27 July, 2021

Diversity Is The Challenge

Nutrition security for all demands equity as the cornerstone of development

Photograph by Usha Ramesh
Diversity Is The Challenge

Within the next decade, India will be the world’s most populous country, overtaking China. It will also, for the next three decades, be blessed with a demographically young population—a huge development dividend. Yet, the challenge of providing adequate and appropriate nutrition for this vast population looms large, with worrisome concerns on the impact of climate change, water shortages, growing economic disparities, and the disconnect between commercial food production engines and human nutrition needs for health and wellbeing. Even before that ­future unfolds, we are witnessing major challenges of malnutrition in many forms. The National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4; 2015-16) records the percentages of underweight, wasted or stunted children at 35.7, 21 and 38, respectively. The corresponding figures vary across states—in Madhya Pradesh, they were 42.8, 25.8 and 42.

The inter-generational effects of malnutrition can be ­devastating not only for the affected families, but also for national productivity and development. Poor maternal nutrition in...

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