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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid