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The Editorial Analysis- Malnutrition in India is a Worry in a Modern Scenario

Malnutrition in India is a Worry in a Modern Scenario– Relevance for UPSC Exam

  • GS Paper 2: Governance, Administration and Challenges- Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.


Malnutrition in India is a Worry in a Modern Scenario

  • India’s greatest national treasure is its people- especially women and children- but even after 75 years of independence, a majority of them do not get the required diet to meet their nutritional needs.

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Malnutrition in India- Marginal Improvement  

  • The National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) has shown marginal improvement in different nutrition indicators, indicating that the pace of progress is slow.
    • Children in several States are more undernourished now than they were five years ago.
  • Stunting: While there was some reduction in stunting rates (35.5% from 38.4% in NFHS-4) 13 States or Union Territories have seen an increase in stunted children since NFHS-4.
    • This includes Gujarat, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Kerala.
  • Wasting: the most visible and life-threatening form of malnutrition, has either risen or has remained stagnant over the years.
    • Wasting is defined as low weight-for-height.
  • Anaemia: India also has the highest prevalence of anaemia in the world.
    • Anaemia is defined as the condition in which the number of red blood cells or the haemoglobin concentration within them is lower than normal.
    • The NFHS-5 survey indicates that more than 57% of women (15-49 years) and over 67% children (six-59 months) suffer from anaemia.

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Impact of Malnutrition

  • Undernourished children are at risk of under-performing in studies and have limited job prospects.
  • This vicious cycle restrains the development of the country, whose workforce, affected mentally and physically, has reduced work capacity.
  • Anaemia reduces the work capacity of individuals, in turn impacting the economy and overall national growth.
    • Developing countries lose up to 4.05% in GDP per annum due to iron deficiency anaemia.
    • India loses up to 1.18% of GDP annually due to Anaemia.


Eliminating Malnutrition from India- Way Forward

  • Enhanced Investment: increase investment in women and children’s health and nutrition to ensure their sustainable development and improved quality of life.
    • Saksham Anganwadi and the Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nourishment (POSHAN) 2.0 programme have seen only a marginal increase in budgetary allocation this year.
    • Additionally, 32% of funds released under POSHAN Abhiyaan to States and Union Territories have not been utilised.
  • Adopt an Outcome-oriented Approach on Nutrition Programmes: It is crucial that parliamentarians begin monitoring needs and interventions in their constituencies and raise awareness on the issues, impact, and solutions to address the challenges at the local level.
    • There has to be direct engagement with nutritionally vulnerable groups like the elderly, pregnant women, etc. and contribute toward ensuring last-mile delivery of key nutrition services and interventions.
    • This will ensure greater awareness on the one hand and proper planning and implementation of programmes at the grass-roots level on the other, which can then be replicated at the district and national levels.
  • Making people the Agent of Change: With basic education and general awareness, every individual is informed, takes initiatives at the personal level and can become an agent of change.
    • Various studies highlight a strong link between mothers’ education and improved access and compliance with nutrition interventions among children.
    • We must ensure our young population has a competitive advantage; nutrition and health are foundational to that outcome.
  • Effective Monitoring and Evaluation: of programs to address systemic and on the ground challenges.
    • A New or existing committee or the relevant standing committees meet and deliberate over effective policy decisions, monitor the implementation of schemes, and review nutritional status across States.



  • The country’s response to malnutrition and its growing anaemia burden should be practical and innovative. Everyone is a stakeholder and should contribute towards ending malnutrition and anaemia.

Failing on Food- Status of Malnutrition in Children and PM POSHAN Scheme

POSHAN 2.0 scheme

POSHAN 2.0 scheme

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