Hunger and Nutrition Issues – GHI, GNI, etc.

Jul, 09, 2019

[pib] Coffee Table Book for partnership between India and the UN World Food Programme


  • Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare has launched a Coffee Table Book today to commemorate five decades of partnership between the Ministry and the UN World Food Programme towards addressing food and nutritional security in India.

Coffee Table Book

  • The Book showcases key milestones achieved by the Government of India in its efforts to make the nation free from hunger and malnutrition and WFP’s role in this endeavour.
  • Some of the major turning points in India’s journey towards food and nutrition security captured in the book include the Green Revolution, the White revolution, improvements in livestock and dairy development and digitization of food safety nets.

About World Food Programme

  • The World Food Programme (WFP) is the food-assistance branch of the United Nations.
  • It is the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security.
  • According to the WFP, it provides food assistance to an average of 91.4 million people in 83 countries each year.
  • From its headquarters in Rome and from more than 80 country offices around the world, the WFP works to help people who cannot produce or obtain enough food for themselves and their families.
  • It is a member of the United Nations Development Group and part of its executive committee.
Mar, 26, 2019

World Food Programme


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: WFP

Mains level: Not Much


  • Japan has donated 69 million dollars to the United Nations World Food Programme to provide vital aid to 28 countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, with the biggest shares of the money earmarked for Yemen and Iraq.
  • Japan is one of WFP’s top donors and has contributed $$958 million to the UN agency since 2014.

About World Food Programme

  • The World Food Programme (WFP) is the food-assistance branch of the United Nations and the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security.
  • From its headquarters in Rome and from more than 80 country offices around the world, the WFP works to help people who cannot produce or obtain enough food for themselves and their families.
  • It is a member of the United Nations Development Group and part of its executive committee.
  • WFP has been working in India since 1963, with work transitioning from food distribution to technical assistance since the country achieved self-sufficiency in cereal production.
Dec, 05, 2018

[op-ed snap] Stunted, wasted: on Global Nutrition Report 2018


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to poverty & hunger

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Global Nutrition Report 2018, FAO, El Niño

Mains level: Trend in undernourishment across India and the world


Undernourishment rising

  1. The health, longevity and well-being of Indians have improved since Independence, and the high levels of economic growth over the past two-and-half-decades have made more funds available to spend on the social sector
  2. Yet, the reality is that a third of the world’s stunted children under five — an estimated 46.6 million who have low height for age — live in India. A quarter of the children display wasting (that is, low weight for height) as well
  3. As the Global Nutrition Report 2018 points out, this finding masks the wide variation in stunting levels in different parts of the country
  4. A decade-long phenomenon of the number of undernourished people in the world falling between 2003 and 2014, both in absolute terms (from 961.5 million to 783.7 million) and relative to total population (from 15.1% to 10.7%), has reversed during the last three years
  5. According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, the world’s population suffering from hunger — the food they consume isn’t sufficient to provide the minimum dietary energy requirement for leading a normal, active and healthy life — rose to 784.4 million in 2015, 804.2 million in 2016 and 820.8 million in 2017

Role of agri prices

  1. The reversal of a prolonged declining trend in world hunger has come despite a collapse in international agri-commodity prices after 2014
  2. Ironically, throughout the period of rising food prices from 2003 to 2011, global hunger numbers kept dipping
  3. Using sophisticated simulation models and econometric tools, it has been shown that the increase in food prices during the last decade benefited the rural poor and “likely contributed to faster global poverty reduction from the mid-2000s onward”
  4. Conversely, the recent decline in agricultural prices could retard global poverty reduction
  5. Sustained high prices can stimulate production, leading to increased farm incomes
  6. It may result in a higher demand for unskilled agricultural labour, raising overall rural wages as well
  7. The only losers in the bargain would be the urban poor

Factors affecting hunger

  • The first is the displacement of civilian population and food insecurity resulting from conflicts
  1. Roughly 500 million out of the world’s 821 million undernourished people live in conflict-ridden regions such as West Asia, North and northern sub-Saharan Africa, Central America and Eastern Europe
  2. Violent conflicts, both state-based and between organised armed groups, have increased dramatically, especially after 2010
  • The second is climate variations (in temperature and rainfall) and extremes (leading to droughts, heat waves, floods, storms, etc)
  1. The 2015-16 El Niño — the abnormal warming of the equatorial eastern Pacific Ocean waters, known to adversely impact monsoon rainfall in countries such as India — was one of the strongest events of the past 100 years
  2. It also contributed to 2016 being the warmest and 2015 the second warmest year based on recorded global average temperatures
  3. The six warmest years for the planet have all occurred since 2010

The effects of conflicts and climate-related disasters, if any, would be mainly on agricultural production and supply, in turn, driving up commodity prices

