16 Aug 2019
GS Paper 2
Malnutrition in India is a scar on India’s pursuit of becoming a superpower. Discuss the reasons and challenges associated with the high level of malnutrition in India?
- Give facts in introduction to show that malnutrition is prevalent in India.
- Discuss reasons and challenges associated with the high level of malnutrition in India.
- Give conclusion.
- The Global Hunger Index (GHI) ranked India at 103 among 119 countries in 2018, in view of the prevalent undernutrition situation.
- The World Bank (WB) has declared that with 40 percent of its workforce having experienced stunting as children.
- India has long been home to the largest number of malnourished children in the world. It is home to over 30.9% of all stunted children under five - the highest in the world.
Reasons for the high level of Malnutrition in India
- Extreme hunger and poverty leads to inadequate access to food.
- Less nutrients in staple foods-rice and wheat.
- Inadequate Infant and Child Feeding: In urban areas, less than 46% are fed breast milk only for the first few months after birth.
- Illiteracy and poor awareness: Due to illiteracy and lack of awareness of parents about balanced diet, malnutrition in children occur as they fail to get critical nutrients.
- Poor sanitation: Open defecation, lack of pure drinking water supply, etc. are one of the major causes of malnutrition in children.
- Social taboos: regarding women and girls keeps them out of financial and economic independence which results in their poor nutrition.
- Intergenerational Transmission of Malnutrition: Mothers who are hungry and malnourished produce children who are stunted, underweight and unlikely to develop to achieve their full human potential.
Challenges to address high malnutrition
- Inter-state variability: the states with higher malnutrition are the poorer ones and so the lack of budget is a major concern.
- Lack of Effective Coordination among different authorities at multiple levels.
- Inadequate training to anganwadi workers, who are the first ones to estimate malnutrition.
- Lack of Awareness among people about the adverse effects of sanitation and hygiene on health status is a major hurdle.
- More problems in rural areas and urban slums because of poverty, illiteracy, lack of hygiene, poor presence of government services, sanitation, etc.
- Effective implementation of Poshan Abhiyan (National Nutritional Mission) that aims to reduce the level of stunting, under-nutrition, anemia and low birth weight babies.
- Enhanced focus on social welfare programmes with increased budget.
- Improve access to public healthcare for poorer communities.
- Strengthen MGNREGA to ensure better food security
- Providing Bio-fortified foods to poor through PDS to raise their nutritional intake.
- Effective implementation of schemes on sanitation such as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and ensuring clean drinking water supply to each household.
- Strengthening schemes for Women and Adolescent Girls- SABLA, ICDS, JSY, etc.
- Multidimensional efforts from all stakeholders- government, civil society, NGOs (such as Save the Children Foundation), academicians, etc.- is required in a comprehensive manner to fight the menace of malnutrition in India.