Riddance from hunger and undernutrition

The ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ launched by Prime Minister NarendraModi right in 2014 attained the status of one of the greatest mass movements, nothing short of a revolution involving people at the grass root level and India has very successfully achieved a status of near “no open defecation”. The claims of cent percent achievement in the area is contested by many for various reasons but the fact remains that there has been an extra ordinary turnaround in the area of cleanliness and hygienic habits. Should a campaign nowbe launched with the required urgency, zeal and commitment for eradication of hunger from the country and for providing nutritious food in reasonable requirement? If warning bells are properly heard in the country, it should seriously attract the policy planners in NITI Ayog and other concerned Government agencies. Short term and long term measures are required to address the problem of hunger and under-nutrition as also formulating of a proper National Population Policy.
There could be no qualms about the fact that it does not behove a country of the status and stature of India to show negative ratings in comparison to the figures of 2015 in terms of Global Hunger Index (GHI). We have slipped down from position No.93 to 102. Plummeting nine ranks instead of gaining more than 2015, calls not only for an introspection about the seriousness needed to be accorded to the issue but chalking out a vision, a cogent perception, an economic cum social master plan with adopting a proper strategy to achieve the goals. Whatever the parameters of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) are employed in measuring and tracking hunger at the global level, could not be contested or questioned about their veracity but equally they could also not be fully relied upon in respect of gradation but never doubted regarding the basic issue. At the same time, that we lagged behind countries even like Pakistan and Nepal in the latest grading, should be taken as a challenge to pursue a solid and specially tailored policy in respect of nutrition, medical and educational facilities with intent to resolve problems like undernutrition, low weight in comparison to height and nutritious diet of minimum required proteins and vitamins to our children in the critical age group of 6 to 36 months.
Children being future and a human capital of a country should not ipso-facto form the ranking under alarming wastage ratio while the reasons being that the levels of malnutrition and even chronic under-nutrition especially in children below and up to five years of age, reckoned by the IFPRI plays a critical role in calculating and measuring hunger index which unfortunately for all the seven decades , this country has not been giving due or sufficient attention due to resources constraints prone to a developing country. Childcare and lactating mothers’ care in respect of proper nutritious diet was fundamental to the entire problem as the first 36 months are crucial for the child to grow and develop. That the children of the country must not be treated as unwanted liability simply for the reason they have to be fed to grow and develop but we must see in them a potential human resource for the country which needs to be part of our mindset.
Agreed, the position is not that dismal as it is the question of onlynearly 10 per cent of the children within the stipulated age group, not getting a full nutritious meal in the country but with all the seriousness and determination, the Government can ably mobilise the requisite resources to resolve the problem. However, those who are unnecessarily raising pitched voices against any hike even nominal one in payment of taxes, must appreciate that without resources mobilisation, it was difficult if not impossible,to fight a gigantic problem like malnutrition, diet and hunger. Hopefully, let us wait to see comfortably being placed in the GHI in the next assessment.