July 13, 2020
Count of undernourished Indians fell from 249.4 million in 2004-06 to 189.2 million in 2017-19.
Eastern and Southeastern Asia are two prominent regions where malnourishment decreased.
Indian Government has announced a package of US$270mn towards food safety for the needy.
The improvement can be attributed to increased access to food, rising income, economic growth.
The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report released by the United Nations on July 13 revealed that there has been a decrease in the number of undernourished Indians by 60 million over the 2004-2017 period. The number had declined from 249.4 million in 2004-06 to 189.2 million in 2017-19. However, the report revealed that the decline in the number of malnourished children occurred simultaneously with an increase in obesity among adults.
The report which is prepared by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recorded that Eastern and Southeastern Asia were the two prominent regions wherein malnourishment was steadily decreasing. This recent phenomenon can be attributed to factors such as increased access to food, rising income, and economic growth.
With specific regard to the Indian scenario, the report mentioned that the nation’s Targeted Public Distribution System plays a crucial role in catering to the nutritional needs of 800 million people across the nation. This, coupled with improved mass production methodologies have enabled a significant portion of the population to access nutritious food. The formation of market ecosystems in rural and urban regions have also contributed to the increase in accessibility to quality resources. With COVID-19 disrupting the supply of food to the economically disadvantaged sections of society, the report said that cash transfer programmes as a means by which economic gaps can be bridged.
State Governments across India have led various initiatives like Amma Canteens (Tamil Nadu), Indira Canteens (Karnataka), and Annapoorna Canteens (Andhra Pradesh) wherein freshly cooked, nutritious meals are served at nominal rates. Meanwhile, the Central Government recently announced a package of US$270 million towards food safety for the needy. Similarly, the Prime Minister’s “Gareeb Kalyan Yojana” and the National Food Safety Act of 2013 have been instrumental in providing food to the needy and subsidized rations to the population that is currently below the poverty line.