not only grains but also of pulses, vegetables and milk and edible oil have focussed merely on food grains which has resulted in malnutrition. Now of course attempts are made to increase nutrition value of food by fortification and golden rice is a good example yet more balancing is needed.
    Poor Indian women in most of the case are inadequately fed and highly anemic and during the time of pregnancy is also over burdened and hence when she gives birth to child the chances of maternal mortality, infant mortality or that of both are high and the child so born suffers from undernourishment from the womb which increases its chance of being stunted, wasted and underweight if it survives. Child labour,lack of access to clean drinking water and sanitation aggravates the situation.
    Mid day meals schemes have done fair yet it also need to revamped and more bothering are recent incidents. The initiatives like giving cash to pregnant and lactating woman so she need not work those days and can feed her self and child sufficiently are worthy yet the findings by the Hungama report and other reports by United Nations reveal a lot has to be done.

  13. Keerthi Narayan
    3 Votes

    Though malnutrition and undernourishment seem to be similar, there is a subtle difference between the two terms. Malnutrition is lack of nutrition required for proper growth and it can be due to inadequate food intake, intake of food, but lack of essential nutrients in the diet or inability of the body to absorb nutrients from the food. Undernourishment is lack of nutrition essentially due to inadequate food intake.

    The recent UNICEF report states that India has the largest no. of children under 5 facing malnutrition in the world, a whopping 61 million. Malnutrition leads to stunted growth, poor development of brain, underweight and lack of immunity to withstand diseases.

    India’s agricultural output has been increasing in the past few years.There has been difficulty in storing the excess grains produced as India lacks enough storage space for food grains.

    However, the excess food grains and malnutrition should not be directly correlated. As defined earlier, malnutrition is not only because of inadequate food intake but also due to intake of food which does not have all nutrients required for a balanced growth. The major reasons of malnutrition are:

    1. Poverty: As said, inadequate food is one of the reasons for malnutrition. Around 30% of the population in India lingers in dire poverty even by official estimates. Inspite of social welfare programs and schemes like mid day meal, children in India still find it difficult to have 3 meals a day

    2. Lack of essential nutrients in food: The spike in Indian food grain production is mainly in cereals like rice and wheat. Pulses, grams, vegetables, fruits, oilseeds are yet to see such surplus. Hence, the average Indian child’s meal lack proteins, vitamins, fat and minerals which are essential for overall growth.

    3. Lack of awareness: The Indian diet is predominantly carbohydrate based. The importance of including greens, vegetables, milk products, meat, fruits are not widely known to every parent.

    4. Lack of Hygiene: Cleanliness and sanitation are not given due importance. Because of this a large number of children are infected by germs which in turn substantially affects their growth during their vital growing years.

    So India needs multi pronged approaches to tackle this grave problem. Only a well balanced growth during the early years will make a intellectual, healthy and productive citizen. To achieve this objective, impetus is to be given to areas like agricultural production of cereals, non-cereals and vegetables, an efficient distribution system, a mass awareness among the literate and illiterate about the importance of balanced diet and stressing of importance of hygiene through formal and informal education.

    2. India attained its Independence after a painful and bloody partition. The sub-continent was divided into two nations based on religion. The builders of new born India were very cautious that the nation’s unity and integrity should not be endangered by any other ‘ism’ like communalism. Hence, in the decade following Independence, when requests came for dividing states based on language, they hesitated. Thats why, the JPC committee formed initially rejected the linguistic proposal.

    However, the sentiments of the states were too strong and ultimately the states were reorganised based on linguistic basis starting from 1953. Instead of dividing the nation and leading to disintegration, the separation on the basis of language, proved to be beneficial. It made administration convenient too. With time, more states were carved out of existing states also.

    However, the division of states gained a new ideology after few decades. Growth and development began to be cited as reasons for demand for new states. The demand for Telangana out of Andhra Pradesh has been lingering on since decades and has gained momentum in the last few years.

    The geographical area of Telangana is not gifted with fertile alluvial soil as the rest of Andhra Pradesh. The literacy rate is poor and unemployment rate is high when compared to coastal Andhra. Decades of glaring inequality between the two regions has strengthened the demand for a separate state.

