UPSC SOCIOLOGY MAINS SYLLABUS
Paper 2 – Indian Society and Structure – SECTION B
(vii) Challenges of Social Transformation:
(a) Crisis of development: displacement, environmental problems and sustainability.
(b) Poverty, deprivation and inequalities.
(c) Violence against women.
(d) Caste conflicts.
(e) Ethnic conflicts, communalism, religious revivalism.
(f) Illiteracy and disparities in education.
India has slipped 6 places and ranked 107, out of 121 countries, in Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2022. In India, malnutrition causes about half of child deaths and is a major cause of morbidity in children. It has medical and social disorder rooted in poverty and discrimination. It has an economic ripple effect that hampers development.
Findings of National Family Health Survey (NFHS) – 5
Meghalaya has the highest number of stunted children (46.5%), followed by Bihar (42.9%).
Maharashtra has 25.6% wasted children (weight for height).
Jharkhand has the highest percentage of women (26%), between 15 and 49 years, who have a below-normal Body Mass Index (BMI).
According to findings of the 2019-21 National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5), nutrition indicators for children under 5 have improved over NFHS-4 (2015-16). Stunting has reduced from 38.4% to 35.5%, wasting from 21.0% to 19.3% and underweight prevalence is down from 35.8% to 32.1%, according to the data. Women (15-49 years) whose BMI is below normal has reduced from 22.9% in NFHS-4 to 18.7% in NFHS-5. Despite the decrease, nutrition experts have said that India has one of the highest burdens of malnutrition in the world.
REASONS FOR MALNUTRITION
Though poverty alone does not lead to malnutrition, it affects the availability of adequate amounts of nutritious food for the most vulnerable populations.
Lack of potable water, poor sanitation, and dangerous hygiene practices increase vulnerability to infectious and water-borne diseases, which are direct causes of acute malnutrition.
Malnourished girls become malnourished adolescents who marry early and have children who become malnourished, and so the cycle continues.
There is a lack of real-time data that brings all these factors together to show the extent of India’s malnutrition.
A severe micronutrient deficiency has been observed in India, which is also known as hidden hunger.
Infections like malaria and measles may precipitate acute malnutrition and aggravate the existing nutritional deficit.
In most of the poor households, women and preschool children especially girls receive less food than the economically active male members.
National Nutrition Mission (NNM): The government of India has launched the National Nutrition Mission (NNM), also known as POSHAN Abhiyaan, to eradicate malnutrition by the year 2022.
Anemia Mukt Bharat Abhiyan: The mission was launched in 2018 with the aim of accelerating anemia decline by one to three percentage points annually.
Mid-day Meal (MDM) scheme: It aims to improve nutrition levels among school children in addition to increasing enrolment, retention, and attendance.
The National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013: Assuring food and nutrition security for the most vulnerable is the aim of this law, which makes access to food a legal entitlement.
Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme: It was launched in 1975 and the programme aims to provide food, preschool education, primary healthcare, immunization, health checkups and referral services to children under 6 years old and their mothers.
There is a greater need now to increase investment in women and children’s health and nutrition to ensure their sustainable development and improved quality of life. India must adopt an outcome oriented approach on nutrition programmes. While the Government’s focus has been on the consolidation of several programmes to improve outcomes, there is a need for increased financial commitment. There has to be direct engagement with nutritionally vulnerable groups (this includes the elderly, pregnant women, those with special needs and young children), and contribute toward ensuring last mile delivery of key nutrition services and interventions.