IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 11th January 2017
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
India Africa Relationship – Kenya Focus
India has worked hard on maintaining a cordial relationship with Africa and its nations. Both the previous and the present government have done sufficiently well in this regard. The present government boasts of holding the India-Africa Forum Summit in 2015 and political outreach to Africa through visits by the President, Vice-President and Prime Minister to numerous countries in 2016.
Kenya is one of India’s most important African partners and is currently a participant at the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit. The leader of Kenya reciprocating a visit by the Indian counterparts sends out positive signals and creates a lot of hope as well.
India and the East Africa
The East African Community (EAC) comprises of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan. It has emerged as a very efficient Regional Economic Community with China as the major source of investment. It is now building a single market and wants to set up a monetary union.
- Indian government and corporates need a well drafted trade and industrial cooperation strategy to upgrade existing links with the EAC.
- India has to balance its relationship with nations such as Tanzania and Kenya who are traditional rivals. Kenya has now established closer ties with Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi as “the coalition of the willing”.
- India enjoys friendly and cooperative relations with all EAC members. It should make the best of this cordial relationship and ensure it can get maximum benefits from this opportunity.
Potential of India Kenya Partnership
- India and Kenya may give a push to deepening bilateral ties with focus on strengthening economic cooperation and bilateral trade. Indian companies should try to be active in this competitive market.
- Kenya has been an important destination for Indian investments. More viable sectors such as energy, pharmaceuticals, textiles, agriculture and financial services provide a higher potential.
- Major Indian corporates such as Tatas, Reliance, Essar, Kirloskars and Dr. Reddy’s, are already flourishing in Kenya.
- Indian government must approve additional Line of Credit in strategic areas such as education and health to secure mutual interests.
India’s Future Policy
India and African nations such as Kenya have a common agenda of counterterrorism and peace in the respective backyards. With a lot of mutual admiration to guide the relationship India should consider incorporating the following in its policy towards African nations:
- With a lot uncertainty regarding the policy of USA, India should ensure that it gives adequate attention towards this region and play the role of a world leader.
- India needs to adopt a patient approach because issues such as UN reform, counterterrorism, climate change and international solar alliance will take long to show results.
- India must concentrate on actions that strengthen its economic cooperation with select African countries.
- India has to tackle competition among Asian nations for getting close to Kenya. Kenya has developed close relations with China under its Look East Policy.
- Japan and India could partner in key infrastructure development projects in Kenya and the surrounding regions with innovative models.
- The next summit with Africa has been scheduled to 2020 instead of 2018. This could hamper the progress of this relationship. Hence, India should consider ministerial review meetings in 2018 and build upon this relationship. Nairobi, with its excellent location and conference facilities, could be an ideal choice and Mr. Kenyatta a willing partner.
Connecting the dots
- India and African nations have a history of cordial relations. Discuss the potential of partnership between India and various African countries. Also throw light on the challenges that India could face in strengthening this partnership.
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Child nutrition- making India healthy
There is a public health crisis looming in India in form of widespread maternal and child undernutrition.
- One-third of Indian women (of reproductive age) are undernourished.
- Around 60 million children (under five years of age) are either stunted (low height-for-age) or wasted (low weight-for-height).
- Women and adolescent girls face the added burden of societal discrimination which is manifested through unequal access to food, healthcare and resources. As a result, about 42% of Indian women are underweight when they begin pregnancy—compared to about 15% in African countries.
What does it convey?
- With such poor ground level realities, it shows that India has been unable to address its long-pending issue of malnutrition and giving priority to early life-cycle investments.
- Despite knowing the universal fact that healthy child develops from a healthy womb, 50% of growth failure in first two years of child begins from the womb due to poor maternal nutrition.
- India needs a targeted intervention policy of the first 1,000 days of a child’s life (from conception to the two-year post-natal period) where the child and mother are given all the necessary nutrients in adequate amount.
