Food and Nutrition Security Analysis, 2019 – report that was recently published showed the bleak picture of the hunger and malnutrition amongst children in India. Regardless of all measures taken by the Indian government to ensure economic growth, implementation of numerous government schemes to eradicate poverty and malnutrition, undernourishment remains high among the poor in Indian society. If the situation is not addressed soon, the aspiration to achieve SDG-2 may become far more difficult.
The Union Budget 2019-20 saw an increased focus on food fortification. India is currently suffering from nutrition insecurity despite the progress made in food production capacity and food security. Regardless of all the poverty alleviation and food security schemes, currently, 38% of children under 5 years are stunted, 36% are underweight and 21% are wasted (too thin for their height). This is a sign of acute under-nutrition. Furthermore, 59% of women and 53% of children are anaemic. The government’s intervention to address this issue is a need of the hour.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his Independence Day speech, addressed the problem of population explosion in India. He termed those who opt for smaller families as patriots. He argued that the development and prosperity of the nation begin only when all the individuals are healthy and resourceful. He appealed for the public effort to reduce the population at the ground level. This speech comes with the backdrop of the UN Population Projections report that estimated that India will be the most populous country in the world through the current century.
Many efforts taken by the Indian government and various other organisations in recent years are not addressing the problem of the startling decline in India’s sex ratio since 2011. Many are alarmed that it would be reflected in India’s child sex ratio in the 2021 Census report.
The Public Distribution System, India’s landmark food security system, was commenced in 1944 to address the poverty that was affecting the country during that time. It is a vital instrument that ensures the availability of certain essential commodities at an affordable price for the poor. Regardless, this system is often criticized for its inefficiency and corruption. The low-quality food grains from the ration shops are not enough to address the needs of the poor. India has the largest stock of grains in the world besides China. Yet, 21% of the Indian population remains undernourished. The government must address the corruption, inefficiency and low-quality food grains of the PDS for its success.