Undernutrition in India remains startlingly high despite noticeable reduction in stunting in last decade.
Risk population: adolescent girls, women and children. And among them, Scheduled Castes and Tribes are the worst off.
Reflects: deceptive economic and sociocultural deprivation prevalent in India.
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report–
50% of women in India are married before they turn 18, which is in violation of the law.
30% children born are low weight because- poor nutritional status of adolescent girls, combined with child marriage and multiple pregnancies even before becoming an adult
Result: Approx. 7 million, potentially wasted and stunted, added to Indian population every year!
Focus be on–
Health, nutrition and social status of children.
Of total population, adolescent girls and women should be a priority for India to be healthy and break the inter-generational cycle of malnutrition
among nearly 70 per cent of school-going children
Protein energy malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies like iron deficiency anaemia exists
It challenges the capacity for physical growth and cognitive development.
However, steady build-up of momentum around nutrition in past decade is noticeable with the setting up of
SUN (Scaling Up Nutrition) secretariat in the UN
World Health Assembly adoption (in 2012) of the 2025 global targets for maternal, infant and young children’s nutrition
2015 Sustainable Development Goals which focus the ending of all forms of malnutrition for all people by 2030
In 2005, Maharashtra was the first State to launch a nutrition mission
Other 5 states followed- Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Gujarat and Karnataka
Population covered– 300 million
Focus of all states: inter-sectoral coordination to improve child nutrition in the first 1000 days.
Nutrition schemes in India
Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) in 1975
national coverage of the Mid-Day Meal Scheme (MDMS) in 1995
The problem and solution framework are correctly identified. What lacks is targets or financial commitments or concrete and specific programmes and processes to accomplish this goal.
Systemic development is a long process to convert intent into action. It requires
excellence in execution
A measurement of process, output and outcome/impact metrics
Currently, there exists no structure for multi-sectoral coordination which is essential to address the inter-generational and multifaceted nature of malnutrition.
Poor nutrition = Poor economics
There is an urgency to address underlying causes of malnutrition in India as
Economics is related to nutrition
World Bank: India loses 2-3 of its annual GDP due to lower productivity (malnutrition being the underlying cause)
Economic Survey 2015-16: “Some of the highest economic returns to public investment in human capital in India lie in maternal and early-life health and nutrition interventions”
Copenhagen Consensus: Identified several nutrition interventions as some of the most high-yielding of all possible development assessments
Dream of India as global player in manufacturing is dependent on nutrition
One out of every three children is born underweight
Low level of productivity due to inability to realise full potential for physical growth and cognitive development
Thus, India’s population dividend is turning out to be liability.
Humanity is related to nutrition
Art 47 of Constitution of India
“Duty of the state to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health.
The state shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health as among its primary duties.”
Programmes like Swachh Bharat, ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’, etc. are important nutrition-sensitive factors that address hygiene, sanitation and education.
India already has the infrastructure and mechanism for reaching people most at risk in the nutrition-specific areas. Need is to revamp it and make more effective.
Three priority structures
For pregnant and nursing mothers and children under the age of six
The intent to revamp the ICDS has been recently announced
Streamline the work in the 1.34 million anganwadi centres by investing in training the 2.5 million workers and helpers at these centres
Standardise the nutrition component of the supplementary food offered
Focus on the overall dissemination of information and education to pregnant and nursing mothers on healthy eating habits, hygiene and sanitation, etc.
CARE India has recently created a “job aid” which is a piloted mobile application that helps anganwadi workers plan, schedule and better coordinate their work.
Directly feeds approximately 120 million schoolchildren every day
A large number of children suffer from both insufficient calories and inadequate micronutrients.
Single-minded focus on nutrition in addition to food will make a critical difference.
Focus on children is targeted, continued and regular which makes impact of MDMS measurable over period of time.
Accomplished by: addition of micronutrients to cooked food or by adding universally liked and accepted products such as milk, biscuits, etc. fortified with micronutrients as a mid-morning or afternoon snack.
Global evidence: Large-scale food fortification is one of the best ways to address micronutrient deficiency. The standards of the cooked meal could be changed to using only fortified flour, fortified oil and iodised salt
Food fortification is the practice of adding essential vitamins and minerals (e.g. iron, vitamin A, folic acid, iodine) to staple foods to improve their nutritional content.
Makes available subsistence rations to above and below poverty line families.
These are excellent platforms for public-private partnerships to improve the level and quality of service. CSR intervention in these areas can be effective.
What to do next?
Immediate steps to be taken should include
Creating Nutrition Mission to arrange work both in nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive areas so that the impact from them can be embedded in productive outcomes
Creating a Nutrition Secretariat as part of the PMO. Responsibility will be to ensure multi-sectoral alignment on priorities, sequencing and timelines.
Making the nodal Ministries accountable for revamping the ICDS, MDM, PDS with clear goals, timelines and resources. Open it for PPP and CSR indulgence
Extening large-scale food fortification beyond salt to other staples like flour, oil, dairy, etc.
Simplifying nutrition in behavioural terms by investing in information dissemination and education about good nutrition practices, need of a diverse diet, importance of deworming, breastfeeding, hygiene and sanitation, etc.
Evidence from other countries has shown that countries which have adopted a multi-sectoral framework, the results are tangible and specific. India needs demographic dividend and not a demographic disaster.
Connecting the dots:
A country will truly prosper when its economic capital and human capital are at par. Critically examine.
