• In the Maharashtra state in India, the percentage of stunted children dropped from 39 per cent in 2005 to 23 per cent in 2012 largely because of support to frontline workers who focus on improving child nutrition *
• Total number of malnourished children (Grade I, II, III and IV) exceeded the 40 percent mark in 10 states/ UTs (Andhra Pradesh: 49 percent, Bihar: 82 percent, Haryana: 43 percent, Jharkhand: 40 percent, Odisha: 50 percent, Rajasthan: 43 percent, UP: 41 percent, Delhi: 50 percent, Daman and Diu: 50 percent and Lakshadweep: 40 percent), as on 31 March, 2011 σ
• Poor hygiene and sanitation were noticed in the AWCs due to the absence of toilets in 52 percent of the test checked AWCs and non-availability of drinking water facility for 32 percent of the test checked AWCs σ
• India's 2012 GHI score is 22.9 (rank: 65) as compared to China's GHI score of 5.1 (rank: 2), Bangladesh's score of 24.0 (rank: 68), Pakistan's score of 19.7 (rank: 57), Nepal's score of 20.3 (rank: 60) and Sri Lanka's score of 14.4 (rank: 37) €
• Children in the poorest households are more than twice as likely to be stunted as those in the richest households in India α
• 48% of children in India are stunted. 450 million children will be affected by stunting in the next 15 years, if current trends continue $
• Malnutrition is an underlying cause of the death of 2.6 million children each year–one-third of the global total of children’s deaths $
• The HUNGaMA study (2011) shows that in the 100 Focus Districts, 42 percent of children under five are underweight and 59 percent are stunted. Of the children suffering from stunting, about half are severely stunted $$
• The HUNGaMA study (2011) conducted in the 100 Focus Districts shows that 66 per cent mothers did not attend school; rates of child underweight and stunting are significantly higher among mothers with low levels of education; the prevalence of child underweight among mothers who cannot read is 45 percent while that among mothers with 10 or more years of education is 27 per cent $$* UNICEF report titled: Improving Child Nutrition: The achievable imperative for global progress (April, 2013),
σ Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India on Performance Audit of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme, CAG Report no. 22 of 2012-13-Union Government (Ministry of Women and Child Development), http://saiindia.gov.in/english/home/Our_Products/Audit_Rep
$ A Life Free from Hunger: Tackling child malnutrition (2012), Save the Children
$$ HUNGaMA: Fighting Hunger & Malnutrition (2011), Naandi Foundation, http://hungamaforchange.org/HungamaBKDec11LR.pdf
India’s story of attaining self sufficiency in food grain production is the stuff of the legend. But a proud India was soon to learn that self sufficiency did not mean food for every citizen, leave alone adequate nutrition. However, one must not undermine the value of self reliance, knowing well enough the sinister link between hunger and a country’s dependence on food imports. One must also remember that many developed countries where nutrition is not a problem happen to be big importers of food. Obviously, nutrition security depends on a large number of factors, many of which have nothing to do with food.
The issue of nutritional security is extremely complex. Many countries with similar per capita food consumption have vastly different rates of life expectancies and child mortality. Clearly, oversimplified statistical correlations and juxtapositions don’t work here. Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen have argued in their seminal work, Hunger and Public Action (OUP 1989), that we need to broaden our attention: a) from food-sufficiency to food-adequacy, b) from food adequacy to food entitlements, and c) from food entitlements to nutritional and related capabilities. The authors capture the big picture of nutritional security through many non-food factors like “medical attention, health services, basic education, sanitary arrangements, provision of clean water, eradication of infectious epidemics, and so on.”
If we want to know why one third of world’s underweight children (which comes to roughly 57 million) live in India, we only have to look at a child’s environment here. According to NFHS, two third babies are born anemic and about one third have stunted growth. Those who survive the lack of healthcare, immunization, sanitation or safe drinking water grow up as victims of human trafficking, child abuse or forced child labour. It is obvious that improving the nutritional security of its children is much more complex than achieving self-sufficiency in food production. True, the country is committed to achieving this through the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) but its progress is agonizingly slow.