Malnutrition: Roadblock to Progress
In its march towards becoming a developed nation, one of India’s biggest challenges is the eradication of malnutrition among children, which has risen to as high as 35 per cent at present. Sensing the gravity of the situation, the Law Commission in its report no. 259 has recommended the insertion of Article 24A in the Indian Constitution which would make quality healthcare and nutrition an enforceable right for children under the age of 6. It is hoped that the government will take up the issue with all sincerity to ensure that no child suffers from malnutrition. It is undoubtedly an uphill task: but we must realise that to achieve the target we have set for ourselves, both the government and citizens should join together to bring down the present malnutrition rate as early as possible. Otherwise, in all certainty India will have a weak workforce in 2047, which will pull the economy down from its present trajectory. Action must be taken so that today’s children can contribute their might in nation-building when they come of age. A number of experts have termed India’s dream of becoming a developed nation by 2047 as absurd and overambitious.
It is clear that India should stress on child nutrition by ensuring proper care, especially for those with working parents. It must be ensured that the children of the working class get adequate nutrition as per the standard set by various world bodies including the World Health Organisation (WHO). In this regard, it must be noted that the problem of unattended children is more acute in the unorganised sector, where a large number of Indians earn their livelihood. Many employers in this sector are focused solely on profitability. As a result, a number of tragedies have been witnessed as unattended toddlers are left to fend for themselves. Even those who manage to survive in this cruel world, grow up facing various health issues that make them unfit for any hard or strenuous work. The Law Commission is right in suggesting that the government should step in to ensure that not a single child grows up without receiving proper nutrition and care.
In this context, the government should strengthen the National Creche Scheme aimed at taking care of children with working parents. Unfortunately, budget allocation for this scheme has been reduced in recent times. If the government is sincere in tackling the problem to prevent a future disaster, it should not only restore the fund but also enhance it substantially. At the same time, a nationwide move to highlight the dangers of malnutrition should be undertaken. If the rate of malnutrition stays at the present level, India’s aim of becoming a developed nation by 2047 will be severely stunted.