Instead, the world has been awash with wheat, corn, rice, soyabean, palm oil, sugar, cotton, milk and almost every other agri-commodity

The story of the last four years, both globally and in India, has been one of glut and depressed price realisation for farmers

  • This has to do with the general economic slowdown and commodity prices (whether agri, oil or metals) themselves falling
  1. These result in lower fiscal revenues and foreign exchange earnings for commodity exporting countries, whose governments, then, have less money to spend on welfare programmes
  2. That — and the fact of poor households also often being producers and now realising lower prices or wages — is a plausible reason for hunger making a comeback even in peaceful settings amidst over-supply of agri-commodities

Interventions required in India

  1. Among the factors affecting the quantity and quality of nutrition are maternal education, age at marriage, antenatal care, children’s diet and household size
  2. Now that mapping of malnutrition at the district level is available, as in the Global Nutrition Report, it is incumbent on State governments to address these determining factors
  3. India should invest more of its economic prosperity in its welfare system, without binding itself in restrictive budgetary formulations

Way forward

  1.  The Economic Survey 2017-18 put social services spending at 6.6% of GDP, an insignificant rise after a marginal decline from the 6% band during the previous year to 5.8%
  2. The latest report on stunting and wasting should convince the Centre that it needs to understand the problem better and work with the States to give India’s children a healthy future

With inputs from the article: Explained: Why number of hungry is rising

Nov, 15, 2018

[op-ed snap] Setting a proper diet plan


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to poverty & hunger

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Global Hunger Index

Mains level: Problem of child malnutrition in India & interventions that can be made to reduce it


Hunger growing in India

  1. Despite being one of the fastest growing economies in the world, India has been ranked at 103 out of 119 countries in the Global Hunger Index 2018
  2. The hunger levels have been  categorised as “serious”

Children suffering from malnutrition

  1. India’s child malnourishment level is not only the highest in the world but varies considerably across States
  2. Growing prosperity has hardly made any significant dent in chronic malnutrition of children
  3. India is home to over 53.3 million stunted, 49.6 million underweight and 29.2 million wasted (low weight for height) children under five
  4. 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
  5. The underweight (low weight for age) children rate (35.7%) is a lot higher than the global average (13.5%) too

Growth-oriented development not a solution

  1. The problem lies with the current thinking of growth-oriented development
  2. Although the low income and Empowered-Action-Group (EAG) States face major challenges to improve malnutrition, two EAG States, Chhattisgarh and Odisha, have performed better on this front compared to Gujarat and Maharashtra where per capita income is almost double
  3. 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
  4. 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 with Gujarat
  5. Tribals, rural, poor and illiterate mothers’ children are worse off in so-called developed States of Haryana, Gujarat and Punjab
  6. Around two-thirds of stunted/underweight children are from 200 districts of both less developed and developed States

The link between agricultural growth and nutrition

  1. There is a contradiction between agrarian plenty and malnutrition
  2. Malnutrition continues to be high in agricultural surplus States like Haryana (34% stunting and 29.5% underweight)
  3. 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 (41.9%)

Diversity in food intake required

  1. With the increase in diversity in food intake, measured through Food Intake Index using 19 food items in all 640 districts, malnutrition (stunted/underweight) status declines
  2. Only 12% of children are likely to be stunted and underweight in areas where diversity in food intake is high, while around 50% children are stunted if they consume less than three food items
  3. A majority of children across districts in Tamil Nadu consume a reasonably highly diversified food, leading to lower percentage of stunted/underweight children across districts
  4. The diversified food intake is very low in a majority of Indian districts; just 28% of children consumed over five items of the total 19 food items

Steps that can be taken

  1. 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 important steps
  2. The ICDS was a high impact nutrition intervention, but its universal availability and quality are questionable due to poor functioning
  3. The government must broaden the ICDS programme by ensuring diversity in food items in worst-hit districts

Way forward

  1. 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
  2. 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
Oct, 19, 2018

[op-ed snap] Nutrition On My Plate


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to poverty & hunger

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Nutrition Mission (NNM) – Poshan Abhiyan

Mains level: The need for enabling agriculture extensions via NNM


National Nutrition Mission

  1. India’s flagship programme to improve nutritional outcomes for children, adolescents, pregnant women and lactating mothers, the National Nutrition Mission (NNM) or the Poshan Abhiyan, reflects an amalgamation of scientific principles, political fortitude and technical ingenuity
  2. The key nutrition interventions and strategies, which form the core of NNM, contribute to the targets of the World Health Assembly for nutrition and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), dedicating Goal 2 to the challenge of meeting “zero hunger”

Importance of nutrition

  1. Good nutrition is critical to averting the irreversible cumulative growth and development deficits
  2. It contributes towards improving maternal and child health, learning outcomes, adult productivity and strengthening gender equality

