Relevance: GS Paper II (Poverty and Hunger)
With a population of about 1.2 billion as per 2011 census, India is likely to be the most populous country on this planet by 2030 with 1.6 billion people. Thus, ensuring food and nutrition security is a challenge for India.
The importance of health
- A healthy workforce is a prerequisite to any nation’s development.
- Recognizing this fact, improvement of the health and nutritional status of the population has always been given high priority.
- Article 47 of the Constitution of India states that “the State shall regard raising the level of nutrition and standard of living of its people and improvement in public health among its primary duties”.
Efforts by the governments
- Indian policymakers have always given priority to ensuring health and food safety.
- Successive five-year plans have laid policies and multi-pronged strategies to improve food security and nutritional status of the population in a specified time frame while also providing requisite funds.
- The government has been giving extensive importance to universal access to efficient and basic health services in both urban and rural areas.
- As a result, famines and severe food insecurity are no longer a threat though seasonal food insecurity continues to raise its head in different pockets of the country.
- There has been a substantial improvement in nutritional status of all the segments of the population with a substantial reduction in cases of under-nutrition and micro-nutrient deficiencies.
- The challenge of maternal and child under-nutrition remains a national public health concern and a policy priority for the current government.
- India is home to over 40 million stunted and 17 million wasted children (under-five years).
- Under-nutrition is a condition resulting from inadequate intake of food or more essential nutrients resulting in deterioration of physical and mental health.
- Regional disparities in the availability of food and varying food habits lead to the differential status of under-nutrition which is substantially higher in rural than in urban areas.
- This demands a region-specific action plan with significant investments in human resources with critical health investments at the local levels.
The National Nutrition Mission ( NNM)
- The announcement of the National Nutrition Mission (NNM) is a very significant development on this front.
- It has introduced a central nodal agency with extensive financial resources to coordinate various central and state government schemes and imbue them with additional financial resources.
- The program will cover all states and districts in a phased manner.
- The total outlay for the nutrition mission has been set at over Rs. 9,000 crore for a period of three years.
- The core strategy of the mission is to create decentralized governance system with flexibility given to states, districts and local level with robust monitoring, accountability and incentive frameworks that will encourage local solutions.
- The program, through well-defined targets, strives to reduce the level of stunting, under-nutrition, anemia and low birth weight babies. More than 10 crore people are likely to be benefited by this program.
- NNM proposes to cover all the States and districts in a phased manner i.e. 315 districts in 2017-18, 235 districts in 2018-19 and remaining districts in 2019-20.
- The main emphasis is on creating synergy, ensuring better monitoring and encouraging States/UTs to
- With such clear operating roadmap, the NNM is perhaps the most ambitious program of the government.
- Healthy eating practices are akin to behavioral change. Government interventions and large-scale participation of communities are must to motivate the people towards the right practices. achieve the targeted goals.
- Healthy people can contribute to the nation’s growth only when supported by adequate infrastructure and facilities. Thus while taking steps to ensure healthy India, the government has also taken extensive measures to ensure the financial and social security of the citizens.
The National Nutrition Mission clubbed with moves to create strong infrastructure and missions like Swachh Bharat, skill India and digital India campaigns are sure to put India in the forefront on the world map.