In spite of being one of the fastest growing economies in the world, India is ranked 103th on the list of 119 countries of the Global Hunger Index 2018. Being at this place is a matter of great seriousness for India. Recently, the capital of India, Delhi, due to long term malnutrition and hunger, surprisingly three children died.
Is not it ironic that such an event took place where per capita income is quite high. In India, the horrific situation of malnutrition is pathetic on the global front and it is also unequally different in all the states.
Status of India
- According to the National Family Health Survey-2016, the proportion of children (38.4%) of children in the age of five years (the length of the length of the proportion of age) has also been much higher than the international level (22.9%) There is more.
- Lack of weight in the proportion of age is also a major problem for India. In India, under the age of five years, there are approximately 53.3 million males, 49.6 million underweight and 29.2 million weak (low weight in proportion to length) children.
- Increasing prosperity hardly has a meaningful effect on the long term problem of malnutrition. There are many benefits of fast economic growth, but such progress will not be adequate and affordable if millions of children are victims of terrible malnutrition.
- This malnutrition does not only bring disease to the children’s infancy, but also affects the long term. As the children grow up, education, labor and productivity along with India’s economic growth will also be affected. But a big question is where is the solution?
- The first problem is linked to the thought of development based on economic growth. There is no doubt that the Empowered Group of Groups (EAG) faces the most problems related to malnutrition. But two EAG states, Chhattisgarh and Odisha have done better in this field than Maharashtra and Gujarat (whose per capita income is almost double).
Strong Working Group (EAG) State
Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttaranchal and Uttar Pradesh are called the Empowered Working Group (EAG) State.
- The path of development prevailing in Gujarat has been more inclined towards economic growth and investment rather than fighting malnutrition. On the other hand, despite Odisha being a low income state, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) has succeeded in establishing a better network of education between the public health facility / every lakh population workforce and women. Thanks to Gujarat, Odisha is fighting effectively with malnutrition.
- Apart from this, children of tribal, rural, poor and uneducated women are far from nutrition in the so-called developed states like Haryana, Gujarat and Punjab. Two-thirds of children with low weight and stature are from 200 districts of both the developing and developed states.
Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS)
- This scheme was started in year 1975 as an initiative for the overall development (health, nutrition and education) of children below the age of 6 years.
- Its aim is to reduce infant mortality rate, child malnutrition and to provide necessary education before admission in school.
- The overall responsibility of monitoring the ICDS scheme is to the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD).
Agricultural vs. hunger
- The second major consideration is that agriculture and nutrition should be associated with each other, as the solution of all the problems related to nutrition represents agriculture. However, according to the estimates, the horrific problem of malnutrition (34% of dwarf height and 29.5% of children with less weight) in agricultural surplus states such as Haryana also remains.
- The point of concern is that in some districts of Haryana which are rich and developed in agriculture, the problem of malnutrition is more than the average of Odisha.
- Recently, Madhya Pradesh has recorded a huge amount of wheat production, but still the problem of acute malnutrition (41.9% of the dwarf height and 42.8% of the children with low weight) remains still in most of these zones.
- To understand the contradiction of abundant agricultural production and malnutrition, consider various food items. Due to the diversity of food intake (based on the 19 food items listed in the Food Seven Index), malnutrition (dwarf height / low weight) begins to decline.
- If diversity is included in food items, only 12 percent children will be suffering from malnutrition, whereas malnutrition problems in children consuming less than 3 types of food can reach 50 percent.
What is malnutrition?
- Malnutrition is a state in which the body does not get complete nutrition due to taking nutritious substances and food disorderly. Malnutrition also occurs when a person’s diet does not have the right amount of nutrients.
- Actually, we get energy and nutrients through food to stay healthy, but if the food does not get enough nutrients including protein, carbohydrate, fats, vitamins and minerals, then we may be victims of malnutrition.
Influence of malnutrition
- Due to malnutrition in children and women due to non-availability of balanced diet for a long time, disease resistance decreases due to which they easily fall prey to various types of diseases. Malnutrition is the root cause of most diseases of children and women.
There is no doubt that the lack of nutrients in the food is the main cause of malnutrition that indirectly connects with the thought of evolution in the case of ignorance of this matter and based on economic growth. This thinking can prove to be dangerous for a country like India. It is very important to solve this problem of malnutrition in children. It should be noted that the establishment of a Food and Nutrition Commission, the need to increase the level of nutrition across the country should also be addressed.
The time has come for the government to identify the root cause of this issue and find a permanent solution to deal with malnutrition. This is possible only when the state will focus on inclusive development by creating employment opportunities for people living on margins, which will be helpful in reducing malnutrition along with improving their purchasing power. To deal with malnutrition, the prices of food items should be regulated and for this, the public distribution system in both developed and poor states will be empowered.