Agriculture sector not included in the program

  1. Nutrition security is inextricably linked to food and agriculture, yet, the agriculture sector does not clearly fall within the scope of the Abhiyan
  2. There are areas where the sector could support the Abhiyan and help to achieve its objectives
  3. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations can support ongoing NNM efforts related to dietary diversity through agricultural diversification and sustainable intensification, thus making the agriculture and food system more nutrition-sensitive, climate-resilient and socio-economically viable simultaneously

Nutrition security ignored

  1. Today, globally, 821 million people suffer chronic undernourishment of which 196 million reside in India, according to ‘The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018’ report
  2. The agriculture sector focused on increasing food production — particularly staples, which led to lower production and consumption of indigenous traditional crops/grains, fruits and other vegetables, impacting food and nutrition security in the process
  3. The twin burden of malnutrition — that is, undernutrition, along with overweight and obesity, coexists in many countries and its cost to the global economy is equivalent to $3.5 trillion a year

Enabling agricultural extension

  1. The time is opportune for agricultural interventions such as increasing the production of targeted nutrition-rich crops (nutri-cereals), homestead gardens, and diversification of the agricultural production system towards fruits, vegetables and aquaculture, to address the adverse effects of malnutrition
  2. With the Poshan Abhiyan advocating the “Triple A” approach, that is building the capacity of ASHA, Anganwadi Worker (AWW) and Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) workers, there is an opportunity to leverage the agriculture extension services in the country
  3. The extension workers have a direct and ongoing contact with smallholder farmers
  4. They can be the agents of change for nutritional intervention by leveraging modern technologies to impart nutrition-linked messages for bringing about sustainable behaviour change towards food and nutrition
  5. UN agencies such as FAO can provide support to foster research on areas such as bio-fortification of crops, enhancing production diversity including the coarse grains/millets and food safety

Way forward

  1. The Poshan Abhiyan presents an opportunity for inter-sectoral collaboration that can amplify collective actions to improve nutrition indicators and achieve the goal of “zero hunger” in the country
  2. Agriculture is not merely an activity to make “food” available to the people but also a means of achieving complete nutrition for the citizens of this country
Oct, 12, 2018

21% Indian children are under-weight: Global Hunger Index


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Global Hunger Index

Mains level: India’s consistently unchanged performance to its previous level against child malnutrition is a cause of concern.


Global Hunger Index 2018

  1. India has been ranked at 103 out of 119 countries in the Global Hunger Index 2018, with hunger levels in the country categorized as “serious”.
  2. At least one in five Indian children under the age of five is wasted, says the report.
  3. The only country with a higher prevalence of child wasting is the war-torn nation of South Sudan.
  4. India’s ranking has dropped three places from last year, although the Index says its results are not accurately comparable from year to year and instead provides a few reference years for comparable data.
  5. The 2018 scores reflect data from 2013-2017.

About the report

  1. The report terms hunger and forced migration for the severity worldwide.
  2. The report is a peer-reviewed publication released annually by Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide.
  3. The International Food Policy Research Institute was also involved with the publication until this year.

Four Main Indicators

The GHI scores are based on a formula that captures three dimensions of hunger—insufficient caloric intake, child undernutrition, and child mortality—using four component indicators:

  1. UNDERNOURISHMENT: the share of the population that is under-nourished, reflecting insufficient caloric intake
  2. CHILD WASTING: the share of children under the age of five who are wasted (low weight-for-height), reflecting acute undernutrition.
  3. CHILD STUNTING: the share of children under the age of five who are stunted (low height-for-age), reflecting chronic undernutrition
  4. CHILD MORTALITY: the mortality rate of children under the age of five

India’s Overall Performance

  1. India has shown improvement in three of the indicators over the comparable reference years.
  2. The percentage of undernourished people in the population has dropped from 18.2% in 2000 to 14.8% in 2018.
  3. The child mortality rate has halved from 9.2% to 4.3%, while child stunting has dropped from 54.2% to 38.4% over the same period.
  4. However, the prevalence of child wasting has actually worsened in comparison to previous reference years.
  5. It stood at 17.1% in 2000, and increased to 20% in 2005. In 2018, it stands at 21%. South Sudan’s child wasting prevalence is at 28%.

Other highlights of the report

  1. Child wasting is high across South Asia, constituting a “critical public health emergency”, according to UN organisations.
  2. The report notes that wasting rates are highest for infants aged 0 to 5 months, suggesting that attention to birth outcomes and breastfeeding is important.
  3. Also, child wasting in the region is associated with a low maternal body mass index, suggesting the need for a focus on the nutritional status of the mother during pregnancy.
  4. Factors that could reduce child stunting in South Asia include increased consumption of non-staple foods, access to sanitation, women’s education, access to safe water, gender equality, and national food availability.

