Saturday, May 27, 2006

Child malnutrition in India

This is a shame.

Currently, India is home to the highest percentages of undernourished children in the world.

These chilling facts are part of a report prepared by the World Bank on the current malnutrition crisis in India. The prevalence of underweight kids among children in India is amongst the highest in the world, and nearly double that of Sub-Saharan Africa, it says.

The report notes that in in six states, Maharashtra, Orissa, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan at least one in two children is undernourished. The latter four of these six states account for more than 43% of all underweight children in the country.

More than half of the child deaths take place due to major diseases: malaria (57%), diarrhea (61%), pneumonia (52%), and measles (45%). Child malnutrition is responsible for 22% of the country’s burden of disease.

Democracy is a great weapon with which to fight famines- inages of starving millions in the newspapers and on television can shame even a government into action. However, its a poor defense against mass hunger. The above is not really news- this has been the state of affairs for quite some time .

Its news like these that incline me to think that the current "debate" over reservations in institutes of higher education is a red herring. It appears that both sides are ignoring what matters- primary education, primary health care (how can children be dying of diarrhea in 2006?), basic infrastructure.

5 comments:

Jay said...

despicable !
y does the media anywhere ours included focus on Africa ...
if the is correct "and nearly double that of Sub-Saharan Africa" then the focus shld be on India rt ? maybe we need Hollywood...

tanul said...

Reservation is a populist measure, irradication of diarrhea will not get you as many votes and attention as reservation would. The government has more important issues to deal with like "Should you put a limit on the number of times you can chnage your name".

Rajeev Ramachandran said...

Re the Africa thing- may be partly because all of 'frica has 'bt 900 million inhabitants, so we would have more hungry kids. 'gree with the main point, though- these kids and their parents would argue that the press is, as usual, full of it when they bluster abt our achievements.
Re being a populist measure- 'gree again. Democracy is the best thing we have in India, but its inevitable in a democracy that a small benefit to a large number of people will always be outweighed by a large benefit to a small number. Around the world, governments pursue "swing" voters: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steel_tariffs
But in a poor country like India, its a matter of life or death. Or life worse than death.
Must blog on the Reservations, but need more time for that...

Anonymous said...

I agree with the last sentence - basic education and health for all.
Rajani

usha said...

There is a need to improve the overall nutritional level of Indian women in general Rajeev.Our society never paid much attention to the health of women except ofcourse where it mattered in child bearing .It is unfortunate.How does the world bank specialist think a malnutritioned mother be able to breastfeed her baby --exclusive feeding.The problem is social,economicaltoo.Nothing that cannot be corrected if there is a will ,though.