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Nutrition and Budget’s fine print

  • IASbaba
  • February 14, 2020
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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Indian Governance

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health 

  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes

Nutrition and Budget’s fine print

The Global Hunger Index, reported that India suffers from “serious” hunger, ranked 102 out of 117 countries, and that just a tenth of children between six to 23 months are fed a minimum acceptable diet.

Malnutrition – A condition that results from eating a diet in which one or more nutrients are either not enough or are too much.

There are multiple dimensions of malnutrition that include calorific deficiency, protein hunger and micronutrient deficiency. 

However, there are gaps in governments policy and budgetary allocation when dealing with nutrition in India, some of these are:

First calorific deficiency

  • The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme provides a package of services including supplementary nutrition, nutrition and health education, health check-ups and referral services.
  • ICSD tries to tackle calorific deficiency of children, pregnant and lactating mothers and adolescent girls, and key community groups.
  • For 2019-20, the allotment was Rs. 27,584.37 crore but revised estimates are Rs. 24,954.50 crore, which points to an underutilisation of resources. 
  • Another pathway to address hunger is the Mid-Day Meal Scheme, to enhance nutrition of schoolchildren. 
  • Here too, the issue has been with poor expenditure. The 2019-20 Budget allocation was Rs. 11,000 crore and revised estimates are only Rs. 9,912 crore

Second is protein hunger

  • Pulses are a major contributor to address protein hunger. 
  • However, a scheme for State and Union Territories aims to reach pulses into welfare schemes (Mid-Day Meal, Public Distribution System, ICDS) has revised estimates standing at just Rs. 370 crore against Rs. 800 crore allocation in the 2019-20 Budget.

Third is Micronutrient deficiency

  • Horticulture Mission – which can be one of the ways to address micronutrient deficiency – also has poor implementation.
  • Revised estimates for 2019-20 stand at Rs. 1,583.50 crore against an allocation of Rs. 2,225 crore. 
  • As millets have the potential to address micronutrient deficiencies, the momentum given to these cereals through its inclusion in NFSM (National Food Security Mission) needs to be sustained.
  • However, the NFSM strains to implement allocation of ₹2,000 crore during 2019-20, as revised expenditures stand at ₹1,776.90 crore.

Fourth is weakness in POSHAN Abhiyan

  • Under POSHAN Abhiyaan, the National Nutrition Mission which is a major initiative to address malnutrition, focus of the bulk of the funding has been on technology, whereas, actually, it is convergence that is crucial to address nutrition.
  • The Initiative also found on average that only 34% of funds released by the Government of India were spent from FY 2017-18 to FY 2019-20 till November 30, 2019.

Impact of underspending: allocations for subsequent years will also be affected, limiting the possibility of increasing budgets

Following are suggestions to move forward: 

  • Focus on nutrition-related interventions, beyond digitisation.
  • Intensify the convergence component of POSHAN Abhiyaan, using the platform to bring all departments in one place to address nutrition
  • To form 10,000 farmer producer organisations with an allocation of Rs. 500 crore to nutrition-based activities
  • Promotion of youth schemes to be directed to nutrition-agriculture link activities in rural areas
  • Give explicit emphasis and fund allocation to agriculture-nutrition linked schemes
  • Ensure early disbursement of funds and an optimum utilisation of schemes linked to nutrition.

Conclusion

Nutrition goes beyond just food, with economic, health, water sanitation, gender perspectives and social norms contributing to better nutrition.

This is why implementation of multiple schemes can contribute to better nutrition.

Did You Know?

  • The link between agriculture and nutrition is important because about three-fifths of rural households are agricultural in India and malnutrition rates, particularly in rural areas are high.
  • The Bharatiya Poshan Krishi Kosh (BPKK) which was launched in 2019 by Minister for Women and Child Development and Microsoft is a recent attempt to bridge this gap
  • BPKK is a repository of diverse crops across agro-climatic zones in India for better nutritional outcomes

Connecting the dots!

  • Malnutrition’s impact on GDP and SDG goal 2 of ‘Zero Hunger’ by 2030.
  • Prevalence of Obesity in India- reasons and solutions

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