Way Forward

  1. Globally, the level of hunger still falls into the “serious” category, despite improvement over the last two decades.
  2. The Index projects that at the current rate of progress, 50 countries will fail to reach the “low” hunger category by 2030.
  3. This puts the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 2, which aims to end hunger by 2030, in jeopardy.

To read the short and concise synopsis of the report, navigate to this page:

Global Hunger Index

Aug, 30, 2018

Monitoring of nutrition to go hi-tech in Rajasthan


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Nutrition Month

Mains level: States strategies for countering malnutrition and related problems.


Smartphone based monitoring in Rajasthan

  1. Monitoring of nutrition and health-related services in the Anganwadi centres will go hi-tech in Rajasthan during September, observed as a “nutrition month”.
  2. With the mobile applications replacing the manual observation methods, smartphones will be supplied to all Anganwadi centres in the State to ensure success of nutrition programmes.

Boosting NNM implementation

  1. Rajasthan plans to implement NNM with a vision document for 2022, which is under formulation.
  2. This is to ensure convergence of work by all stakeholders for improving nutrition levels of women and children and reducing under-nutrition and low birth weight by 2% each year.
  3. The free milk distribution in schools for the students of Classes I to VIII along with the midday meals was also extended from three days to all days in the week.
  4. The declaration of September as a “nutrition month” forms part of the strategies for addressing the issue of under-nutrition and stunting.
Aug, 18, 2018

[op-ed snap] No child left behind


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to poverty & hunger

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Poshan abhiyaan, Global Hunger Index (GHI), Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), mid-day meals (MDM), Public Distribution System (PDS),

Mains level: Persistent malnutrition among children in India & solutions to this problem


Poor nutrition among children in India

  1. 25% of India’s children less than 5 years old are still malnourished
  2. NFHS-4 in 2015-16 (the latest available information), to the Global Nutrition Report 2016 and the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2017, which ranks India at 100 out of 119 countries all confirm low nutrition among children in India
  3. Among children less than 5 years, wasting (low weight for height), continues to be 21% in the 2017 index — it was 20% in 1992
  4. 190.7 million people in India sleep hungry every night, and over half of adolescent girls and women are anaemic

Proposed measures

  1. The recently announced flagship program of the Ministry of Women and Child Development will be anchored through the National Nutrition Mission (NNM), or Poshan Abhiyaan
  2. NITI Aayog has worked on a National Nutrition Strategy (NNS), isolated the 100 most backward districts for stunting and prioritised those for interventions
  3. The National Nutrition Strategy (NNS) has set very ambitious targets for 2022 and the Poshan Abhiyaan has also specified three-year targets to reduce stunting, under-nutrition and low birth weight by 2% each year, and to reduce anaemia by 3% each year

What is required to curb malnutrition

  1. Altering the fundamentals of poor nutrition requires multiple and sustained interventions over a period of time — increased availability and accessibility of nutritious food, potable water, hygiene and sanitation, primary health care, etc
  2. The challenge for India is to simultaneously address insufficient and poor diets, inadequate hygiene and sanitation and better management of disease and infections

Approach that can be followed

  • Adequately re-engineer the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), mid-day meals (MDM) and Public Distribution System (PDS) for greater effectiveness
  1. This is an ideal initiative for public-private partnerships as the strength of good private sector companies is in creating and designing frameworks, structures, processes and metrics for action, implementation and tracking
  2. Involving the best nutritionists to work with local communities on calorie and nutrition dense supplementary foods, using easily available local ingredients that are within the ICDS and MDM budget guidelines
  3. Products produced by self-help groups could easily be anchored by the relevant private sector and development agencies, working with State governments, and considered a corporate social responsibility initiative
  4. The key advantages of this disaggregated supply model are that it engages local communities, generates employment and ensures minimal leakage as it works with and inside the community
  5. This will also ensure that space and other constraints of lack of hygiene at Anganwadi Centres do not become impediments in the supply of nutritious food
  • To mandate and scale staple food fortification comprising edible oil, wheat, rice and dairy products, in addition to salt
  1. There is persuasive evidence from several countries of the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of large-scale staple food fortification to address “hidden hunger” or micro-nutrient deficiencies
  2. The success of micro-nutrient fortified food is that it does not entail a change in behaviour
  3. A case in point is the mandate of July and August 2017 to use fortified oil, salt and wheat flour in the ICDS and MDM by the Ministries of Women and Child Development and Human Resource Development, respectively
  • Multiple campaigns designed to inform, communicate and educate on nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive behaviours
  1. These behaviours include breastfeeding, diet diversity, hand-washing, de-worming, safe drinking water, hygiene and sanitation
  2. Nutrition has to be “marketed” and made interesting, engaging, simple and personally relevant
  3. Nutrition is complex, and therefore its delivery must be simplified through greater awareness and actions

