42% of Indian young childen underweight
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called malnutrition in the
country "a national shame" on January 10, 2011 as he released a major survey that
found 42 percent of children under five were underweight. "The problem of malnutrition is a matter of national shame," Singh said
at the launch of the HUNGaMA (Hunger and Malnutrition) Report, which surveyed 73,000 households across nine states.
"Despite impressive growth in our GDP, the level of under-nutrition in
the country is unacceptably high. We have also not succeeded in reducing
this rate fast enough," the prime minister added. Manmohan Singh said the findings of the report by an alliance of non-government
organisations were both "worrying and encouraging" for India -- a fast-growing country of 1.2 billion people with the highest number of
The research found the proportion of under-fives who are underweight had
declined 11 percentage points in seven years, but Singh said it remained
"unacceptably high" at 42 percent. "We cannot hope for a healthy future with a large number of malnourished
children," he said.
India's economy has boomed in the last 20 years since a liberalisation
wave in 1991, leading to the perception of a "shining" country emerging from decades of poverty with GDP growth rates of nearly 10 percent in
Childhood in poverty
In India a child whose legitimate place is at school is found to be
holding a hammer and chisel in his hand to supplement the income of his
poor family. In one of its reports, the Planning Commission also admits that though
there are clear provisions in the Constitution to safeguard the interest of children by ensuring that they receive education and are not forced
to work for a living, it is unfortunate that the problem of child labour due to poverty exists to a large extent in India.
Children are the greatest victims of poverty in India. *Eight Indian states have more poor than 26 African countries: *As per
the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), there are more poor people in eight Indian states (a total of around 421 million in Bihar,
Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal) than in the 26 poorest African countries
combined (410 million), said a report brought out by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and
Oxford university. A similar report on poverty shows that India slipped two spots (rank 67) on the global
hunger index 2010 released by the International Food Policy research Institute (IFPRI).
*India among the worst places for a mother: *The report by the child rights organisation ‘Save the Children’ placed India 73rd
among 77 middle-income countries in terms of the “Best Place to be a
Mother”. According to its report, 70,000 women lose their lives due to
pregnancy or childbirth complications. In different report the organisation noted that India had the highest number of underweight
children and with severe acute malnutrition.
Undernourished children live in Poverty
Prof Shenggen Fan, Director General, International Food Policy Research
Institute (IFPRI), Washington DC, said that hunger and malnutrition continued to be challenging problems among 29 countries of the world,
and India was one of them. As such, food and nutrition availability should be the major development goals in the national policy of these developing nations.
In South Asia, especially in India, an impressive economic growth and, to a large extent, reduced poverty in the recent
years, have not translated into improved nutrition. Globally, the bulk of malnutrition occurs in Asia, with South Asia having the highest rates
of undernutrition and the largest numbers of undernourished children in
the world-42 percent of the world.s undernourished children live in India. The disconnect between growth and reduced
under nutrition is often referred to as the "Asian Enigma."
Childhood in Slums
Children force to live in
slums with their poor parents in big cities also. India’s economic growth may or may
not be a white elephant but the slum population in the country is reaching a mammoth size. The slum population has risen by as much as
around 23 percent since 2001, said a study prepared by the government of India.
Saving India's children
Time to act- the
slogan of: Aamir Khan, part of Citizens' Alliance, comprised of MPs across parties and NGOs, that aims to create social awareness of
malnutrition among kids. India has more malnourished children than neighbouring Bangladesh which,
until a decade back, was considered something of a basket case. Even
African countries like the Congo, Lesotho, Tanzania and Rwanda are better placed than us.
Why be so concerned about this one issue? Because the very fact that
almost one out of every two children in this country goes to bed on an empty stomach is shocking in itself. Malnutrition is the principal cause
of child deaths. Half of all child deaths in India could be prevented if this one issue was tackled. Children die because malnutrition lowers a
child's resistance to infection. As a result, they become vulnerable even when they have eminently treatable conditions like diarrhoea and
Child malnutrition in Rajasthan
Rajasthan had the highest maternal mortality ratio, the third highest total fertility rate and the fourth highest infant mortality rate among the major states in India in 2001.
The prevalence of child malnutrition increased from 42 per cent in 1993 to 51 per cent in 1999. In 1998-99, one study found that 51 per cent of children under the age of three were underweight, 52 per cent were stunted and 12 per cent were wasted access to education, nutrition and health resources and services in Rajasthan is much more significantly mediated by gender, caste and class than in other parts of India. Girls, children from lower castes, and children living in rural and remote areas are likely to have higher infant, child and maternal mortality rates, poorer nutrition, access to
healthcare and other services, including particularly education for girls is not accorded a high importance by many families.
Inadequate educational opportunities and poor health conditions and services are partly responsible for intergenerational poverty
transfers poor environmental conditions and frequent droughts also contribute to the transfer of poverty to future generations.
The costs of sending children to school is a significant disincentive to the education
of girls. The high costs of healthcare contribute to the high rates of infant and child mortality.
The number of working children in Rajasthan is the second highest in the country.