Disturbing Facts about Malnutrition in India

Vihaan was really fond of dogs. He loved to play with them. A caring human at heart, the animal lover enjoyed feeding them biscuits and bread. Every night, he would also fill the bowl outside his home with milk for them. Before retiring to bed one night, he saw something unusual for him. Vihaan caught glimpse of a young girl slurping milk from the same bowl he had kept outside the house. It was not the sight of the undernourished girl but her condition that distressed Vihaan.

In numerous regions of India, not once but everyday, tales that shame humanity occur. Why should your caste or status decide how much food you should get? Or whether or not you should get food at all? These, perhaps, are questions most of us may have never thought about. The amazing taxation drives, Prime Minister’s Jan Dhan Yojana, FDI liberalization, enhancement of infrastructure and increasing broadband projects promise tremendous development in India. But why is malnutrition still a serious problem for the country? It is one of the most serious issues affecting India severely at the present moment. Under-nutrition, especially in case of children and women, can be a dent onto the growing prosperity of our nation. Affected by these, people fail to become productive members of the community and miss the opportunities that could have made a difference to various aspects of their life.

We are proud to present India as the substantial producer of milk, with a vast population of buffalo. Happily, it is also the second largest creator of fruits and vegetables. And yet, the population struggles with food scarcity. Did you know one in every three Indian children is low weight for age or stunted? Sadly, 21% of Indian children are low weight in proportion to their height. On an everyday basis, 3000 children die every day due to poor or insufficient diet. Of all, very few of the Indian children have been breastfed for the first 6 months. Fewer than half of these receive nursing during their first 24 hours. Lack of healthy food, improper care and poor feeding practices, inadequacy of water, unhealthy defecation and sanitation still deprive these segments of population from a better life, a life with access to basic needs.

Vihaan is one among many who are upset with the hunger problems in India. Clearly, the health profile of Indian children in 2018 should not go unnoticed by us as well. Childhood is the time when their bones are developing. Nourishing them from an early life stage is, therefore, vital. While we fight childhood stunting, anaemia in women is another evil we need to eliminate.

Quite shockingly, more than 50% women of reproductive age are victims of anaemia. These could be the most challenging risk factors for reduced growth of India. As census has to depict, 17% of the world’s population is Indian. The depressing health of women and children of our country is a result of food scarcity. Food security will surface when every soul in India will have access to hygienic and nutritious food.

Quite shockingly, more than 50% young women are victims of anaemia. 27.1% of girls among them are even more severely affected by the disease. These could be the most challenging risk factors for reduced growth of India, in terms of productivity and economic development. As census has to depict, 17% of the world’s population is Indian. The depressing health of women and children of our country is a result of food scarcity. Food security will surface when every soul in India will have access to hygienic and nutritious food.

Have you ever wondered why women are at a higher risk of being undernourished than men? The problem is not limited to only undernutrition but gender issues as well. In a big number of families, as is customary, women eat after the family has finished the meal. But what about women of households that have food in really less quantities? Every family member has already finished considerable portions of food. These women have no option but to do with little or no food.

Men first, children next and themselves last, this is the ideology that prevails many regions of India even today. Finding the root cause of the problem may be a task too daunting. This is so because from the statistics seen above, it can be found that the poor are most likely to be the victims as they cannot easily afford two square meals a day. Amongst a huge number of inequalities between the rich and the poor, accessibility of food is at the top. Here we see unequal distribution of resources fostering the increase in food scarcity.

Government of India understands well how strength can be restored in the country. Under the purview of the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD), the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) was a spectacular scheme. The government program was initiated in 1975 to enhance the health of mother and children under the age of 6 with supplementary food, health related services and preschool education. The National Rural Health Mission, which began in 2013, addressed the health needs of people inhabiting the rural areas. National Mid-day Meal Scheme has been quite impressive in its approach. It has been one of the best ways government has ensured that maximum number of children are attending school. Who could have thought combining education with food could have benefitted the nation on the whole?

We can see that the government is coming up with programs and strategies. The generous impact of these have encouraged many non-governmental organizations. Amongst many, Ekta Shakti Foundation is one such organization that has been supporting the state with its crucial contributions. Its big efforts to ensure hygienic food to children and women empowerment are worth appreciating. The nation hopes to see many more helping hands to curb issues and challenges the country is facing at present. As you would know, the path to a healthier and happy nation is fraught with difficulties. We dream that with these problems erased, India will emerge as one of the most successful countries one day.