Way Forward

  1. Unless economic growth improves social and human development, it cannot be sustained
  2. Equally, economic growth itself is impeded by low levels of productivity in an under-nourished and malnourished population
  3. Exploring new models to address the structural and systemic issues on a priority basis, learning from what has worked or not, and single-minded focus on implementation will be critical to delivering better nutritional outcomes and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, to which India is a signatory
Jun, 22, 2018

World’s hungry population on the rise again, says UN report


Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies & fora, their structure, mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Sustainable Development Goals

Mains level: Read the attached story


Conflicts, climate change are main hurdles in meeting SDGs

  1. The number of hungry people in the world has risen for the first time in more than a decade, according to a United Nations report released.
  2. There are now approximately 38 million more undernourished people in the world, rising from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016, the year for which the latest statistics are available.
  3. According to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 2018 report, conflict is now one of the main drivers of food insecurity in 18 countries.
  4. Violent conflicts also led to the forced displacement of a record high 68.5 million in 2017.

SDGs at risk

  1. Noting the increasing impact of extreme events related to a changing climate, the report said economic losses attributed to disasters were estimated at over $300 billion in 2017.
  2. While there is little country-specific data in the report, it does examine the performance of various regions in meeting the 17 SDGs, which were adopted by UN member nations in 2015. The deadline to meet them is 2030.
  3. South Asia, which includes India, has seen child marriage rates plunge, with a girl’s risk of getting married in childhood dropping by 40% from 2000 to 2017.
  4. On the other hand, water stress levels for many countries in the region are above 70%, indicating fast-approaching water scarcity.
  5. More than nine out of 10 people living in urban areas around the world are breathing polluted air, with southern Asia scoring the worst in this area.
  6. While electricity and sanitation deficits in south Asia are still poor, the report noted efforts are being made to close the gap.

Sense of urgency

  1. With just 12 years left to the 2030 deadline, we must inject a sense of urgency said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in the foreword to the report.
  2. Achieving the 2030 Agenda requires accelerated actions by countries along with collaborative partnerships among governments and stakeholders at all levels.
  3. This ambitious agenda necessitates profound change that goes beyond business as usual.


Sustainable Development Goals

  1. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations in 2015 and are to be achieved by 2030.
  2. The SDGs cover social and economic development issues including poverty, hunger, health, education, climate change, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy, urbanization, environment and social justice.
  3. The formal name for the SDGs is: “Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” That has been shortened to “2030 Agenda”.
  4. The resolution is a broad intergovernmental agreement that acts as the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
  5. This was a non-binding agreement as a result of Rio+20 Conference held in 2012.
  6. NITI Aayog is set up in line with attaining these SDGs.
May, 08, 2018

India gets $200 million loan for nutrition mission


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the mission

Mains level: Aim of the mission. And importance of this loan.


Agreement with the World Bank

  1. India has signed an agreement with the World Bank for a $200 million loan for implementing the National Nutrition Mission across 315 districts of the country

Aim of the mission

  1. The mission aims at reaching 10 crore beneficiaries, mainly children upto the age of six years, pregnant women and lactating mothers and adolescent girls
  2. The programme will be implemented in three phases between 2017 and 2020 across all districts of the country
  3. The mission targets a 2% reduction in both under-nutrition and low birth weight per annum
  4. It also aims to bring down anaemia among young children, women and adolescent girls by 3% per year until 2020
  5. The government will also strive to reduce the prevalence of stunting from the current level of 38.4% (as per the National Family Health Survey 4) to 25% by 2022

Budgetary provisions

  1. The National Nutrition Mission has an approved budget of Rs. 9,046.17 crore
  2. The total contribution of the Centre will be Rs. 2,849.54 crore and nearly Rs. 1,700 crore will be contributed by the States
  3. The remaining will be funded through the government’s tie-up with multilateral agencies such as the World Bank
Apr, 30, 2018

[op-ed snap] Food first: Addressing poor child nutrition


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Poshan Abhiyaan, ICDS scheme, etc.(read the attached story)

Mains level: Recently, the National Council on India’s Nutrition Challenges has overruled the Minister for Women and Child Development, who proposed distribution of packaged nutrients to beneficiaries. Providing nutritious food to children is an important task undertaken by the government. Very important for Mains Paper.
The newscard discusses some of the crucial concerns related to it.



