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It’s no secret that India performs poorly amongst the world’s countries in human development indicators.

However, it’s also true that India has been improving consistently for the last 60 years on almost all human development, economic productivity, health and other indicators, and that’s what makes the latest Global Hunger Index information disturbing.

It’s not the low ranking (103rd amongst 119 countries) that shocks. That has been the case for decades and we all know that India has a very long way to go. Most countries are well ahead of India in giving their people a better quality of life.

What is absolutely, unbelievably, shocking and so difficult to digest, is that after decades of consistent yearly improvement, India has become much worse in the last 5 years in the most critical child nourishment and child health indicator – wasting.

The incidence of wasting (acute malnourishment) amongst India’s children has gone up in the last 5 years by a whopping 22 percent!

Now, 21 percent of our children are wasted, compared to 17.1 percent 5 years ago.

These children will grow up to be mentally and physically stunted adults, with no capacity to be sufficiently productive. It will not be possible to educate or train mentally stunted adults beyond a point.

This is a tragedy of immense proportions. Currently,  India has over 20 million wasted children under the age of 5, and the problem is 22 percent worse than it was 5 years ago. How can any responsible country or government accept this?

According to the article at this link ( https://wap.business-standard.com/article/opinion/hunger-pangs-118101701308_1.html?1539808031 ), our agriculture minister has suggested an improvement in farm productivity as a solution. That’s ridiculous. We are a food surplus nation already. If there is a problem, it is of access and distribution.

Our children cannot afford to have such illiterate responses to the problem from the most senior people in government. They deserve better.

This problem is not about farm productivity. It is about improving the nutrition and health status of teenage girls, and pregnant and lactating women. And it is about educating mothers and families on better child health practices.

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