    Besides Telangana, there are similar demands from other regions as well. The demand for Bodoland for Assam, Bundelkand from UP are few other examples. The primacy given to GDP based economic growth, the surge in economy in the past decade and inequality that resulted out of it are the main reasons for separate state demands taking root in ‘ growth ‘ ideology.

    • lakshmi prasanna
      Rate This Response!

      good coordination among words 2Q

    • Asha Goud
      Rate This Response!

      Hi keerthi,
      i think the demand for Bundelkhand and Bodoland is not on the issue of backwardness or less development.
      vidharbha could have been an example here.
      K Partha and Nitish have pointed out in their conclusions various reasons other than development.

      • Rate This Response!

        First answer has 429 words and second has 291 words. I gave 300 word limit for the first question because I knew it demanded lengthy answer.

        Please don’t take negatively my repeated suggestion to stick to word limit. In GS writing too much costs very dearly. I won’t be reminding you further :-)

        By the way it is JVP committee not JPC committe – Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallbh Bhai Patel and Pattabhi Sitaramaiah were its members.

  14. lakshmi prasanna
    Rate This Response!

    2.The reorganization of the provinces of India on linguistic lines had been one of the demands of the Indian National Congress during the freedom struggle After Independence its demand was raised in various parts of the country.. Dhar Commission in 1948, J.V.P. Commission did not favor the idea of linguistic reorganisation of States. The fast and death of Sriramulu, who was demanding the creation of a Telugu state of Andhra Pradesh forced the government to the reorganization of states early In 1953, Andhra Pradesh was created out of Telugu speaking areas of Madras, Bombay and Central Province. It was the first state to be formed on linguistic basis. In 1954 the commission headed by Justice Fazal Ali recommended the formation of 16 states and 3 centrally administered areas for the Indian Union. Based on this the Union parliament passed the States Reorganisation Act, 1956, 14 States and 6 Union Territories were formed. By 2000, 14 states has become 28 states. Now people of bodoland, dimaraji,darjling, harit pradesh, kongu nadu, kosal mithila, purvanchal, telangana ,tulu nadu, vidarbha, vindhya pradesh,etc demanding separate state on the grounds of development. But fact is centralized Economic planning for balanced regional development, can be difficult in the area which is divided into various States .In addition to this states will be susceptible to: disputes among states, terrorism and naxalism, burden on public expenditure, lacks unity and integrity etc
    Finally though committees and commissions appointed by government rejects, still formation of states continued as the priority is based on political benefits. It doesn’t matter much about peoples sentiments.

  15. Kirthi
    1 Vote

    1.What is malnutrition and undernourishment? Why is India according to some reports, in spite of surplus food grain production, home to a large number of stunted, wasted and underweight children in the world?

    Malnutrition refers to imbalance in intake of nutrients which could result in over nutrition, obesity and undernourishment, where as undernourishment refers to low intake of diet resulting in stunting, underweight, growth retardation etc.

    According to UNICEF , 48% of Indian children are stunted.
    This shows the faulty public health policy

    - PDS/ national food security ordinance has concentrated on rice , wheat which address the problem of extreme hunger but not on vegetable, fruits and vegetables, pulses which improve nutrition status
    - open defection in India is rampant as a result of which nutrients are not sufficiently absorbed irrespective of intake
    - public expenditure on health percent of GDP and per capita public expenditure in India is very low, high out of pocket expenditure push many into poverty
    - existing apparatus concentrates more on curative than preventive aspects, insufficient attention to vaccination
    - more than 70 percent expenditure spend in urban areas, though 69 percent live in villages
    - poor sanitary conditions in villages,slums, absence of piped water supply to majority of villages
    - inefficient PDS – targeting errors,diversion to markets, adulteration
    - illiteracy among parents (ESP women) affects nutrition status of child due to lack of information,importance of early years in growth of child
    - low food intake by pregnant women affects baby and mother which is consequence of widespread poverty

    12FYP working group on universal health care emphasizes private participation in spite of affordable,accessible public provisioning of services. Though incremental steps are taken in form of NRHM,NBA, immunization, provision of piped water supply, much needs to be done and least that can be done is to increase central expenditure 2.5% GDP by end of 12 th FYP as envisaged by working group and concentrate more on preventive than curative aspects.

  16. rahul aggarwal
    Rate This Response!

    1)Malnutrition and undernourishment
    Malnutrition is inadequate diet which may be undernutrition,overnutrition or improper balance of various constituents.