  1. There is no substitute for hot-cooked meals to address poor child nutrition
  2. The central principle that should guide the Centre in improving maternal and child nutrition is that early childhood is the foundation for the health and well-being of an individual

Cause of concern: In providing factory made rations

  1. Any Change with the existing national programme of providing hot-cooked meals to children three to six years old,
  2. and take-home rations for younger children and pregnant and lactating mothers is fraught with danger
  3. Attempts to substitute meals or rations with factory-made nutrients will inject commercialisation into a key mission, and upset the nutritional basis of the scheme

Good sense has prevailed, and the newly-formed inter-ministerial National Council on India’s Nutrition Challenges has chosen to continue the current practice

More focus is needed for better implementation of the Anganwadi Services Scheme(or the ICDS)

  1. to achieve better outcomes, it must focus on the provision of physical infrastructure and funding, besides closer monitoring of the nutrition mission

Ground reality is different from official data

  1. Centre has acknowledged that while official data show a reduction in some of the depressing aspects of women and child health, the ground reality is far from comforting
  2. The National Family Health Survey-4 shows a drop in underweight and stunted children under five years of age compared to the previous survey, but the absolute numbers are still high
  3. An estimated 35.7% children are underweight and 38.4% are stunted in that age group. The body mass index of 22.9% women aged 15-49 indicates chronic energy deficiency
  4. These figures should cause alarm that even after a long period of robust economic growth, India has not achieved a transformation

What should be done?

  1. To accelerate the pace of progress, POSHAN Abhiyaan should rigorously measure levels of access and quality of nutrition, and publish the data periodically
  2. It should be pointed out that NFHS data show several States performing worse than the national average
  3. In a recent report, Nourishing India , the NITI Aayog refers to acute malnutrition levels of about 25% in some States


Poshan Abhiyaan

  1. POSHAN Abhiyaan was launched on 8th March 2018 by the Prime Minister in Jhunjhunu
  2. The Abhiyaan targets to reduce stunting, under-nutrition, anemia (among young children, women and adolescent girls) and reduce low birth weight by 2%, 2%, 3% and 2% per annum respectively
  3. The target of the mission is to bring down stunting among children in the age group 0-6 years from 38.4% to 25% by 2022
Apr, 28, 2018

Nutrition council rejects Maneka Gandhi’s proposal to replace anganwadi rations with nutrient packages


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the ICDS scheme, National Nutrition Mission, etc.

Mains level: Complement this newscard with Cabinet nod to nutrition mission and [op-ed snap] Nutritional politics: There is no agreement on what to feed children in anganwadis 


The council has rejected the proposal

  1. The National Council on India’s Nutrition Challenges has rejected Woman and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi’s longstanding, much-debated proposal to provide packaged nutrients
  2. The Minister wanted to replace the existing take-home rations across 14 lakh-odd anganwadis in the country
  3. Over the last couple of years, the minister has been trying to push her plan to provide factory-made bar-coded nutrient packages through post offices
  4. and do away with the system of providing take-home rations through aganwadis

About the council

  1. This was the first meeting of the council since it was formed and given the mandate to handle the Union government’s recently launched National Nutrition Mission through inter-ministerial interventions

Possible reason behind the rejection

  1. The decision emphasised the need to ensure that children and women get nutritious food through ICDS and warned against the move to go for processed foods, which have been linked to rise in non-communicable diseases
  2. It is held that packaged food would also mark a shift to centralised control by private contractors, which has been banned by the Supreme Court

What now?

  1. The decision puts to an end a long-drawn disagreement between Maneka and NITI Aayog, with the former batting for packaged nutrients and the latter wanting to substitute food with cash given to beneficiaries through direct benefit transfer
  2. In a small victory for the NITI Aayog, the Council has given the go-ahead for it to initiate cash transfer schemes on a pilot basis in 10 districts

About the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)

  1. Under the existing Supplementary Nutrition component of ICDS scheme run through anganwadi centres, (1) infants under three years and (2) pregnant and lactating mothers are given take-home rations while three- to six-year-olds are fed hot cooked meals
  2. It is aimed at preventing child-maternal mortality and child malnutrition
Apr, 27, 2018

[op-ed snap] Nutritional politics: There is no agreement on what to feed children in anganwadis


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Family Health Survey

Mains level: The newscard briefly discusses the issues related to malnutrition.



  1. Many children have died of malnutrition in India and yet Women and Child Development Ministers over the years haven’t decided what food to give children in anganwadis
  2. This is worrying

Data on malnutrition should serve as a wake-up call for the government

  1.  38% of children are stunted and 35.7% are underweight in India
  2. About 21% of children under the age of five are wasted (low weight for height), according to the National Family Health Survey-4 data

Important question

  1.  Is it really that difficult to keep a close watch on the quality of food served to children between the ages of three and six as well as take-home ration for pregnant and lactating women?

