Monday, September 16, 2013

Everybody would agree and appreciate how important it is for the country's real development to have a healthy population, more particularly  of women and children. We talk and promise so much on the issue of child and woman welfare and roll out so many plans and strategies with so much of fanfare. It is an  irony, however, that malnutrition and under-nutrition have not stopped taking its toll in our country and as per a report of UNICEF, one in every three malnourished children in the world live in India. Some months back, even the Prime Minister said that the level of under-nutrition was unacceptably high which he termed as a "National Shame."

The much talked about Food Security Bill, reportedly a game changer for ruling coalition at the centre during the ensuing Lok Sabha election, has just been passed by parliament in recently concluded monsoon session which promises to make available wheat and rice at highly subsidised rate to 67% of country's population  within few months from now thereby  vindicating  the highly deplorable situation prevailing in the country.

Let us consider some more startling and painful facts:
  • About 50% of all childhood deaths are attributed to malnutrition.
  • Over two million under- 5 deaths take place due to under-nutrition.To say,6000 deaths every day. 250 deaths per hour on an average.
  • The under-nutrition cases are the highest in MP,Orissa, Bihar, UP & Rajasthan
  • 74% children under three & 52% of women in India are Anaemic.
  • As high as 44% children under 5 years are underweight. 

It is also observed during various surveys that:
  • Malnutrition in early childhood has serious long term consequences, because it impedes development of vital human organs. As such,it has a lasting impact on the child's overall physical & mental development.
  • Malnourished children will struggle at school  and are more prone to infectious diseases including HIV.
  • Most of these children come from socially deprived & poorest communities-tribals and lower castes where illiteracy is poor  and poverty relatively very high.
  • Adequate nourishment of the pregnant women was found to be very crucial not only for good health of the mother but also for the child's birth  and thereafter.

Thus, the question is: who will address these issues which is a blot on our economic growth theory and more importantly why it continues to be a national shame even after 66 years of independence?

माना कि  शोषण-कुपोषण का रिश्ता है पुराना
पर अब तो लोग नए हैं, नया है जमाना
फिर, कब तक  मिटेगा यह अंधकार,
कब तक रहेंगे हम यूँ  ही शर्मसार ?

As always, I'm keen to know what do you think on this subject. Hence, request you to post comments to share your views and experiences to take this discussion forward.

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