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Despite India’s recent rapid economic development and its growing number of wealthy (and extremely wealthy), it has lagged behind in providing sufficient nutrition to its 833 million rural India dwellers.
According to a survey conducted by the National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau, people residing in rural India (70% of the total population), are not able to consume enough nutrients recommended to stay healthy. The report revealed that 35% of rural men and women were undernourished, and 42% of children were found to be underweight.
Records revealed that the citizens living in rural India were even better off 40 years ago. Today, a rural Indian on average gets 550 calories,13 gm protein, 5 mg iron, 250 mg calcium and about 500 mg vitamin A lesser than someone in 1975- 1979.
Instead of the 300 ml of milk that the children below three years old require daily, they get, on average, only 80 ml per day. Poor nutrition among mother has also resulted in high infant mortality rate, with lives lost to early childhood diseases and infections.
According to the World Bank, India has remained to be one of the highest ranking countries in the world for the number of children suffering from malnutrition. India’s number of underweight children is among the highest in the world, and is almost double that of Sub Saharan Africa.
“The consequences of child under-nutrition for morbidity and mortality are enormous – and there is, in addition, an appreciable impact of under-nutrition on productivity so that a failure to invest in combating nutrition reduces potential economic growth,” World Bank stated in its report.
Global Hunger Index (GHI) Report for 2015 ranked India as the 20th country in the world with the worst hunger situation. In South Asian nations, it ranks third behind Afghanistan and Pakistan, with a “serious situation” grade.
For a developing country with a lot of potential and promise for growth, such statistics demand for immediate attention. It remains to be seen if Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make-in-India and Skill-India programs for economic growth somehow designated some of its initiatives to alleviating the plight of its millions of hungry citizens.