The Global Hunger Index assessed and evaluated that India is experiencing and undergoing ill effects from “serious” hunger, and globally ranked India 102 out of 117 countries listed, it's a disturbing report that mentions only 1/10 of the children are provided or have access to required everyday minimum nutrition, age between 06 months to 2 years.
India, the world's second-largest population and the largest figure of emaciated people in the world, India is required to accelerate to realize Sustainable Development Goal 2 of ‘Zero Hunger to eradicate or eliminate the hunger by 2030.
The Economic Survey mentioned that India is required to give special stress to expedite the malnutrition issues among young children, however, the Indian economic budget has not clearly described nutrition in finer detail.
Malnutrition refers to a lack of required elements in one’s body, can also be considered as a deficiency of must-needed minerals and entries, such condition results from excesses or lack of intake or major variance (in/out) in a one’s intake of required.
Malnutrition can be classified into two broad categories ...
- Imped or hinder in physical growth (shorter in height in collation with age), underweight in collation with height and age, deficiencies of micronutrients (absence of vital vitamins and needed minerals).
- The condition or situation of being overweight due to intake or consumption of more nutrients than actually required. This is more popularly known as obesity and other non-communicable ailments (i.e. Heart stroke, varied cancers, and diabetes).
Plan of action and allotment in the Budget
There are varied aspects of malnutrition that include protein hunger, insufficiency of micronutrients, and calorific deficiency.
Existing schemes or plans can very well identify and address India’s malnutrition uncertainty (problem).
An important solution to address the dilemma of the problem of malnutrition is through immediate, consistent, and fair agricultural practices. The exclusive program titled Bhartiya Poshan Krishi Kosh was initiated in the year 2019 by Hon. Mrs. Smriti Irani (Minister of Women and Child Development) in co-operation with Mr. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft to fill or bridge the gap.
The persistence and resolution around complete nutrition were mentioned and celebrated in the Finance Minister’s Budget speech, as mentioned the unparalleled (unmatched or uncommon) level of developments under the Prime Minister’s comprehensive (all-embracing) plan for integrated nutrition, or POSHAN Abhiyaan, the nationwide complete Nutrition Mission with an attempt to identify and record the situation of 10 crore Indian households.
Gaps in identifying, locating, and addressing the Concern
First: Calorific Deficiency
- Indian governments maneuver, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) provides the series or bundle of initiatives inclusive of complete nutrition, comprehensive health education, supplementary nutrition, regular health check-ups for Childrens, adolescent girls, complete health check-ups, and consulting to pregnant women and lactating mothers, ICDS is predominantly aimed to towards identifying and addressing malnutrition within the community and fight calorific deficiency and much more.
- For 2019-2020, the Centre Govt. approved and allocated ₹27.5k crore towards ICDS, however, the newly revised figures are ₹25k crore, which indicates improperly and underutilization of the allocated resources by the franchise of government agencies.
- The fund and financial allocation in the current fiscal year 2020 are considerably higher in comparison with the past records, but however understandably, the primary priority must be its actuality or project implementation.
- Another promising plan to address the malnutrition concern (malnutrition in children) is the preparation and distribution of Mid-day meals in government schools to ensure and safeguard adequate nutrition in Children.
- Although, it is not the fund allocation but the actuality or implementation of the scheme that seems ineffective. The allocation of the fund for the year 2019-2020 was ₹11k crore, however, the underutilization of the allocated funds resulted in revised figures to be ₹9k crores.
Second: Protein Hunger
- Pulses are the leading, major and easy source of protein hunger.
- Despite, a scheme for State and Union Territories primarily to make pulses available into the ICDS welfare schemes (Mid-Day Meal, Public Distribution System) has corrected the estimates, the new budget figures of just ₹370 crores against the earlier ₹800 crore allotment in the 2019-20 Budget.
Third: Micronutrients Deficiency
- However, the series of Horticulture Mission is often one among the ways to deal with micronutrient deficiency successfully, but here too effective implementation is the concern.
- In 2018-19, the Indian government initiated a national millet mission that included rebranding millets as “Nutri-cereals” also started a Year of Millets in 2018-19 to encourage, promote and market nutritious cereals, Nationwide in campaign mode.
- Could have had room to further intensify (highlight) in the Budget along with NFSM which already accommodates millets in their list.
- As millets already have a remarkable prospect to bridge the gap of micronutrient deficiencies, thus making them an ideal candidate for the government scheme, however, the momentum and marketing made available for these pulses and cereals should be encouraged and sustained.
- There is a major variation in preliminary goals set, budget allocation, and actual workflow, taking a look at POSHAN ABHIYAAN, to address the nationwide malnutrition concern in children, but approximately 72% of the actual expenses are from the Real-Time Monitoring, setting up required common application software, and expenditure on gadgets and components.
- It's a weird finding, that a major chunk of the funding is consumed by Information technology-related expenses, whereas primarily it is the convergence that is critical and important to deal with nutrition.
- Other findings reported that only 34% (not even half) of the funds allocated by the Indian government were ever utilized by the concerned agencies to address the needs, from the year 2017 to 2018, 2018 to 2019 until Nov. 30th, 2019.
Impact and Precipitate of the Linkage Scheme
Firstly, the underutilization of funds and resources allocated for the financial year will adversely affect the subsequent years to come, stunting or removing any possibility of increased allocation in the budgets and eventually the focus and concentration on nationwide nutrition schemes.
Secondly, the agriculture-nutrition link, an independent another piece of the bewildering. While agriculture ruled the initial Budget speeches, the link and integration between agriculture and nutrition wasn't straightforward and planned.
This linkage and integration are crucial because about 3/5 of rural families have their livelihood based on agriculture. However, according to the National Sample Survey Office, 70th round, in India malnutrition rates are notably very high, particularly in rural parts of India these rates are considerably high according to the National Family Health Survey-4.
Taking into account the above-mentioned points, the linkage and integration of Agriculture-Nutrition have a greater prospect of impacting the malnutrition concern and better chances of proving relevant statistics and data required.
Way Ahead: Suggestions and Opinions to More Ahead
- Focus on core and preliminary goal of nutrition-related reforms, not digitization;
- Strengthen and boost the overlapping and intersecting component of POSHAN Abhiyaan, use the platform to cover and bring all concerned institutions and departments in one place to strengthen the nutrition goal;
- Command the deceleration, the pronouncement to form a large cluster of 10,000 farmer producer organization with the dedicated allotment of ₹500 crores to nutrition-based pursuit and activities;
- Marketing, promotion, and encouragement, of the youth scheme to be focused on nutrition-agriculture activities in remote and rural India.
- Enable straightforward and clear attention and fund allocation to schemes related to exclusively engaged in agriculture-nutrition linked schemes;
- Make sure, timely distribution of the allocated fund and best utilization of the schemes integrated into nutrition.
- Contributing to the efforts of enhancing the complete nutritional intake of Girls and Women during the vulnerable period of pre-conception and pregnancy and providing adequate and sufficient pre-birth care to positively impact the low birth weight KPI.
- Attention is required on major and key determinants, such as clean and fresh drinking water, avoiding open defecation through hygiene education, improving literacy rate & access to education for girls, safeguarding & ensuring food security for unsafe and families in an unfortunate situation.
- Using indicators plan well ahead of time for a remarkable reduction in malnutrition and nationwide, uniform yet scalable, implementation of the scheme within the context of each state.
Not every morsel of food is nutrition and every nutrition may not be a portion of good food.
A healthier nation will create a wealthier nation
Nutrition travels way ahead of just food, socio-economic, health & sanitation, clean water, sexual orientation, and social linkage together contribute to enhanced nutrition. Thus, it becomes important and critical for the effective deployment of multiple schemes to address the problem of malnutrition in various parts of India, especially in rural and remote areas of India.
The Economic Survey clearly mentions that regular nutrition is important and vital for the growth and improvement of the human capital and this is eventually crucial for the national wealth creation.
Malnutrition has many adverse effects on the human body, some of these are …
- Limiting and stunting individual cognitive ability.
- Limiting the workforce movement, their health.
- Put an individual’s personal and career life in jeopardy.
- May introduce permanent abnormality and deformity.
Talking from the context of the economy, the World Bank and World Food Programme cited that malnutrition may hamper as much as 16% of the GDP.