Environment and Ecology, Bio diversity – Conservation, environmental degradation, environmental impact assessment, Environment versus Development
Effect of environmental policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.
Important International Environmental Institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate
Average Global Temperatures are rising rapidly: What India has to do?
Studies and estimates shows –
The first few months of 2016 were close to 5° Celsius higher than average global temperatures for at least 10,000 years prior to the 19th century.
Long-term average global temperatures are expected to cross the 1.5°C threshold (which Paris COP-21 set) in just about 10 to 15 years.
This period is considered to be much too soon for countries across the world which are still struggling to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapt to the impacts of rising temperatures.
We know that, at the Paris Conference of Parties (COP-21) last December, world leaders agreed to limit global warming to well below 2°C while still making an effort to keep the average rise to below 1.5°C.
However, many scientists and analysts actually consider staying within a long-term rise of 1.5°C to be an impossible goal unless some far-fetched method of sucking carbon out of the air or burying it forever becomes viable.
IPCC Assessment Report
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) publishes an integrated review of the science, impacts, mitigation and adaptation assessment.
Last such review report was published in 2014 and next round of review was expected to be in 2022.
However, considering the rapid rise in average global temperature, IPCC has decided to commission some special reviews now only — (an outcome of Nairobi meeting, April 2016).
These special reviews would examine the effect that 1.5°C would have on land use, ecosystems, oceans and glaciers.
The above concerns present a very bleak picture. Therefore, the article deals with – what India has done so far and what India has to do to come out of this bleak setting?
What India has done so far?
In 2007, the Indian government established the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change, out of which emerged the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).
The NAPCC also rolled out a fair number of programmes and strategies under its eight missions.
8 Core Missions are –
National Solar Mission
National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency
National Mission on Sustainable Habitat
National Water Mission
National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem
National Mission for a “Green India”
National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture
National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change
Each of the States then developed State-level climate action plans, which are currently being implemented. The State-level studies and plans have also in effect alerted the States to begin the task of incorporating climate change into their planning.
The NAPCC essentially announced to the world that India was willing to act on its global responsibility to limit GHG emissions.
This was despite the fact that the country has low per capita emissions (less than 2 tonnes per capita, which is lower than the world average) and has historically often taken the lead in calling for equity in international climate policy and the allocation of a fair carbon budget.
At COP-21, India proposed that it would reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP (GHG emissions per unit of GDP) by about a third compared with its 2005 levels, and has committed itself to depending on non-fossil fuel sources for 40 per cent of its generation capacity by 2030.
Adaptation was also mentioned in India’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) along with several details in different sectors.
What India has to do?
The Paris Agreement calls for comprehensive reviews, regular “global stocktaking” and ratcheting up of targets periodically.
We know that India will experience severe effects of global warming. The recent floods in Jammu and Kashmir and Tamil Nadu, and severe drought in many districts, are probably just an indication of the harsh implications for the future.
Given these pressures and commitments that have been made, India now needs to
Re-imagine and develop a new approach, or national strategy — a set of policies that lay out its action plans for reaching its targets, and not just for reducing emissions.
With the close monitoring that is expected of the announced NDC targets, there is a lot that India needs to be prepared with.
The country’s overall strategies would have to include a number of different aspects such as an integration of mitigation, adaptation and inclusive low-carbon development.
India has to have clarity on implementation, along with an understanding of which programmes would be undertaken by the Central government, which ones by the States, and how these would all add up to fulfilling our commitments.
Each State faces a distinctive set of challenges regarding the impact of warming, but also offers its own set of opportunities for reducing emissions depending on its natural resources.
For example, coastal States need to take action to protect their shores from sea level rise, districts that are drier need to prepare for variable monsoon precipitation, Himalayan regions have their own unique challenges, and selected parts of peninsular India and offshore areas offer great opportunities for harnessing wind power.
These various aspects need to be considered in fulfilling the Paris Agreement now, but also for developing clear and sustainable goals for the future.
Although ratification of the Paris Agreement is already being considered, the deliverables on adaptation are far from clear. In fact, there are no agreed-upon adaptation goalsat the global level.
It would therefore be interesting and useful for India to formulate adaptation strategies at State levels and demonstrate if and how these could be meaningful for the country as a whole.
The way ahead
Countries need to re-think in terms of targets well beyond 2030 for emissions and adaptation.
Fundamental decisions on growth and development need to go well beyond the goals for a high GDP and consider surviving extreme events, living in a warmer world, and inclusivity, especially with hundreds of millions who are poor, which is fundamental to countries like India.
The linkages among development trajectories, GHG emissions reduction targets and adaptation strategies perhaps need to be made more explicit by researchers and scientists, so that decision makers can understand the medium- and long-term implications of virtually all their choices.
With the challenges that India faces and the need to provide human services in a sustainable manner to its vast underserved population, the country requires social and economic transformation at a scale that has not been attempted before.
Connecting the dots:
Estimates and studies have shown that long-term average global temperatures are expected to cross the 1.5°C threshold set by Paris COP-21 set in just about 10 to 15 years. What strategies should India take to adapt to the impacts of rising temperatures.
Scientists and analysts actually consider staying within a long-term rise of 1.5°C, set by Paris COP-21, to be an impossible goal. Do you agree? In your opinion what strategies should India take to adapt to the impacts of rising temperatures both at domestic and international level.