Nutrition is India’s next biggest headache, says LiveMint.
In the 2019 Global Hunger Index, India ranks 102 out of 117 qualifying countries. Even Bangladesh at 88 and Pakistan at 94 perform better than India. In the aftermath of the pandemic, Oxfam estimates that an additional 100 million Indians are vulnerable to food distress. Those particularly hard hit are women and women-headed households.
This headache has been for a while which has been impacting lives and the economy. There were 706,000 deaths because of malnutrition, according to the statewide data on malnutrition by the Indian Council of Medical Research, PHFI, and the National Institute of Nutrition released in 2019.
One of the reasons has been our bias towards carbohydrates, very little intake of protein, and almost no fruits or vegetables. With no work and money, the diet of the migrant and marginal India has been boiled rice with salt. We are lucky to have debates between animal versus plant-based food diets.
While we are struggling to find a vaccine for the COVID19, hunger is the new pandemic in waiting. It is being projected that more than 132 million people could go hungry by the end of this year.
On contrary urban India has started taking a keen interest in a healthy lifestyle. According to a recent survey titled “Life in a Pandemic”: 80% are eating healthier and strictly home-cooked meals, according to the latest study by professional services firm EY.
“You are what you eat.”
Centered around this is the theme for National Nutrition Week 2020 - ‘Eat Right, Bite by Bite’. The first week of September in India is the National Nutrition Week which involves the government and other stakeholders taking initiatives around nutrition and the effects of good food with a healthy body, mind, and lifestyle.
To begin with, the initiative has been endorsed by Manushi Chhillar, winner of Miss World 2017 who took to Instagram to spread awareness. While it is not clear if she is an official representative(okay she is) but meanwhile the Ministry of Health has been focussing on nutrition awareness.
The rest of the month is also dedicated to nutrition but under the banner of Poshan Maah - an initiative undertaken by the present government from 2018. This year #PoshanMaah2020 has transformed itself into the clarion call of #Local4Poshan
Union Cabinet Minister for Textiles and Women & Child Development Smriti Z Irani has called for the support of the people of India. In a quick video, she has asked Indians to contribute towards Bharathiya Poshan Krish Kosh by sharing traditional recipes of your family or region.
The contest starting from today finds a place in the MyGov Innovation section of the website, with all details. The Prime Minister has also asked to support #Local4Poshan. Wondering if he would be sharing his traditional recipe ;)
Banega Swasth India
This is a joint initiative by Dettol Indian and NDTV with a commitment towards making India healthier and cleaner.
NDTV has created a section on its website for this initiative which has content from nutrition to COVID19. You can’t treat them separately. The initiative has been active on social media talking about food, health, and nutrition week. However, it seems it is no longer running the donation campaign that it ran last year with the Smile Foundation.
There is no update but the campaign page is active. Confusing?
The CSR initiative by Adani Wilmar, implemented by Adani Foundation is on a mission to rid India of malnutrition and anemia. It has also joined hands with the Indian government's Poshan Abhigyan.
The website is a content repository about the initiative, the way it is working, and the impact so far. And then there is the obvious plug of Fortune products the edible oil and foods. The initiative is also asking people to support the vision of eradicating hunger by suggesting a nutritious local recipe or being a Sangini(volunteer) for a day or by identifying a malnourished child.
The website gives suitable options for all the three above options of making your support count.
The foundation has also been busy conducting webinars to celebrate #RashtriyaPoshanMaah
Additionally, nonprofits working in the space of nutrition and hunger have been sharing content around nutrition week. They all are so photogenic that even sharing would be making fun of food.
Nutrition is a complex and intertwined subject impacting women and children mostly. It also involves different layers and income status in society. According to the latest development milk will soon be an integral part of the midday meal scheme to ensure proper education to all students in government schools across the country.
This ties to the prime minister’s vision of aiming to make malnutrition free India.
Over the years the Mid Day Meal program, according to NDTV has played a significant role in increasing enrolment and improving attendance of children in the schools, but it has far deeper implications – as it is one of the crucial ways to ensure the nutritional security of children.
As per the government data, in the year 2018-19, the MDM scheme served about 9.17 crore children in 11.35 lakh schools across the country. However, the scheme has faced massive challenges, when the COVID-19 lockdown was announced and schools and Anganwadis were shut down.
The HRD Ministry has announced an increased allocation for the smooth distribution of the mid-day meals with an additional expenditure of about Rs. 1,700 crores. However, the ground realities have a different story to tell.
“We did get the MDM in April, consisting OF eggs and even milk but by May, our school authority told us that a few people tested positive from their MDM team so they have stopped cooking food and will send us money. We are waiting for money but until today I haven’t received any money.”
7-year-old Rishi from Bihar’s holy town of Gaya said that they received their mid-day meal in the month of April which stopped by May. His mother told NDTV.
Can India achieve its Zero Hunger target by 2030?
Obviously the government bodies and nonprofit organisations are working tirelessly. And it wouldn’t be okay for me to pass judgment while sitting in my comfort zone. But the government should look beyond social media and nonprofits should ace the game of content for such occasions.
The campaigns and content that are being created to eradicate hunger from India are consumed by people like you and me. We have nutritious food and the internet. The family that is sleeping hungry tonight has no internet and food. Wonder how does the message reaches to the end consumer in this scenario.
Layer that up with an ongoing pandemic and continuous lockdowns have thrown an enormous challenge to the grassroot workers and Anganwadis.
A picture of broccoli or a well-decorated plate full of leafy vegetables in front of stary and dark eyes from a village household don’t really add up for #Local4Poshan