Setting a proper diet plan
Mains Paper 3: Economy
Prelims level: PDS
Mains level: Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations,
revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security
- India has been ranked at 103 out of 119 countries, with hunger
levels categorised as “serious”, in the Global Hunger Index 2018.
- India’s child malnourishment level is not only the highest in the
world but varies considerably across States.
- As per the National Family Health Survey-2016, the proportion of
stunted (low height for age) children under five is significantly higher
(38.4%) than global (22.9%) averages.
- The underweight (low weight for age) children rate (35.7%) is a
lot higher than the global average (13.5%) too.
- India is home to over 53.3 million stunted, 49.6 million
underweight and 29.2 million wasted (low weight for height) children under
- Growing prosperity has hardly made any significant dent in chronic
malnutrition of children.
- Faster economic growth has enormous benefits, but it is by no
means sufficient and sustainable if millions of children remain
undernourished, as it not only impacts early childhood health and imposes
disease burden but also affects education, wages and productivity when they
grow up, which will impact India’s growth.
Where does the solution lie?
- One problem lies with the current thinking of growth-oriented
- The low income and Empowered-Action-Group (EAG) States face major
challenges to improve malnutrition, but, two EAG States, Chhattisgarh and
Odisha, have performed better on
this front compared to Gujarat and Maharashtra where per capita income is
- The development path prevalent in Gujarat is more about growth and
investment, which, however, has not been able to translate as better
nutritional status in the State.
- Odisha, which is a low income State, has a better network of
Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), public health
facility/workforce per lakh population and educational attainment among
women, which have translated into a better nutritional status when compared
- The tribals, rural, poor and illiterate mothers’ children are
badly off in so-called developed States of Haryana, Gujarat and Punjab.
These groups are also affected in poorer States of
U.P., Bihar, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh.
- Around two-thirds of stunted/underweight children are from 200
districts of both less developed and developed States.
Agriculture v. hunger
- Another prominent idea is the need to link agriculture and
nutrition, as agriculture provides answers to most nutrition problems.
- It shows malnutrition continues to be high in agricultural surplus
States like Haryana (34% stunting and 29.5% underweight).
- Worryingly, malnutrition in some of its agriculturally-developed
districts (Karnal, Panipat, Sonipat, Rohtak as well as in Gurugram) is even
higher than the average of Odisha.
- Recently, Madhya Pradesh has registered double-digit growth in
food grain production making it one of the wheat granaries of India, but
acute malnutrition is still critical in most of its
districts with a high proportion of underweight (42.8%) and stunted children
- An inclusive and holistic approach, including
controlling/regulating food price, strengthening the public distribution
system (PDS) and income support policies for making food cheaper are
- The ICDS was a high impact nutrition intervention, but its
universal availability and quality are questionable due to poor functioning.
- The government must broaden the ICDS programme by ensuring
diversity in food items in worst-hit districts.
- The launch of the National Nutrition Mission as a strategy to
fight maternal and child malnutrition is a welcome step towards achieving
the targets of underweight and stunted children under five years from 35.7%
to 20.7% and from 38.4% to 25% respectively by 2022.
- But sustained budgetary commitment towards nutrition components is
not sharply visible.
Q1. Which among the following is/are key objectives of Integrated Management
of Public Distribution System?
1. To prevent duplication of Ration Cards and beneficiaries.
2. Allow beneficiaries to take ration at subsidized rates from any place across
3. To bring transparency and efficiency in distribution of food grains.
Select the correct answer using the code given below.
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 1, 2 and 3
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 3 only
Q.1) To tackle malnutrition, food prices must be regulated and the PDS
strengthened in both developed and poor States. Critically analyse the