ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Mandatory Rice Fortification with Iron

The lack of evidence and misplaced policy design underlie the government’s push for fortifying staples with iron.

Policy Landscape for Diet Diversity in India

Diets have become predominantly based on starchy staples as a result of selectively subsidised cereal crops following the green revolution, with little animal products, fresh fruits, and vegetables. This has resulted in an increased burden of malnutrition along with rising micronutrient deficiency. Diet diversity was found to be dependent upon four major factors: availability, affordability, awareness, and utilisation. There is an urgent need to shift food systems and policies for a healthier and nutrient-adequate diet.

Drivers of Child Nutritional Change in India

A trend analysis is undertaken to account for the child nutritional change in India by covering 25 years of the National Family Health Surveys from 1992–93 to 2015–16. The 34% overtime decline in child undernutrition has been possible mainly because of the improvement in parental education, household economic status, coverage in immunisation, and reproductive healthcare. However, the onus has shifted towards education and economic status. The combined share of contribution to the nutritional change has increased from 48.4% to 71% between 1992–93 to 2005–06 and 2005–06 to 2015–16. While there has been a saturation of persistent government interventions for immunisation, antenatal care, and institutional delivery, education and economic status have become stronger predictors. They ensure better childcare practices, sanitation, proper diet, and access to healthcare. Therefore, the future of child nutrition lies largely in the improvement of quality education and inclusive economic development.

Deciphering the Indian Slip on the Global Hunger Index 2021

The Indian slip on the Global Hunger Index 2021 is being attributed by the government to the alleged methodological discrepancies involved in constructing the GHI. This article, to begin with, counters the government’s argument defending India’s position on the GHI. It further finds that India likely has been undergoing a decline in food security since the mid-2000s itself. The trend is corroborated from the 2019–20 data available for selected states. Though COVID-19 has compounded the food insecurity challenges, India’s position on the GHI cannot be attributed to the pandemic alone. Rather, it reflects a trend that India has been experiencing for sometime now.

Biofortification

Biofortification refers to the increase in the amount of essential vitamins or provitamins or minerals in crops to improve the nutritional status of the people. The article argues that biofortification may not be an effective weapon to fight against the hidden hunger since it demonstrates limited capacity for nutritional enhancement and suggests a couple of alternatives.

Misconceived Measures for Malnutrition

The recent Government of India recommendation for monthly length/height measurements by anganwadi workers promises to be a disaster in its current form and might lead to a severe derailing of the existing system of data collection and management, leading to further chaos and misreporting on malnutrition.

Can Biofortified Crops Reduce Malnutrition in Bihar?

There was a high prevalence of malnutrition among over a hundred children who suffered and succumbed to acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) in Muzaffarpur in 2019. Central and state governments were criticised for not doing enough to reduce the impact of the outbreak and, more generally, the prevalence of malnutrition among low-income groups. Biofortified projects can offer a method to achieve greater food security. These projects can be implemented effectively by making changes to pre-existing food security schemes at the level of procurement, distribution, and delivery.

Child Undernutrition in India

The child undernutrition estimates from the Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey, 2016–18 reveal that many Indian states have made substantial decline, reversing their poor past record in wasting, ranging from 7 to 14 percentage points within just 30 months. Is it really possible to make such a large decline in such a short span of time? Or, does this point to an anomaly in data or estimation?

What Is the Effective Delivery Mechanism of Food Support in India?

The public distribution system is the cornerstone of anti-poverty initiatives in India to address the issue of hunger and malnutrition, but is plagued with leakages and corruption. Though several possible reasons account for these problems, one factor that is generally overlooked is the lack of assessment of the preference of the beneficiaries in terms of product portfolio, selection, and delivery mechanisms. Through a mixed methods analysis across Bihar, Odisha and (eastern) Uttar Pradesh, this paper assesses the factors explaining the diversity in the preference for the delivery mechanism. What would be a straightforward choice problem among delivery mechanisms turns out to be far more intricate when mediated by contextual heterogeneity and unequal power relations at different levels. The results highlight the centrality of demand and build a case for demand assessment in improving the effectiveness of the system.

Hidden Hunger, Burdened Women

Reminiscent of poverty debates, serious undernutrition in India risks becoming a measurement quibble, unless we talk about unequal development gains and the answerability of governments towards less empowered citizens. Based on the simple counting of food consumed by 240 households and conversations with women, this article explores the contrast between local knowledge of what constitutes a “good diet” and the deficient meals consumed by people in Odisha, a state in eastern India. Effective interventions need to look beyond “maternal responsibility” and address entitlement uncertainties and gender inequality, in order to ensure essential nutrition and good health of vulnerable groups such as women and children.

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