NUTRITIONALLY IMBALANCED INDIA!
THIS, if nothing else, is a gross crime being perpetrated against the people of the country by successive rulers! And THIS, take it from me, has the potential to destroy our future too as nation wishing to escape from the currently admitted ‘developing country’ status!
Hence my focus on this!
Please pay attention!
As per the National Family Health Survey 3 (2005-2006) India had the highest number of stunted children in the whole world –and most of them are, unsurprisingly enough, from tribal communities! [For your information, stunting is a life-and-death issue. It is irreversible and chronic. It’s a visible manifestation of under-nutrition for months and years. It adversely affects a kid’s survival, health, immunity status, development, learning capacity, school performance and productivity in adulthood.]
When it comes to the nutrition status of the people India lags behind many other countries. In some pockets India is inferior to even Sub Saharan Africa.
You may argue, as a citizen all fired up with recently found patriotism fire in your belly to lionize the PM for A to Z, with some substance that it’s only a question of supply channels in PDS remaining somewhat clogged in such areas but it is far from so.
At the policy making level it seems there is not enough ground realities being taken into consideration.
As far the people are concerned, food consumption habits are so asymmetrical that it’s better that we don’t speak of it. Partly as a consequence of vastly varied incomes the people in cities, unless they are lucky enough to get home cooked food, depend almost entirely on the junk that they get from neighboring hotels. Hundreds of tons of food—half cooked, un-intelligently cooked, hastily cooked and carelessly cooked plus surplus- are thrown out of hotels and homes every day too.
Roadside eateries, run with judicious care and individual attention, are far better at times than glitzy restaurants!
Across India it’s not mandatory that hotels serve ONLY high quality food preparations, as a result of which the customers often fall seriously and grievously ill and get hospitalized too without any State government taking the issue up and passing legislation that specifies the minimal quality that must be kept.
For the media this has low news value despite its evident human angle.
Something populist—like food inspection and even ordering hotels to down their shutters for a few months– is done only in scenarios when someone dies as a result of eating from some food outlet.
The situation is not much different in families too. Deep fried snacks are not only advertised on the idiot box all the time, which means our children all easy prey to this temptation, but in many homes it is taken for granted by the hostess that guests must be offered only these because of wonderful taste. [Scientifically the joy that one feels after gorging on deep fried items vegetarian or otherwise is the same as when having sex! Both report to the same Bliss Center in the brain!]
Tribal children tend to suffer from stunting a result of this. Up to 33.3% of all under five mortality among Indian children is caused by this alone!
“Stunting in tribal children”, a spokesman from the Ministry of Tribal Affairs says,”like that of other children, is influenced by a multitude of factors including household food insecurity, maternal nutrition in the first two years of life and poor access to water, health and sanitation services….We need to emphasize how various government departments can co-operate and collaborate for reducing stunting in India’s tribal children”
Under-nutrition—which can occur despite the children being offered a hug quantity of food, is a serious issue in our children—and curiously enough no State Nutrition Board has ever addressed this for some reason.
All these States have at the moment this issue affecting the nation’s future: Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Telangana!
Children in tribal pockets need not only access to good food but also health and sanitation services and except diet counseling! And India’s dietician community, attached to private hospitals mostly are of no help in this regard because no hospital cares to organize a week long awareness camp in tribal areas.
Doctors that have some know-how in this specialty are also of no help because they are pressed for time just to treat their own many patients! No nation-level conventions in this regard exist too simply because our parents are almost totally naïve when it comes to feeding their own babies and kids as they grow!
Both overeating and under eating is bad as you too are aware. How many Indian parents are schooled in cooking up a balanced meal every day for their kids please? Our social traditions have not prescribed for us what to eat and how to eat it. Both family doctors and family food counselors are unheard of here in India unlike n many nations in the West and East!
Obviously I am much more well-informed on this than on many others but I desist out of civic courtesy lest I lose my temper!