Opting for easy option

  1. This government and last government(of the UPA) have always exercised the easy option: dense, fortified food for malnourished children, courtesy the manufacturers

The Ministry of Women and Child Development is considering a new option

  1. The ministry is now favoring a quickly served, nutrients-fortified alternative
  2. While officers of the Ministry are batting for take-home rations that are locally available and processed
  3. It is an old debate; one that involves big biscuit-makers and assorted corn puff manufacturers on the one hand and social activists on the other, with children caught in between

Learning from the past

  1. Eight years ago, when malnutrition deaths occurred in some districts in Maharashtra, a simple solution involving a protein-rich diet called Lapsi  was given to malnourished babies
    (Lapsi: a green millet mixture combined with water and milk)
  2. In Jharkhand, dry rations such as oil, dal, wheat or rice were given to mothers
    (until the contractor lobby forced the government to shift in favour of processed food)
  3. These solutions were very effective

Possible solution

  1. We should address malnourishment through locally produced, diverse food options that the country offers


National Family Health Survey (NFHS)

  1. The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) is a large-scale, multi-round survey conducted in a representative sample of households throughout India
  2. All National Family Health Surveys have been conducted under the stewardship of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, with the International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai, serving as the nodal agency
  3. ICF International (formerly Macro International), Maryland, USA, provided technical assistance for all four surveys conducted as on date
Dec, 25, 2017

[pib] Global Hunger Index


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to poverty & hunger.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Global Hunger Index, Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), National Food Security Act, 2013, Mid-Day Meal Scheme, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme, Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls, Annapurna Scheme, National Nutrition Mission

Mains level: India’s poor performance in GHI and ways to improve position in coming years


  1. As per 2017 Global Hunger Index (GHI) Report, published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), India ranks 100 out 119 countries.

GHI scores are based on four indicators as follows:

  1. Undernourishment: the share of the population that is undernourished (that is, whose caloric intake is insufficient);
  2. Child wasting: the share of children under the age of five who are wasted (that is, who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute under-nutrition);
  3. Child stunting: the share of children under the age of five who are stunted (that is, who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic under-nutrition); and
  4. Child mortality: the mortality rate of children under the age of five (in part, a reflection of the mix of inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environments)

Government interventions for tackling the problem of hunger in the country and to improve the position in GHI

  1. Provision of foodgrains at highly subsidized prices to the targeted population through State Governments/ UT Administrations under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) in terms of National Food Security Act, 2013 and Other Welfare Schemes (OWS) such as Mid-Day Meal Scheme, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme, Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls, Annapurna Scheme etc.
  2. National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013 provides for coverage of up to 70% of the rural and up to 50% of the urban population thus covering about two-thirds of the population, for receiving foodgrains at highly subsidized prices of Rs.3, 2 and 1 per Kg. for rice, wheat and coarse grain respectively under TPDS
  3. The Act also has a special focus on nutritional support to women and children.
  4. Recently National Nutrition Mission has been approved under MWCD for addressing malnutrition status of the country in a comprehensive manner
Dec, 02, 2017

Cabinet nod to nutrition mission


Mains Paper2: Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: National Nutrition Mission, A question regarding this mission was also asked in UPSC Prelims 2017.

Mains level:The news card discusses the National Nutrition Mission.



  • The Union Cabinet on Friday approved the launch of National Nutrition Mission with a target to reduce malnutrition and low birth weight by 2% each year.

 Why such a mission?

  • The core idea behind the mission is to converge all the existing programmes on a single platform. Because one ministry alone working in its own silo can’t achieve it.

National Nutrition Mission

  1. The mission targets to bring down stunting in children.
  2. As per the National Family Health Survey, 38.4% of children in India have stunted growth.
  3. The mission plans to bring this down to 25% by 2022.
  4. It also aims to bring down anaemia among young children, women and adolescent girls by 3% every year.
  5. The government has budgeted ₹9,046 crore for the mission for a period of three years.
  6. More than 10 crore people will be benefited by this programme.
  7. All the states and districts will be covered in a phased manner; to begin with the worst affected 315 districts will be targeted this financial year.

Aadhaar or no aadhaar?

  1. There remains confusion over whether or not Aadhaar is mandatory for all beneficiaries, many of who are children below the age of three years. Women and Child Development secretary said that it was mandatory, but no beneficiary would be denied benefits for the lack of Aadhaar card.
  2. The ministry, however, was not clear as for children below the age of five biometrics cannot be recorded.


Nov, 08, 2017

51% of Indian women are anaemic, reveals Global Nutrition Report


Mains Paper 1: Role of Women.

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: The Global Nutrition Report by IFPRI

Mains level: This news card lists the findings of the Global Nutrition Report, 2017.



