Skip to Content

42.5% of Children are Malnurished in India

Though not typical of Praja discussions, I think this report is worth sharing and pondering about. It moved me so much, couldn't resist bringing up a national issue...

Take a look at today's NY Times article: As Indian Growth Soars, Chid Hunger Persists.

Almost half of our future citizens, a staggering 42.5% of our young children are malnurshed, a rate worse than many sub-saharan countries. 1 in 3 malnurshed children on Earth live in India. Don't we need to grow over our petty issues to get our act together? How much money could it take to give every one of these kids 3 square nutritious meals a day? I'm thinking money involved in the amount of corruption in Bangalore alone could be a handful!

Here are some extracts from this article:

Small, sick, listless children have long been India’s scourge — “a national shame,” in the words of its prime minister, Manmohan Singh. But even after a decade of galloping economic growth, child malnutrition rates are worse here than in many sub-Saharan African countries, and they stand out as a paradox in a proud democracy . 

While India runs the largest child feeding program in the world, experts agree it is inadequately designed, and has made barely a dent in the ranks of sick children in the past 10 years.

Ms. Menon could not help but notice how small Jannu was, like so many of Jahangirpuri’s mothers. At 5 feet 2 inches tall, Ms. Menon towered over them. Children who were roughly the same age as her own daughter were easily a foot shorter. Stunted children are so prevalent here, she observed, it makes malnutrition invisible.

“I see a system failing,” Ms. Menon said. “It is doing something, but it is not solving the problem.”

This UNICEF page on Child Nutrition quotes:

Malnutrition is more common in India than in Sub-Saharan Africa. One in every three malnourished children in the world lives in India.

In India, around 46 per cent of all children below the age of three are too small for their age, 47 per cent are underweight and at least 16 per cent are wasted. Many of these children are severely malnourished.

Think about it.


Ravi_D's picture

Monetary Value

...of corruption is significantly higher than what I thought. This TI study in 2005 estimates it to be Rs 21,068 crores, Approx $4.25 billion @ Rs 50/USD. Approx 3.25 times the government spending (@ $1.3 billion as quoted in the NYTimes article)! 4 years later, in 2009, wonder what that number could be.


Cut fuel subsidies

I wonder where we get the money to spend (billions of it) on fuel subsidies instead of appropriately targeting malnutrition and rural health.

If ever i was to have political power, i would instantly eliminate all fuel subsidies and divert the same to food subsidies.

The white men left India in 1947. The Brown sahibs who took their place live of our taxes.  
s_yajaman's picture

Agree MC

Finally a left winger and a right winger agreeing on a few things.  Our site throws up surprises every now and then :). 

Shameful that we have this situation 60 years after independence.  As you said all we have done is replace white sahibs with brown sahibs who think that they are the lords of all that they survey.  Just go to a govt office and see the attitude - there is no concept of customer service.  Recently my wife just shouted in the BBMP office when they casually told her to come back the next day to pay her property tax.  They told her that the concerned case worker was absent due to election duty.  After she shouted they found a workaround. 

We also need to include the massive amount of money that urban government bodies spend on roads and their upkeep into the  subsidies offered to car owners.

I think mid-day meals at schools would serve the purpose a tad better if executed well.  They will serve the added advantage of bringing in children to school.   Apparently Akshaya Patre is run quite well by ISKCON.


Drive safe.  It is not just the car maker which can recall its product.

Mid day meals are as important

The Sarva Siksha Abhiyan did quite a bit in terms of stemming up the enrollment rates, even in BIMARU states. Now the next trick is to ensure adequate supply of mid day meals in these schools.

If TN could achieve wonders ever since the introduction of mid day meals by MGR, then i am sure we can do this today. 
s_yajaman's picture

Questions for my MP and candidates on this topic

As we are only 1 ` month away from elections here are some questions for my MP and candidates on this topic

a. How many government schools are there in your constituency? 

b. In the last 5 years how many of these did you visit at least once?

c. How many schools in your constituency have a functioning mid-day meal scheme?

d. What steps have you taken to ensure that every school has a mid day meal scheme that provides nutritious food?

e. What steps will you take to ensure that schools in your constituency are producing functionally literate children who meet the criteria laid out in the SSA?

Don't tell me that education is a state subject.  That is a cop out.  Primary education is probably the most important issue in India.  Our future depends on it. 


Drive safe.  It is not just the car maker which can recall its product.

See the differences

 Do you think the NREGA is a success?

I would say it is. You should appreciate it as an idea first. There may be problems and discrepancies in the implementation. But an idea and its implementation are different things. No doubt, the implementation failure has to be looked into and fixed.

Compared to the fertilisers and oil bond subsidies which come to around Rs 2 lakh crore (Rs 2 trillion), the money in the NREGA is hardly Rs 10,000 crore (Rs 100 billion).

This scheme has been running successfully for 35 years in Maharashtra. There must be something right about it if it has been working for such a long time.

Other areas where tremendous ground has been gained are health and education.

Rithesh's picture

NREGA - has been a failure

Conceptually NREGA is an amazing idea. But it hasnt been successful at all. The amount - Rs.10000 crore is small because it covers very few districts.

Look at any independent studies on NREGA - it is performance is dismally bad and a complete waste of money.
1. No tangible assets are being created through the scheme.
2. Corruption is rampant where ever it has been implemented, workers are getting a fraction of what they are entitled.
3. Caste decides what amount of money they get.
4. Babudom is the only sector that has benifited from this scheme.

The CAG has also been very critical of how this scheme is being implemented.

A TOI report on the status of NREGA states the following (the report came out in Feb 2008) -
A report on the NREGA website says that in the six chosen districts of Karnataka only 13 households were provided 50 mandays employment in seven months. This 'achievement' cost Rs 1.47 crore in wages, Rs 1.65 crore on material and Rs 2.84 crore on 'contingencies'!
The link to the article - link

But scraping the scheme is not the solution. A better control mechanism should be put in place. A separate govt machinery with active involvement of NGOs/farmer associations should be created. This is too good a scheme to be allowed to fail. There is no better way to ramp up rural infrastructure than through this scheme. Long term sustainable projects should be planned from implementation through NREGA (check dams, rain water harvesting infrastructure, better roads, de-silting of lake beds, etc). comment guidelines

Posting Guidelines apply for comments as well. No foul language, hate mongering or personal attacks. If criticizing third person or an authority, you must be fact based, as constructive as possible, and use gentle words. Avoid going off-topic no matter how nice your comment is. Moderators reserve the right to either edit or simply delete comments that don't meet these guidelines. If you are nice enough to realize you violated the guidelines, please save Moderators some time by editing and fixing yourself. Thanks!

about seo | forum