[oped of the day] For a wider food menu


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Hunger Index

Mains level : India - Malnutrition

Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. This will cover a key issue that came in the news and for which students must pay attention. This will also take care of certain key issues students have to cover in respective GS papers.


The Prime Minister announced in Mann Ki Baat address that September is to be observed as ‘Rashtriya Poshan Maah’. He urged people to support the government’s nutrition campaign to ensure a healthier future for women and children. 

State of malnutrition

    • Across income strata – Both poor and affluent families are affected by malnutrition due to lack of awareness.
    • Decline – Efforts by the government have led to a decline in malnutrition by 2% per annum. 
    • Leading cause of death – According to the 2017 Global Burden of Disease Study by the University of Washington, malnutrition is among the leading causes of death and disability in India, followed by dietary risks including poor diet choices. 
    • Large no of undernourished – FAO estimates that 194.4 million people in India, about 14.5% of the total population, are undernourished. 
    • Global Hunger Index 2018 – it ranks India 103 out of 119 countries on the basis of three leading indicators: 
      • the prevalence of wasting and stunting in children under five years of age
      • child mortality rate under five years of age
      • the proportion of undernourished in the population

Poshan Abhiyaan

    • Flagship program – aims to improve nutritional outcomes for children, adolescents, pregnant women, and lactating mothers.
    • An integrated approach – It is an amalgamation of scientific principles, political fortitude, and technical ingenuity. 
    • Zero Hunger – The key nutrition interventions and strategies contribute to the targets of the World Health Assembly for nutrition and the SDGs on “zero hunger”.

Zero Hunger – challenges

    • Dimensions of malnutrition – Achieving zero hunger requires not only addressing hunger, but also the associated aspect of malnutrition. 
    • Healthy diet – Healthy diets are an integral element of food and nutrition security. Food consumption patterns have changed and resulted in the disappearance of many nutritious native foods such as millets. 
    • Foodgrain productionWhile foodgrain production has increased over five times since Independence, it has not sufficiently addressed the issue of malnutrition. 
    • The focus of agriculture on staplesAgriculture sector focused on increasing food production, particularly staples, which led to lower production and consumption of indigenous traditional crops/grains, fruits, and other vegetables.  
    • Food monotony – FAO’s work has demonstrated that dependence on a few crops has negative consequences for ecosystems, food diversity and health. Food monotony increases the risk of micronutrient deficiency. 
    • Overreliance on a few staple crops coupled with low dietary diversity is a leading cause of persistent malnutrition. 
    • Intensive monoculture agricultural practices can perpetuate the food and nutrition security problem by degrading the quality of land, water and the food derived through them.
    • Lifestyles in cities pose other dietary problems. 
    • Urban food planning needs to incorporate nutritional security and climate resilience.

Agricultural biodiversity 

    • It ensures a wider food menu to choose from. 
    • Small farmers, livestock and seed keepers in India are on the front-line of conserving the unique agrobiodiversity of the country. 
    • The loss of globally significant species and genetic diversity has an adverse impact on diets.
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