The Global Nutrition Report

  1. India has the largest number of anaemic women in the world, with 51% of those aged between 15 and 49 years suffering from iron deficiency, according to Global Nutrition Report 2017.
  2. The anaemia figure quoted in the report is marginally better than the 53 per cent quoted in the National Family Health Survey 4 which analysed data from 2015-16.
  3. The report that looked at 140 countries.
  4. The country is followed by China, Pakistan, Nigeria and Indonesia.
    India also faces the double whammy of undernutrition on one hand and obesity on the other.
  5. While 38% of children under 5 are affected by stunting and 21% children in the same age group are defined as ‘wasted’ or ‘severely wasted’ (where their weight is not enough for their height), 16% of men and 22% of women (1 in 5) are overweight.
  6. The report has found ‘significant burdens’ of three major forms of malnutrition used as indicator of broader trends —childhood stunting which does irreversible damage to brain capacity, anaemia in women of reproductive age that can have long term health impacts for mother and child, and overweight women, a rising concern as women are disproportionately affected by the global obesity epidemic.
  7. According to the report, while India has shown some progress in addressing stunting among under-5 children, there is a long way to go in dealing with anaemic women of reproductive age and in reaching targets on reducing adult obesity and diabetes.
  8. The Global Nutrition Report highlights that the double burden of undernutrition and obesity needs to be tackled as part of the national nutrition strategy. For undernutrition especially, major efforts are needed to close the inequality gap.
  9. Overall, the report says 88% of countries face a serious burden of either two or three forms of malnutrition (childhood stunting, anaemia in women of reproductive age and/or overweight in adult women), with 815 million going to bed hungry, up from 777 million in 2015.
  10. One-third of people worldwide are overweight and obese, while over a staggering billion and a half suffer from anaemia and other micronutrient deficiencies.


  1. Ironically, donor funding for nutrition rose by just 2% in 2015, to $867 million, representing a slight fall in the overall percentage of global aid.
  2. The report says funding needs to be ‘turbo charged’ and calls for trebling of global investments in nutrition, to $70bn over 10 years to tackle childhood stunting, wasting and anemia and to increase breastfeeding rates.
  3. To help address malnutrition, the Global Nutrition Summit 2017 held in Milan, galvanized global aid to help reach these targets, which includes a pledge of $50 million over five years, by Tata Trusts, a philanthropic arm of Tata group.


  1. The report shows that despite steps taken by the world, nutrition is still a large-scale and universal problem.
  2. There is an urgent need for nutrition to be placed at the heart of all global efforts, be it to end poverty, fight disease, raise educational standards or/and tackle climate change, and hence it is key in enabling sustainable development.
  3. Poor nutrition elevates the risk of poverty, with 43% of children under 5 in low-and middle-income countries at an elevated risk of poverty because of stunting.
  4. Though undernutrition in children is decreasing, global progress has not been fast enough to meet internationally agreed nutrition goals, including the Sustainable Development Goals to end all forms of malnutrition by 2030.
Oct, 16, 2017

[op-ed snap] A black mark



Mains Paper 3: : Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.

Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Global Hunger Index

Mains level: Problem of hunger and malnourishment in India.
Discuss the learnings from the recently released GHI Report for improving the delivery of welfare schemes in India.




  1. The article discusses the recently released Global Hunger Index report. The article talks about India’s hunger problem and the way it impacts delivery of welfare services to the people.
  2. The GHI report is brought up by the International Food Policy Research Institute.


What is the scenario in India?

  1. India has slipped from 97th position last year to 100th position this year.
  2. Despite the fact that India has scaled up its Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme and the National Health Mission but they have yet not achieved adequate
  3. Confronting the country’s nutritional problems has never acquired adequate urgency in India.
  4. With more than a fifth of the country’s children under five suffering from “wasting” — low weight for height —India has made no progress, over the past 20 years, in arresting the problem.
  5. According to National Family Health Survey the proportion of children in the country suffering the problem has increased from 17 per cent in 1998-2002 to 21 per cent in 2012-2016. Whereas global prevalence of wasting is only 10 per cent.


Way forward-

  1. The continued poor performance in the Global Hunger Index should make the government introspect the shortcomings of this endeavour.
  2. The report also carries an important message for the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM): The project should not lose sight of the links between sanitation and nutrition.
  3. The government would do well to take note of the implications of the Global Hunger Index for its welfare schemes.



What is a Global Hunger Index?

 The GHI score is a multidimensional index composed of four indicators

  1. proportion of undernourished in the population,
  2. prevalence of child mortality,
  • child stunting, and
  • child wasting.

On the severity scale, a GHI score of less than 10 means “low” prevalence of hunger while a score of more than 50 implies an “extremely alarming” situation.

Apr, 03, 2015

The GAIN-Amway Malnutrition Mapping Project for India


  1. Major causes of childhood malnutrition – vitamin & mineral deficiencies, as well as sub-optimal breastfeeding practices.
  2. High proportion of anaemic women of reproductive age is linked to 62 % of children in the country showing insufficient vitamin A status.
  3. Several non-communicable diseases were associated with unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyles and obesity in India.


Insufficient vitamin A raises the risk of decreased immune function, increased morbidity and mortality and blindness.

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