Hunger and malnutrition are serious issues in African society. Several African nations shamefully boast outrageous starvation and poverty rates, however there are parts of one nation that are in even worse shape. India.
Labelled as a “national shame” by its own prime minister, India’s malnutrition rates are rising during unprecedented economic growth. Perhaps that is the problem, the middle class and rich get richer, while the poor stay poor and in some cases, get even poorer.
Its neighbor, China, is experiencing a similarly remarkable economic advancement. But they’ve used their new money to help reduce malnutrition in several areas, reducing the number of children under the age of five who are suffering from starvation to seven per cent, one of the major forms of measurement of malnutrition.
In India, a shocking 42.5 per cent of children under the age of 5 suffer from malnutrition, a number that reveals a severe governmental failure.
As Somini Sengupta reports in the New York Times, there is no easy explanation for this problem. There are several contributing factors though: a disconnect between a large democratic government and the people who need it most, a lack of money being spent on children’s nutrition programs, and an overall negligent attitude towards health programs.
The Times reports that while India runs the largest child feeding program in the world, the program is severely flawed. India’s soup kitchens set up in low-income neighbourhoods help, but do not provide the nutrition necessary for pregnant women and children under two.
To its credit, India does ensure all children are immunized for preventable disease, however, malnutrition can make one more susceptible to diseases that could be prevented by nutrition. Malnutrition can also hinder development and growth for life, preventing Indian children from reaching their full intellectual and physical potentials.
India has a lot to do to fix its hunger problem, and it won’t happen soon. The first thing would be to make health a top priority among government again. The prime minister calls the situation a‚ “national shame.” He can begin to reverse the trend, if only he could make his government operate like a democracy that acts on its words.