News / Asia

    Indian PM: Malnutrition a Matter of 'National Shame'

    An Indian boy feeds his sister at their home in a slum in Hyderabad.  Levels of under-nutrition in the country were "unacceptably high" despite impressive GDP growth, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Tuesday and added that the problem of malnutrition wa
    An Indian boy feeds his sister at their home in a slum in Hyderabad. Levels of under-nutrition in the country were "unacceptably high" despite impressive GDP growth, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Tuesday and added that the problem of malnutrition wa

    India's prime minister says malnutrition is a national shame, as a new survey finds that 42 percent of India's children are underweight.  India has long ranked low on the global hunger index but, an alliance of lawmakers, eminent citizens and voluntary groups hopes to change that.

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in New Delhi Tuesday that levels of hunger remain too high in India despite impressive economic growth.

    He was releasing the Hunger and Malnutrition Survey, which underlines widespread malnutrition in the country.

    “What concerns me and what must concern all enlightened citizens is that 42 percent of our children are still underweight," Singh said. "This is an unacceptably high occurrence, and I repeat, the problem of malnutrition is a matter of national shame.”

    The survey was prepared by the non-profit Naandi Foundation for the Citizens Alliance against Malnutrition.  The alliance brings together volunteer groups, young lawmakers from various parties, and prominent citizens who want to turn the spotlight on a problem which many say is not getting the attention it deserves.

    The prime minister said the new survey is both “worrying and encouraging.” It shows a drop in the prevalence of malnutrition.  But the decline is slow - less than three percent a year over the last seven years.

    The survey says many children in India are born underweight.  Others become stunted by the age of two.  But most mothers are unaware of what afflicts their children - more than 90 percent of those covered by the survey had not heard of the word malnutrition.

    Some of these findings are not new. India ranked 67 among 84 countries on the 2010 Global Hunger Index, behind many sub-Saharan countries.

    What is new is the initiative by those who conducted the latest study.  One young lawmaker, B.J. Panda, says the survey has identified “what works and what does not work.”

    “We found that when mid-day meals are done by local NGO’s [non-governmental groups] or even more importantly by women self-help groups where children of the women who provide the mid-day meal are actually in that group, then you find a greater degree of efficacy than a government department running it,” Panda noted.

    Such findings will be used to initiate more efficient programs to mitigate hunger at a faster pace in three districts in the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. If successful, the model will be replicated in other states.

    Indian policy makers admit that access to food remains a challenge for vast sections of the population despite several government programs which include the world’s largest free, school-meal program.

    The high levels of hunger have prompted the government to introduce an ambitious Food Security Bill which promises cheaper food grains to two-thirds of the country’s 1.2 billion people.

    Prime Minister Singh says the new survey underlines the need to pass the legislation quickly. But critics fear that it may face the same problems that afflict many other programs - a sluggish bureaucracy and corruption. 

    You May Like

    UN Observes International Day of Peacekeepers

    The U.N. honors 3,400 peacekeepers killed since first mission in 1948

    Video Rolling Thunder Tribute to US Military Turns into a Trump Rally

    Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora