DMPQ-Child undernutrition is a major problem in India and serious effective policy intervention is the need of the hour. Discuss

The scale and the gender dimension of nutrition in India shows that while there is economic growth of nearly 10 per cent annually, rates of child undernutrition remain very high. According to NFHS-3, 48 per cent of children under the age of five, are stunted due to chronic undernutrition, with 70 per cent being anemic.

The nutrition situation of children is largely due to the situation of women. NFHS-3 indicates that 36 per cent of Indian women are chronically undernourished and 55 per cent are anemic.  Recent data form Bihar and Madhya Pradesh shows that girls represent up to 68 per cent of the children admitted to programmes for the severely malnourished.

Child undernutrition is very much a matter of gender for three main reasons:

  1. It affects women more than it affects men due to the specific nutrition needs of women during adolescence, pregnancy, and lactation;
  2. Widespread nutrition deprivation among women perpetuates an inter-generational cycle of nutrition deprivation in children. Undernourished girls grow up to become undernourished women who give birth to a new generation of undernourished children;
  3. Women are given the responsibility – but often not the means (empowerment) – to ensure optimal nutrition for their children. A recent study in Andhra Pradesh shows that women with higher autonomy (both financial and physical, for example – the freedom to go to the market) are less likely to have stunted children.

Hence, There is a need to control the child undernutrition to make the child the perfect future. They will become active economic agents only if they are healthy and well nourished. So serious policy intervention is the need of the hour.

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