Monday, 20 September 2010

India Millennium Development Goals: Every second hungry person on earth is an Indian

Sept 2010


By Syed Akbar


Hyderabad: India is progressing on every field, but unfortunately every second hungry person on earth is an Indian and one out of two children in India are
undernourished.

A United Nations Development Programme report on Friday revealed the disappointing 
failures in India on fighting hunger and malnourishment. With just five years left for India to achieve the eight globally-agreed millennium development goals, the task on the hunger front seems to be quite daunting. The deadline is 2015 and India will have
to drastically reduce the number of persons who go to bed daily empty stomach.

The figures on hunger are quite startling given the fact that one billion tonnes of food 
grains rot in the country thanks to poor planning and execution of public distribution system.

According to the report, India accounts for 50 per cent of the world’s hungry. Over 46 
per cent of Indian children are undernourished. Health too is a major challenge -- the very survival of India’s women and children is threatened... On average 254 women died giving birth to a child for every 100,000 live births down from 327 in 1990.

The states of Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, 
Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal had the highest numbers ranging from 480 to 312. Kerala at 95, Tamil Nadu at 111 and West Bengal at 141 have the best figures. Andhra Pradesh has a maternal mortality ratio of 154.

"Two-thirds of the way to the 2015 finishing line for achieving the eight globally agreed 
Millennium Development Goals, India is at a crucial turning point with a few successes and some failures. Persistent inequalities, ineffective delivery of public services, weak accountability systems and gaps in the implementation of pro-poor policies are the
major bottlenecks to progress,"  said experts meeting in Delhi to suggest solutions to 
accelerate progress on the MDGs.

India has been successful in getting children into primary school, in providing access to 
water and in conserving environmental resources. It is possible that poverty will be halved by 2015 but by no means certain. Major states like Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal, also the most
populous states, are unlikely to achieve this target if it remains business as usual.

The proportion of poor in these states is currently at 64 per cent of the country’s poor 
and this is likely to increase to 71 per cent by 2015. The number of poor in 2015 is likely to be 279 million at all-India 
level.

A report on Millennium Development Goals points out that over 1.5 million children 
continue to die every year before their first birthday. Across India 74 children died before they reached the age of five for every 1,000 live births in 2005-06 as compared to 125 in 1990.

At this rate India is likely to miss the target of reducing these figures to 42 for 1,000 
live births by 2015. On this indicator, Assam, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh are the laggards while Goa, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh Sikkim and Tamil Nadu are on the fast track and likely to be early achievers. The present infant mortality rate in Andhra Pradesh is 52 per 1000 live births.

Prof TCA Anant, secretary, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, said "the 
stakes are high. With five years to the 2015 deadline we have a narrow window of opportunity to generate renewed momentum".

According to UNDP resident representative Patrice Coeur-Bizot, hopes that India can 
achieve the goals as successes in even the poorest countries have demonstrated.

A UN study has found that two-thirds of the world's hungry live in just seven countries: 
Bangladesh, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia and Pakistan.

The prevalence of underweight children in India is among the highest in the world. Over 
50 million children under five years are malnourished.

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