- Undernutrition occurs when the body doesn’t get enough nutrients which can cause physical or mental disability. Lack of nutrition is not only a health risk but also and economic risk.
- Undernutrition is one of the leading causes of child mortality. Close to 70% of children between the age of six months and five years in India suffer from anaemia, which, if left untreated, increases susceptibility to illness, raising morbidity.
- Undernutrition also has adverse, irreversible consequences for a child’s cognitive and physical development.
- Adding to the challenges, there is wide spread disparities between states in mother and child’s nutritional status. Stunting under age 5: Uttar Pradesh has 50% whereas Kerala has 19%
- These disparities have been aggravated further with the budgetary realignments after the 14th Finance Commission. It has been observed that Central allocations to the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) declined almost 10%, from Rs. 15,502 crore in 2015-16 to Rs. 14,000 crore in 2016-17.
Solution to this
Policy makers can work upon few areas which can eliminate the existence of undernutrition in India:
Early life intervention
- The child’s development begins from mother’s womb. The government should rigorously carry out the regular pre-natal check up drive through ASHA or ANMs to ensure that they have balanced diet as well as go for institutional delivery.
- Post-natal care should be monitored where the first 1,000 days of a child’s life are crucial for reducing a child’s susceptibility to infections, and breaking the link between undernutrition, disease and mortality, should be targeted.
Direct and indirect interventions
- If there is direct nutrition intervention by government, the stunting can be reduced by 20%. Direct Nutrition Interventions are the set of proven nutrition specific interventions that have immediate and direct impact on nutrition status. It also targets the immediate causes of malnutrition.
- Here, nutrition interventions may include vitamin A and zinc supplementation, deworming for children, iron folic acid supplements for pregnant women etc.
- Indirect interventions such as access to water, sanitation and hygiene will attempt to tackle to remaining 80%.
- Schemes such as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan should be used to leverage policy complementarities with household sanitation and encourage behavioural change through social messaging and hold information-education-communication activities for pregnant and lactating mothers.
Right to nutrition
- There is a need for universal, rights-based nutrition services delivery which shall overcome disparities across gender, communities and geographical regions.
- For example, ICDS supplementary nutrition programme: Food reaches barely 20% of children in Uttar Pradesh, but over 90% of children in Odisha.
- This proves that policy is fine, the implementation inefficiency leads to lack of outreach.
- ICDS is a welfare programme which provides food, preschool education, and primary healthcare to children under 6 years of age and their mothers. These services are provided from Anganwadi centres established mainly in rural areas and staffed with frontline workers. However, the results have not matched expectations.
- Restructuring should be done to target and strengthen last-mile delivery. The reforms should include standardizing the nutritional component of supplementary food, prioritizing educational outreach, and investing in anganwadi centres and workers.
- Field studies have established links between provision of school meals and improved learning outcomes for children.
- Additionally, food fortification of staples (including wheat, flour, rice and edible oils) represents a cost-effective and scalable solution to enhance nutrient intake.
- Standards for food fortification should be established and guidelines changed to promote the use of fortified inputs in ICDS-provided hot cooked meals.
- PPP method can be used to leverage technological solutions for scaling up food fortification initiatives, and complement the government’s outreach efforts through mass awareness and education campaigns in communities.
- The government efforts and interventions should be carried out through a nodal government body which will have responsibility for meeting time-bound nutrition targets, and coordinating multi-sectoral programmes, including the ICDS, the National Rural Health Mission, the midday meal scheme, and the public distribution system.
It has to be realised that economic growth is not the panacea for all public health problems. The ambitious economic figures are weighing down the need of prioritising nutrition of the citizens, especially the current and forthcoming generations.
Hence, For India to harness its long-term demographic dividends, it has to proactively involve itself in primary health care institution where it prioritises nutrition in its health agenda and reforms the institutional framework through which interventions are delivered.
Connecting the dots:
- What is undernutrition? How is the economy affected by it? Discuss possible solutions to tackle the menace of undernutrition.
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