    Whereas undernourishment is a situation which mainly results from lack of available resources, undernourishment is a problem mainly prevalent in developing countries ,malnutrition can even in resource rich countries

    though india achieved self sufficiency in food grains during 1970s but even now more than 40% of our children are undernourished. there are many reasons responsible:

    a)improper government policies: government is not able to coordinate between its procuremement and distribution policies. recent critism by supreme court holds significance in which court said on the issue of wastage of food grains due to lack of proper storage that if instead of wasting food grains it can provide it to the needy, but government is not able to tackle this situation.
    although various policies like pds, antyodaya anna yojana ,mid-day meal have been started but they have not produced the desired results due to ineffective implementation. recent incidents like death of 23 children of bihar due to insecticide in mid day meal are a cause of concern and needs expedious solution

    b)maternal health: providing food is not enough for solving undernourishment ,if the health of child is not good since he is born it would be difficult to solve the problem of undernourishment,to solve this the health of mother should be good and proper diet should be ensured for her.
    janani sishu suraksha karyakaram is an important step in this direction

    c) lack of micronutrients in food : extreme poverty is the main cause of this.zinc, iron, calcium are the micronutrients which are essential for good health but they missing in the diet.
    lack of diversification is also a reason for this ,government annouces support prices for rice and wheat ,this has lead to lack of cereal ,oilseeds and coarse grain production
    initiative to promote crop diversification has been taken in this budget

    d)lack of awareness about proper diet: due to illiteracy and ignorance people are unaware about proper diet and ways to address it. thus campaign has to be launched through various media to address this
    step to involve star like aamir khan is a good step.

    thus what is required is coordinated effort by different government departments to solve this serious problem of thge country.

  17. lakshmi prasanna
    1 Vote

    2.Malnutrition is not a disease it is due to inadequate diet. We are facing this despite of many welfare schemes. Causes for malnutrition in India can be well understood on knowledging about Attappady tragedy. Attapady is an area in Kerala where within two months 19 infant deaths and 52 children deaths due to malnutrition were recorded. People there eat what they can afford to buy. Current diet of women includes rice gruel and rice and tamarind water. Women were malnourished. Health department officials say that a woman should weigh at least 48 kg before she can bear a child. But most women here weigh just 35 to 38 kg. women with such condition bearing a child is highly risk. Majority of infants died were pre-term babies with low weight. This is in spite of having health facilities. Last year 1200 pregnant women were registered in this area last year, only 25 had institutional deliveries; reason is drastic cut of facilities.
    Families use to have land in the past to meet their malnutrition. They lose it on the grounds of land grab methods which are important reason for low nutrition and increased dependence on PDS. On cutting subsidies worsened the situation.
    A PIL filed recently in the Kerala High Court reveals the status of anganwadies. Food supply to it was privatized resulted corruption. Rotten food was supplied to children in 172 anganwadis.
    If this can happen in Kerala, what of those States where governments equally committed to neo-liberal policies do not even have a proper monitoring system?
    Tribal communities want their land back, they want livelihood not charity. Past one year they got 63 days of an average under MGNREGS, delayed wage payments and denied minimum wage. Clearly government has to change their policies, which could have prevented this tragedy. At least now government has to learn lessons from past experiences

    • ecebloggers
      1 Vote

      although you made very pertinent points, but i think your answer focused too much on Kerala and Tribals while questions asks for India in general. though in the end you tried to give a general context to it, but a better way would have been to restrict the example to a single para and then elaborate on broad issues that india as a whole faces

      • lakshmi prasanna
        Rate This Response!

        hi,
        intention is to show that if so called l iterated state condition is this one can anticipate the failure of policies in each step all over India.more over i felt that it works like a case study.
        thank u

