Planning Commission of India’s Human Development Report says all states have serious to alarming situation of hunger. India could well be one of the two fastest growing economies of the world but for the poor, matters have only turned worse.
The Human Development Report released by the Planning Commission on Friday has shockingly revealed that the poor in rural India were better fed about 30 years ago.
The eye- opening figures render meaningless the controversy over Planning Commission’s poverty line cut- offs – those spending over Rs 26 a day in rural areas and over Rs 32 a day in urban areas would no longer be considered to be below the poverty line.
In fact, on the hunger front it has been one long slide downwards. All states, according to the report, are facing “ a serious to extremely alarming situation of hunger.” Even as the Indian economy boasts of an average growth rate of over 6 per cent per annum, the calorie and protein intake of the poor has declined consistently, according to figures for 1983 to 2004- 05 which were taken into account to prepare the report.
The telling impact of this on health is all too evident. During 2000- 07, nearly half of India’s children under the age of five years were malnourished.
This is the worst in South Asia and, shockingly, worse than the worst performer in the African region – a dubious distinction that dents India’s image. Further, the eleventh five year plan document says that the absolute weight and height of Indians, on an average, have not shown any significant improvement over the last 25 years.
The Human Development Report, which was released a day ahead of the National Development Council ( NDC) meeting to be attended by the Prime Minister – it was released by Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and rural development minister Jairam Ramesh – paints a dark picture of the Indian situation.
The overall per capita intake of calories and protein has declined consistently over the 20 year period from 1983 to 2004- 05 according to NSS data. Rural calorie consumption per day has fallen from 2,221 to 2,047, a decline of eight per cent
Similarly the urban calorie consumption fell by 3.3 per cent from 2,080 in 1983 to 2020 in 2004- 05
Nearly half of India’s children under the age of three years are malnourished, which is worse than the Sub- Saharan African region.
There is not a single state whose hunger index is less than 9.9 , suggesting that all states have a serious to extremely alarming situation of hunger
Not even half of our children are fully immunised
The total expenditure on health ( both public and private) stands at 4.1 per cent of the GDP which is less than the African region’s expenditure on health
Compared to 30 hospital beds per 10,000 people in China, India has nine
Almost 50 per cent of households in India have no toilets