With 21% of its population
undernourished, nearly 44% of under-5 children underweight and 7% of them dying
before they reach five years, India
is firmly established among the world's most hunger-ridden countries. The
situation is better than only Congo,
Chad, Ethiopia or Burundi, but it is worse than Sudan, North Korea, Pakistan or Nepal.
This is according to the International
Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) which combines the above three
indicators to give us a Global
Hunger Index (GHI) according to which India is 67th among the worst 80
countries in terms of malnourishment.
That's not all. Data collected by GHI researchers shows that while there has
been some improvement in children's malnutrition and early deaths since 1990,
the proportion of hungry in the population has actually gone up.
has 213 million hungry and malnourished people by GHI estimates although the UN
and Agriculture Organization (FAO) puts the figure at around 230 million.
The difference is because FAO uses only the standard calorie intake formula for
measuring sufficiency of food while the Hunger Index is based on broader
Nutrition schemes need to be expanded
Whichever way you slice it and dice it, the shameful reality is inescapable -
India is home to the largest number of hungry people, about a quarter of the
estimated 820 million in the whole world.
Family and Health Survey (NFHS), last carried out in 2004-05, had shown
that 23% of married men, 52% of married women and a chilling 72% of infants
were anemic - a sure sign that a shockingly large number of families were
caught in a downward spiral of slow starvation.
Global research has now firmly established that depriving the fetus of
essential nutrients - as will happen in an under-nourished pregnant woman -
seals the fate of the baby once it is born. It is likely to suffer from
susceptibility to diseases and physical retardation, as also to mental
faculties getting compromised.
So, continuing to allow people to go hungry and malnourished, is not just more
misery for them: it is the fate of future generations of Indians in balance.
What can be done to fix this unending tragedy? The government already runs two
of world's biggest nutrition programmes: the midday meal scheme for students up
to class 12 and the anganwadi programme under which infants and children up to
6 are given "hot cooked" meals.
These need to be spread further and more resources pumped in to tackle
weaknesses. For instance, a report by the anganwadi workers' federation
revealed that as many as 73,375 posts of anganwadi workers and 16,251 posts of
supervisors are lying vacant. But the biggest contribution to fighting hunger
would be providing universal coverage of the PDS with adequate amounts of
grain, pulses and edible oils included.
his is a report sure to sadden & perhaps to anger. How
could it be otherwise when we look at the innocent faces of children whose
lives were cut short by abuse or neglect? Each year our country fails to protect thousands
of children in desperate circumstances, circumstances which sadly end only with
13 lakh kids in India die before 1st birthday
NEW DELHI: Over 55,000 women
die due to child birth in India every
year. Of the total children born in one year, a mind boggling 13 lakh
die before they reach their first birthdays, most of them within a few weeks of
entering this world. Another indicator that the world watches
is how many children cannot survive beyond five years of age. In India every
year, over 16 lakh under-5 years children die.
hair-raising numbers, the highest in the world, mainly
has the highest number of births in the world - over 2.62 crore per year. But
how can one compare this with other countries with lower population or lower
birth rates? That is done by expressing mother's deaths in terms of how many
per 1 lakh live births. For India
mortality rate works out to 212. And for infant deaths the ratio is written
as so many per 1000 live births. For India this works out to 50. Under-5
mortality in India
Although maternal mortality has fallen drastically from 570 in 1990, this
should not be a matter of complacency. In highly advanced countries like in
Western Europe it is below 15, and even in medium human development countries
like in Russia or
it is below 133. China
has maternal mortality of just 38.
Death of mother during or immediately after child birth is a direct function of
health infrastructure, says Dr Amit Sengupta of the People's
Health Movement. "Child birth is a natural function. Death will occur
only if there is an emergency, like an obstruction. For that you need trained
personnel and facilities. If people have to rush 30-40 kms in an emergency, a
tragic and avoidable death results," he explains.
mortality rates too are still high in India, despite slowly reducing from
about 65 in 2000. Our neighbours, though poorer, have done better - IMR is 48 in Nepal and 52 in Bangladesh. In China it is
Most infant deaths occur in the first few weeks because, again, health facilities and
doctors are not easily available or cost too much. A clear indication of this
comes from the wide difference between rural and urban rates. In rural areas, infant mortality is 55 while in urban areas it is much less at
A revealing fact is the variations across states. Infant mortality varies from
67 in MP, 65 in Orissa and 63 in UP to just 12 in Kerala, 28 in Tamil Nadu and
33 in West Bengal.
Maternal mortality varies from 390 in Assam and 359 in Uttar Pradesh to
81 in Kerala. Obviously there are some lessons in all this: better education,
better infrastructure, better nutrition. But what is perhaps most direly needed
is political will across the board.
Thanks & Regards,
B.Arch, MSc.CPM,Dip.ID, Dip.CAD, Dip.PM