  18. simran
    1 Vote

    Malnutrition is the condition that results from eating diet in which certain nutrion are lacking in excess or wrong proportiin .
    In medicinal term it is condition caused by an improper diet. It is technically a category of diseases that includes undernutrition , obesity and micrenutrition deficiency amongs other.
    However its frequently used to mean undernutrion from either inadequate calories or inadequate specify dietary components for whatever reason.
    In India stunted wasted anf underweighted childern are more as compared to the develooed countries. As we know that tese type of problem are natural or common in developing countries, and its inc day by day bcz many factors affected it like maternal health, improper security of govt, adulteration in food grains, lack of awareness, improper govt policies,and the main and major factor which directly and indirectly affected our country in each and manner i.e. corruption.
    Although these are several diff working defination of food security , all time involve in FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANISATION of UNITED NATION currently used following description i.e, food security exists when all people at all times have physical, social and economy acess to sufficent safe and nutrition food which meets their dietry needs and food preference for active and healty life. Simillary US also adopted same definatiin i.e USDA of food security access by all people at all time to enough food for an active , healty life. And food insecurity defined by USDA as a household level economics and social cond of limited or uncertain access to adequtae food.
    Acc to UNICEF 48% 8f indian child are stunted. This shows the faulty public health policy.
    FACTORS AFFECTING MALNUTRION:-
    i… maternal health: as we know that brain of child started build up in 5 or 6 week of pregnacy so its imp that food taken by mother is 1/4 more than normal routein of the diet . If mother doesnt take proper food its leads to the deficency in the growth of child. !aternql health is very improtant factor which affecting the the health of both maternal as well as child.
    ii… improper security of govt : as we know in rular area where people doesnt have such amt to admit pregnant women in the hospital bcz they are not able to submit the fees of hospital . Due to there this unability they dont admit there women in private hospitals and in govt hospitals doctor doesnt know any thing or some times they are not avilable too bcz govt doesnt give them proper salay .its not a casr of urban area its the case of rular areas hospital. The most imp thing we always notice that govt hospitals are mainly in urban areas why dat so urban people also go for private hospitals but a rular one doesnt go for private hospitals.
    iii… adulteration in food grains : govt takes godd quantity of grains from farmers but when they gives quota for people below than poverty line food grains provide from govt side was so much adulterated .
    In uttrakhand distaster which held there before one an half month its vanish each and every things, at that time food grain provide by people was adulterated in large amt. Why now ministers said the rate of rice and wheat are getting below for people below than poverty line onpy bcz election comes thats why
    Why they dont think on it before ection why they dont think when we elected them why .nd why every times we remind them doing aldulteration in food , life and future of all indians .
    iv,… lack of awareness about proper diet: malnutrion also done bcz of lack of awareness in people its not getting removed by showing some advertise on tv bcz in rular areas people doesnt have a proper money to complete there other needs so from where they get tv if get so too there is not electricty in rular areas.
    There are still may points which are the reson for malnutrion i.e. improper gov policies , lack of nutrion in food corruption but ponting these point is not the result of solving problems ,. As human tehre is still lots of diff in us and people who are poor but still what ever is going on still goes no one can improve it someone had to take a step to improve it. I know its not too easy as i said but still if think if think forever its time to take step toward those people are like us nd they need us…

    • lakshmi prasanna
      Rate This Response!

      good attempt, but can be better. express sentences with limited words to check word limit.

  19. Anjali Motghare
    2 Votes

    Balkanization was feared due to India- Pakistan partition on communal lines and turning them into hostile neighbours.But sustained efforts of Shri Sardar Patel brought positive results and belied the myth. During
    the national movement of independence itself national leadership felt that independent India should be reorganised on linguistic basis.
    Language is closely related to culture and therefore to the customs of people. Democracy can become real to the common people only when politics and administration are conducted through the local language. This will be possible only when state is formed on such predominant language.
    After Independence immediate though was to consolidate India so national leadership gave the reorganization of states second thought.Issue got prominence with the fast unto death and after passing away of Sri Patti Sriaramalu. Government immediately created the state of Andhra on lingustic basis.
    Success of the Andhra struggle encouraged other lingustic groups. Government appointed State Reorganisation Commission, which gave priority to administration and economic factor but recognized
    lingustic principle.
    State reorganization Act passed by Parliament and 14 states came into being. Maharashtra opposed strongle and finally Bombay state got split into Maharashtra and Gujarat. Then Punjab divide to form Haryana.
    After three decades again reorganization issue came to the fore but on different issues. Hilly region people of UP wanted of their own state. Tribal people of Bihar wanted Zarkhand and Those who championing the cause of workers wanted Chattisgarh. Each of movements supported by regional parties to fulfill their own inspirations too.
    Demand for Telangana, Vidarbha, Gorkhaland, Bundelkhand are on developmental issue, as we observe these areas remain underrepresented in terms of ministers in legislature, government jobs and in administration.
    These regions have no industry, less urbanization and their resources utilized for other parts of states at their cost. Now development is the main basis for the people to demand a new state.

  20. ecebloggers
    Rate This Response!

    thanks

  21. cppcontrol
    1 Vote

    What is malnutrition and undernourishment? Why is India according to some reports, in spite of surplus food grain production, home to a large number of stunted, wasted and underweight children in the world? Explain.

    Malnutrition is the condition that results from the intake of an unbalanced diet or a diet in which proper proportional ingredients are not present. Undernourishment is basically the state of a person or child where adequate amount of food is not consumed leading to lack of essential nutrients in the body.

    India has not been able to completely eradicate the problem of malnutrition. Poverty being the main reason behind this. Adequate quality and intake of food is not been consumed by many infants and mothers as well as pregnant women. Low income households are not being able to consume the right quality of food.

    However, the government has been trying to provide the necessary supply. Various schemes are being implemented to include pregnant women, infants and lactating mothers to have the required nourishment. But it has yet to get the desired results. Main problems in implementing the schemes include the leaky PDS system wherein the intended household are not targeted. Lack of proper nutritional content of the foodgrains, high prices of various commodities in the market, lack of information on the part of the rural households to provide mother’s milk to infants during the first six months which provide immunity to various diseases, proper health care of the infant and care to be taken during pregnancy are some of the issues that needs to be addressed.

    The country needs to invest more in building institutions which will provide for better facilities in this regard. The PRI’s will play an important role in implementing the schemes of the government. Proper diet and nutritional monitoring of pregnant women as well as infants after birth will be helpful. Moreover improving the overall economic condition of the rural people would enable them to have proper choice of food.

  22. ecebloggers
    1 Vote

    question 2

    Malnutrition and undernourishment are two major challenges that India is facing on health front. 42% of India’s children are malnourished. Malnutrition is seen when a child doesn’t consume a balanced diet leading to deficiency in one or more proteins. Undernourishment occurs when there is a lack of access to adequate food resulting in starvation
    Neglect of public health and lack of adequate investment in health and nutrition is a major cuase for current situation. India spends less than 2% GDP on health. Little attention has been paid towards providing nutritional support to children. It was only in 1990s that the state began providing nutritional support to children in form of mid day meals.
    Another major cause for malnutrition is the unidimensional agriculture policy followed by Indian government. In an effort to address food shortage in 1960s, government emphasised on growth of wheat and rice. This came at cost of decline in cultivation of endemic nutritious crops in different regions. This reduced options of food items for consumption leading to imbalanced diet.
    Starvation is also prevalent in some regions of India. This is a result of leakages and corruption in PDS due to which less than half of the intended beneficiaries get their entitlements.
    There is also a high incidence of child marriages. This has adverse impact on health of women and children. This is because in case of early age pregnancies, there are higher chances of birth of malnourished child. Although several schemes like ICDS, IGMSY, JSSY have been launched to address these challenges, they have failed to address the challenges
    To tackle malnutrition following measures are needed

    1. Increase spending on health and strengthen primary healthcare centers
    2. Expand food basket under PDS to include nutritious food items
    3. Streamline PDS implementation with technology interventions like GPS, biometrics etc
    4. Promote health of women
    5. Focus of ICDS should be more on first 2 years after birth of child since it is the most critical period when child is prone to malnutrition

  23. 1 Vote

    “In the post-independence India, the myth of Balkanization was belied by the peaceful reorganization of India into various linguistic states. Few decades later, development is taking precedence over language in deciding the dynamics of states’ reorganization”. Critically comment.

    Reorganization of states was one of the important decision after the independence of India. The states reorganization act of 1956 succeeded the seventh amendment of the Indian constitution. This reorganizational period was largely peaceful as was not expected by many. The result was the creation of a number of states with common linguistic background.

    Decades later the reorganization of states still occur but on the basis of development. With increase in economic activity in India there is a paradigm shift in the outlook of the masses. With increase in the overall literacy rate in the country, people are more aware of the problems being faced by the regions. Economic and developmental disparity among various regions within a state lead to forming of public opinion for change in the dynamics of the state.

    However, the idea of reorganization of a state on the basis of development is still in the nascent stage. Because, formation of states like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand has not yielded in overall improvement of the problems being faced by the masses. Issues like bad governance, corruption , despotism, lack of farsightedness are few reasons for this. Lack in overall improvement of facilities like healthcare, education, infrastructure in this newly created states create a doubt in the minds of many regarding the reorganization of states on the basis of development.

    There should be a conscious effort on the part of the political and bureaucratic establishments to provide for better institutional buildings in this newly framed states. Good governance should be the basis for development of these states. Until the poor is being provided with the basic need of food, clothing and shelter, the creation of states on the basis of development would be a myth.

  24. Biman Ghosh
    1 Vote

    1) What is malnutrition and undernourishment? Why is India according to some reports, in spite of surplus food grain production, home to a large number of stunted, wasted and underweight children in the world? Explain. (300 Words)

    When a person fails to take the basic and necessary nutritional elements as a part of food,the body starts to dysfunction and becomes vulnerable to the major life snatching diseases.It affects considerably the nourishment of body and invite dangerous diseases to occupy it.Underweight,poor resistance power,sluggish brain and stagnant body growth are some of evil outcomes of “malnutrition”.
    though.at all age stages,a human body needs nutritional elements to nourish it yet as children’s bodies are in growing stage,they need greater nourishment and higher nutritional foods and therefor the “malnutrition” or “undernourishment” generally refers to the deprivation of these children to basic nutritional foods and proper nourishment.

    According to Planning commission,since 2004-05 onward,our agricultural productivity has been surplus and even we have exported a part of it.despite the surplus agricultural production,In our country “malnutrition” occurs in worse form.our children not only deprived the basic nutrition food but most of them fail to take enough meal,they remains stunt all day long.our notorious infant mortality rate is also a outcome of malnutrition.The chief reason behind it is the lackness of proper policy formation and more importantly,their careful implementation across the country.

    The govt has some plans though.like ICDS,mid-day mil,etc but their implementation suffers.the lackness of accountability further makes them less effective.There have been evident for that the million of tonnes of food grains are still in goodowns being completely wasted due to lacking of executing and monitoring tools.In rural areas,the lackness of infrastructures,like roads,proper storage capacities,effective transport facility,etc. also deemed as a major barrier of such schemes.

    The govt. policies seems also based on “less targeting approach”.
    The downtrodden children from most vulnerable societies form the biggest pie of such “Undernourished people”.despite,its being one of the UN’s MDGs,we see govt has hardly any policy to include them in it’s major malnutrition alleviation programme. They remain out of radius of such programmes by begging or labouring here and there.
    the NGOs are making effort to bring them in such radius of benefits.

    The Diary products,which also could be very useful to keep malnutrition at arm’s lenth also have not access to poor people.dispite being no.1 in dairy production our govt. fails terribly to use dairy products in malnutrition alleviation programs.

    in order to alleviate malnutrition,we have to form policies for inclusiveness,build infrastructures in rural areas a device proper mechanisms to implement them.

  25. NB
    1 Vote

    What is malnutrition and undernourishment? Why is India according to some reports, in spite of surplus food grain production, home to a large number of stunted, wasted and underweight children in the world? Explain

    Malnutrition is phenomena where there is mismatch in intake of nutrients which are required for healthy growth of an individual. This mismatch can be both due to high intake or less intake. An undernourish child has less intake of required nutrients. An undernourish child is at severe health risk physically, mentally and emotionally.

    India has one of the world largest malnourished children. According to world bank report. 47 % of children are malnourished. One in three malnourished child stays in India. This is alarming situation when India has surplus food grain production. However, there are many underlying determinants which results into stunted,wasted, underweight children as a result of malnourishment.

    In India Public distribution system has not worked well. In spite of surplus food grain it has not been able to reach to targeted beneficiary. Further Immediate cause of nutritional disorder is dietary intake and health status. Dietary intake depends on household food security and quality of care available to young children, pregnant and lactating mother.

    Household food security in turn depends on quantity and quality of food available and purchasing power of family. Poverty therefore leads to less household food security resulting into malnourishment. Even if India produces surplus food grain it fails to reach at required houshold. Further diversity of food available is also important for providing required nutrients.

    Further resources of health like availability of public health care service, clean drinking water and sanitation are major determinant for child’s health. Less intake of food lowers immunity resulting into health hazard and unavailabilty of proper health environment further attenuates the problem and vice-versa.

    Furthermore, it has been observed that education status of women is very important determinant of quality child care provided to young child. In India less education, especially to women, unawareness regarding feeding of child results in enhancing malnourishment. Further social status also determines malnourishment, for example since girl child has low status in society, she is at more risk of malnourishment.

    Hence, surplus production of food grain is one overarching factor but there are numerous underlying factor which results into malnourishment.
    Therefore any strategy to tackle malnutrition has to be multi -pronged which includes transfer of diversified food grain to beneficiary, intervention in quality of child care, taking care of lactating and pregnant mother, improving overall health care services including safe drinking water and proper sanitation and also gender sensitization.

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Child Malnutrition In India – Magnitude, Its Causes, Consequences and Remedies

Though quieter than famine, persistent undernutrition kills many more people slowly in the long run than famine do”   (Dre’ze and Sen 1998)

India’s much coveted ‘demographic dividend‘ might be  in jeopardy. It is estimated that by 2030, there  will be 484.86 million youth (aged between 15 to 34) in India. Much has been said about its potential for the Indian economy to reap rich harvest in  the coming days.

But, the question is – what percentage of that population is healthy? fit enough to work in a challenging, highly competitive world?

image- BBC

MAGNITUDE OF MALNUTRITION

National Family Health Survey – III (NFHS-III)  (2005-06) revealed shocking data regarding the health status of India children – long before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, called malnutrition as matter of national shame.

According to NFHS-III, which is conducted by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India has 48% stunted, 20% wasted, and 43% underweight children below 5 years (45%, 23% and 40% respectively for children below 3 years). Stunted indicates chronic malnutrition; wasted – acute malnutrition and underweight indicates a composite index of chronic and acute malnutrition.

According to UNICEF:

  • Stunting, or low height for age, is caused by long-term insufficient nutrient intake and frequent infections. Stunting generally occurs before age two, and effects are largely irreversible. These include delayed motor development, impaired cognitive function and poor school performance. Nearly one third of children under five in the developing world are stunted.
  • Wasting, or low weight for height, is a strong predictor of mortality among children under five. It is usually the result of acute significant food shortage and/or disease. There are 24 developing countries with wasting rates of 10 per cent or more, indicating a serious problem urgently requiring a response.
  • Since 1990, underweightprevalence has declined from 32 per cent to 27 per cent in the developing world. The East Asia/Pacific and CEE/CIS regions have made the greatest progress in reducing underweight prevalence, and 58 countries are on track to reach the MDG target. Yet, 143 million under-fives in the developing world continue to suffer from malnutrition, more than half of them in South Asia. Most countries failing to make sufficient progress are in sub-Saharan Africa.
Recent report by Naandi foundation, named HUNgMA report which focused its detailed study on 100 ‘focus districts’  revealed that, 42% children are underweight and 59% are stunted who are under five (2010). During release function of this report that PM termed malnutrition as national shame.

India compared – source:Economist

CAUSES

The causes for malnutrition are various and are multidimensional. To sum up, they include:

- Household food insecurity

- illiteracy specially in women

- Poor access to health services

-Lack of availability of safe drinking water

- Poor sanitation and environmental conditions and low purchasing power etc.

- Early marriages of girls

- Teenage pregnancies resulting in low birth weight of the newborns

- Poor breastfeeding practices

-Poor complementary feeding practices

- Ignorance about nutritional needs of infants and young children and  repeated infections further aggravate the situation.

- Number of other factors such as environmental, geographical, agricultural, and cultural including various other factors have contributive effects resulting in malnutrition.

Therefore it is widely recognized that a multi sectoral approach is necessary to tackle the problem of malnutrition.

CONSEQUENCES OF MALNUTRITION

Undernourished children have significantly lower chances of survival than children who are well-nourished. They are much more prone to serious infections and to die from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea, measles, malaria, pneumonia, and HIV and AIDS. The risk of dying increases with the severity of the under-nutrition. For instance, a child suffering from severe acute malnutrition is nine times more likely to die than children who are not undernourished.

