Critically assess the efforts of the central government in recent years to address extreme hunger and malnutrition in India.
भारत में अत्यधिक भुखमरी और कुपोषण को दूर करने के लिए हाल के वर्षों में केंद्र सरकार के प्रयासों का समालोचनात्मक मूल्यांकन करें।
Start with basic intro with referring to the scramble of Africa try to analyze how it led to the competition among European powers.
In a bid to tackle malnutrition and hunger, government working with several programmes like MDM, POSHAN and POSHAN Atlas ensuring the nutrition of children, women, and pregnant mothers in impoverished areas and the government seems to be looking at community management of the problem.
Efforts of central government to address extreme hunger and malnutrition:
- Cash transfers seem to be a favoured solution for several social sector interventions which includes the health and nutrition sectors. Example: use of JAM trinity (Jan Dhan bank accounts, Aadhaar, Mobile).
- Targeting the right beneficiaries: i.e pregnant women and families with children under the age of five is possible.
- Expanding choice at the household level: They make decisions on what to put on their plates.
- Food Fortification: Food Fortification or Food Enrichment is the addition of key vitamins and minerals such as iron, iodine, zinc, Vitamin A & D to staple foods such as rice, milk and salt to improve their nutritional content.
- National Nutrition Strategy: The Strategy aims to reduce all forms of malnutrition by 2030, with a focus on the most vulnerable and critical age groups.
- Saksham Anganwadi: It seeks to work with adolescent girls, pregnant women, nursing mothers and children below three.
- Child stunting in India declined from 54.2% in 1998–2002 to 34.7% in 2016-2020, whereas child wasting remains around 17% throughout the two decades of the 21st century.
- Stunting has reduced from 38.4% to 35.5%, wasting from 21.0% to 19.3% and underweight prevalence is down from 35.8% to 32.1%.
Failure of government efforts:
- India already has two robust national programmes addressing malnutrition the Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS) and the National Health Mission but these do not yet reach enough people.
- Despite several efforts as per NFHS-5, from 2019 to 21, 35.5% of children under the age of five had stunting, 19.3% had wasted, and 32.1% had an underweight condition.
- Regarding its global standing as a crucial indication of human development, the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2022 has handed India more dismal news. India came in at position 107 out of 121.
- The delivery system is also inadequate and plagued by inefficiency and corruption. Some analysts estimate that 40 per cent of the subsidised food never reaches the intended recipients.
- The current policies have encouraged modern agri-food systems to price healthy diets many times more than diets that rely on staple cereals.
- These restrictions have made low-cost foods with a high energy density and little nutritious value more popular.
- Pulses are a major contributor to address protein hunger. However, there is not enough budgetary allocations done to tackle the problem.
- With Eggs missing from menus of Mid-day Meals in various States, an easy way to improve protein intake is lost.
- Though the government has surplus of foodgrains, there is calorific deficiency because the allocation and distribution is not proper. Even the yearly budget allocated is not fully utilised.
- Getting schemes right: It requires greater involvement of local government and local community groups in the design and delivery of tailored nutrition interventions.
- A comprehensive programme targeting adolescent girls is required if the intergenerational nature of malnutrition is to be tackled.
- Child nutrition: The need of the hour is to make addressing child malnutrition the top priority of the government machinery, and all year around.
- Convergence with other Schemes: Nutrition goes beyond just food, with economic, health, water, sanitation, gender perspectives and social norms contributing to better nutrition.