Stepping out of the shadow of India’s malnutrition -Amartya Paul and Upasak Das

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published Published on Nov 28, 2020   modified Modified on Nov 28, 2020

-The Hindu

An immediate universalisation of the PDS, distribution of quality food items and community kitchens are a few solutions

“School-er prarthana sabhar somoy hotat matha ghure pore jaoar ghotona hamesai ghotte dekhi amra. Beshirbhag khetrei ora mid-day-meal khete chaay naa, jiggesh korle bole pete byatha hochhe, Sir (There have been numerous instances during the prayer session in schools where we often observe students feeling sick and falling down out of dizziness. Most of the times they do not want to take mid-day meals and when asked, they complain of stomach ache).”

These words were echoed during a telephonic survey which we conducted in the Burdwan district of West Bengal in September 2020, with schoolteachers on the health conditions of students. Apart from our academic interest, the survey had been largely motivated by a report in the Bengali daily, Anandabazar Patrika, on February 10, 2020.

In this report, a schoolteacher had highlighted how girl students, who took admission in Standard five were relatively shorter in height than the previous year’s batch of students. This, the teacher inferred, was largely integrated with malnutrition that is burgeoning not only in the State but also in rest of the country. In line with what repeatedly restated in our survey, she had reported children from impoverished households not being able to have the mid-day meal many a time because of stomach-related problems, which, according to her, was a result of the children skipping breakfast. If this is found to be the general trend across India, such anecdotal evidence can have larger consequences that can very well lead to different manifestations of malnutrition.

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The Hindu, 28 November, 2020,

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