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

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid