|Demand of the question |
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Hunger issue in India. Why hunger still persists? What should be done?
Conclusion. Way forward.
Despite rapid economic growth and food being subsidised, many in India remain hungry without access to adequate food and nutrition. Many children are stunted, i.e. are less tall than expected for their age. Faced with learning difficulties and limited employment opportunities as they grow older, they often face a life of poverty. A rising population coupled with changing climates further add to hunger issue.
Issue of hunger in India:
- Malnutrition amongst children in India is projected to remain high, despite of all the progress made in food security.
- Almost one in three Indian children under five years will still be malnourished by 2022 going by current trends.
- Access to food has not increased. Food-grain yields have risen 33% over the last two decades, but are still only half of 2030 target yields
- The consumer’s access to rice, wheat and other cereals has not increased at the same rate, due to population growth, inequality, food wastage and losses, and exports.
- Despite positive trends and patterns in improving food security, the prevalence of hunger in India remains high, with many people, especially women and children, suffering from micronutrient deficiency.
Why hunger persist still all the efforts?
- Poverty: Poverty is far from being eradicated. It is estimated 23.6% of Indian population, or about 276 million people, is living below $1.25 per day on purchasing power parity. Poverty alone does not lead to malnutrition, but it seriously affects the availability of adequate amounts of nutritious food for the most vulnerable populations.
- Lack of access to food: Most major food and nutrition crises do not occur because of a lack of food, but rather because people are too poor to obtain enough food. Non-availability of food in markets, difficult access to markets due to lack of transportation, and insufficient financial resources are all factors contributing to the food insecurity of the most vulnerable populations.
- Lack of safe drinking water: Water is synonymous with life. Lack of potable water, poor sanitation, and dangerous hygiene practices increase vulnerability to infectious and water-borne diseases, and are direct causes of acute malnutrition.
- Climate change: In 30 years, the number of natural disasters — droughts, cyclones, floods, etc. linked to climate change has increased substantially. The effects of climate change are often dramatic, devastating areas which are already vulnerable. Infrastructure is damaged or destroyed; diseases spread quickly; people can no longer grow crops or raise livestock. The decline in agricultural production caused either directly or indirectly by climate change would dramatically increase the number of people suffering from hunger in the coming years.
- Multidimensional nature: Hunger and the related under nutrition is the result of various associated factors ranging from water, sanitation, access to food items. A person’s ‘nutritional quotient’ is also dependent demographic factors like gender, caste, age, etc. For instance, the nutritional needs of girl child’s and elderly are not adequately addressed in our society.
- Ineffective implementation: Another important reason behind the persistent hunger is the poor implementation of the schemes and policies. The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and the National Health Mission (NHM) have not achieved the adequate coverage.
What should be done to resolve hunger issue?
- Farmers should be encouraged and incentivised for agricultural diversification.
- Innovative and low-cost farming technologies, increase in the irrigation coverage and enhancing knowledge of farmers in areas such as appropriate use of land and water should be encouraged to improve the sustainability of food productivity.
- The government should improve policy support for improving agricultural produce of traditional crops in the country.
- Storage capacity should be improved to prevent post-harvest losses.
- The targeting efficiency of all food safety nets should be improved, especially that of the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), to ensure that the poorest are included.
- In addition, fortification of government-approved commodities within the social safety net programmes can improve nutritional outcomes.
- Child feeding practices should be improved in the country, especially at the critical ages when solid foods are introduced to the diet.
- Fortification, diversification and supplementation may be used as simultaneous strategies to address micro and macronutrient deficiencies.
Goal 2 of the 2030 Sustainable Development agenda seeks to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition and double agricultural productivity in the next 15 years. There is a need for more robust measures that can take cognisance of all aspects of SDG 2. All the major welfare programmes need to be gender sensitive. Ensuring this sustainable access to nutritious food universally will require sustainable food production and agricultural practices.