Article – Unpacking India’s Hunger Paradox : Essay Writing, IFSCA Grade A 2023

Important for Essay Writing : – Tackling Hunger in India: Why Self-Sufficiency is Not Enough

For over 40 years, India has been self-sufficient in food production, yet hunger persists. According to the latest National Family Health Survey, a significant number of young children in India suffer from food insecurity, which can impact their development and future. Despite surplus food, India needs to take deliberate action to provide affordable access to healthy food for all to meet the Sustainable Development Goal of zero hunger.

The statistics are alarming. 18% of mothers with children aged 6-23 months reported that their child had not consumed any food in the 24 hours before the survey. Infants aged 6-11 months had the highest prevalence of zero-food at 30%. India’s child wasting rate is 19.3%, which is worse than the rates recorded in 2014 and 2000. According to the Global Hunger Index 2022, India ranks 107th out of 121 countries. The prevalence of undernourishment has also increased from 14.6% in 2018-2020 to 16.3% in 2019-2021 in India.

One of the issues with current measures is that anthropometric measures like stunting and wasting are insufficient to assess the extent of nutritional deprivation among young children in India. There are also substantial deprivations in specific food groups among children, such as over 80% of children not consuming any protein-rich foods in a day, and almost 40% not eating any grains.

Poshan 2.0 is a flagship program aimed at improving maternal and child nutrition in India. However, appropriate food-based metrics have not been developed to effectively monitor and assess the program’s performance.

Several factors contribute to hunger in India, including poverty and food insecurity, associated factors such as water and sanitation access and availability of food items, demographic factors such as gender, caste, and age, and lack of effective policy implementation. Climate change and food production also impact agricultural activities, creating unfavorable conditions for food production. Micronutrient deficiency, also known as hidden hunger, is also a severe crisis in India.

To address the problem of hunger, there is a need for improved data and focus on young children for nutritional security. There is a lack of reliable data on food and dietary consumption in India, highlighting the need for a nationwide effort to establish routine dietary and nutritional assessments for the entire population. It is crucial to measure the availability, accessibility, and affordability of nutritious food, especially for disadvantaged and vulnerable populations such as young children. The government should prioritize food intake among young children and consider it of primary importance rather than just “complementary” in policies and guidelines related to maternal, infant, and young child nutrition.

The government has implemented several schemes and initiatives to improve nutrition in India, such as the Eat Right India Movement, POSHAN Abhiyan, the Mid-day Meal scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana, food fortification, and the National Food Security Act. However, more needs to be done to tackle hunger in India.

In conclusion, self-sufficiency in food production alone does not ensure food security. India needs to take deliberate action to provide affordable access to healthy food for all to meet the Sustainable Development Goal of zero hunger. It is time to focus on young children and improve the data on food and dietary consumption in India to develop evidence-based policies to end hunger and improve nutritional security.