Nutrition is important to ensure proper brain formation and development, which starts in the womb: development of the brain goes on during early childhood. Evidence suggests that children who are stunted often enrol late in school, complete fewer grades and perform less well in school. This, in turn, affects their creativity and productivity in later life. Iodine deficiency is known to affect a child’s Intelligence Quotient (IQ) adversely. It has also been established that children with deficient growth before age two are at an increased risk of chronic disease as adults, especially if they gain weight rapidly in the later stages of childhood. A low birth weight baby, who is stunted and underweight in its infancy and gains weight rapidly in childhood and adult life, is much more prone to chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. (FRONTLINE)

RECOMMENDATIONS OF PLANNING COMMISSION

A Task Force was constituted by the Planning Commission in December 2007 to study the Problems of Childhood Malnutrition.

The recommendations of the Task Force include:

  • regular annual survey under ICDS on malnutrition rates ;
  • Village Health and Sanitation Committee to monitor nutrition programmes through the Village Health and Nutrition Days ;
  • introduction of BMI as another index for assessing nutritional status at the Anganwadi level ;
  • effective antenatal care and conditional maternity entitlements to reduce incidence of low birth weight babies ;
  • focus on health and nutrition of adolescent girls ;
  • promoting appropriate infant and young child feeding practices and timely immunisation;
  • child specific growth monitoring cards ;
  • special focus on severely malnourished children ;
  • hot cooked meals and community participation under ICDS;
  • capacity building of the Anganwadi workers ;
  • convergence with other programmes etc.

GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION

Good nourishment is the right of every child, and the state must ensure proper nutrition for all children. In this regard government has taken number of steps, but in spite of these measure, malnourishment is highly prevalent. This is mainly because of failure in delivering services, and loopholes in some of the schemes.

Direct interventions schemes include:

  • Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme,
  • National Rural Health Mission (NRHM),
  • Mid-Day Meal Scheme,
  • Rajiv Gandhi Schemes for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG) namely SABLA and
  •  Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojna (IGMSY)

SIMPLE MEASURES WITHOUT INCURRING COST

There is overwhelming evidence to suggest that tackling child under-nutrition requires a life-cycle approach, which implies that different interventions are needed at different stages in the life of a woman (during adolescence and pre-pregnancy as well as during pregnancy and after the birth of the child) and of a child (immediately at birth, up to six months, 6-23 months and 24-59 months). Listed below are such five critical technical interventions.

1. Improve breastfeeding practices in the first six months of life by ensuring that:

• All newborns start breastfeeding within one hour after birth (early initiation);

• All newborns are fed the nutrient-rich colostrum in the first three-to-four days of life (colostrum feeding); and

• All infants are fed only breast milk in the first six months of life (exclusive breastfeeding) and are not fed any other solid or liquid, not even water.

2. Improve foods and feeding practices for children 6-23 months old by ensuring that:

• Infants are fed complementary foods beginning at about six months of age while breastfeeding continues until two years and beyond;

• Complementary foods are rich in energy, protein, and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).

3. Control micronutrient deficiencies and anaemia in the first years of life by ensuring that:

• All children 6-59 months old are provided with vitamin A supplements twice a year (about six months apart);

• All children 12-59 months old are provided with deworming tablets twice a year (about six months apart); and

• All children with diarrhoea receive appropriate treatment with zinc supplements and oral rehydration solution (ORS).

4. Control micronutrient deficiencies and anaemia in adolescent girls and women by ensuring that:

• Anaemia is prevented in adolescent girls and pregnant women through supplementation programmes with iron and folic acid and deworming tablets;

• Iodine deficiency is prevented in adolescent girls and women by ensuring that all salt for direct human consumption contains adequate levels of iodine.

5. Provide quality care for children with severe under-nutrition by ensuring that:

• Cases of severe acute under-nutrition are managed at home with simplified protocols and also clinically (wherever required) under appropriate medical supervision.

In terms of immediate actions that can yield quick results, four priorities for the child would be the initiation of breastfeeding within one hour after birth, exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life, introduction of appropriate complementary foods after six months, and bi-annual vitamin A supplementation with deworming for children under five. (SOURCE: Frontline)

To realize the potential of demographic dividend, India must ensure that its children grow healthily. Economic growth of 9% can not guarantee good health to the citizens if the state do not take pains to redistribute wealth properly to make India a safer place for its children to grow with dignity.

 

BOOKS REFERRED:

1) The Concise Oxford Companion To Economics In India

2) India 2012-Publication Division

3)Economic Survey (2011-12)

Apart from these, I have liberally taken paragraphs from Frontline magazine and PIB website and credits are duly acknowledged with links to the sources. 

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