Stating that India’s “traditional wisdom” was not being marketed in a proper manner, Gujarat Governor OP Kohli said Saturday that research in traditional wisdom could help in addressing the issue of “malnutrition” in the country where 50 percent of the population is suffering from some form of protein, calorie or micro-nutrient deficiency.
“The biggest challenge before our traditional wisdom is that the good aspects are not being marketed properly — I am not saying this in connection with nutrition alone. As a result people are gladly embracing all the rubbish connected to modern day civilization, that are being fiercely marketed and they are not ready to accept the good points connected to our traditional wisdom,” said Kohli while delivering a keynote address at a conference on “Nutritional Challenges – a CSR perspective” organised by CII.
The Gujarat Governor also gave examples about the advantages of consuming pumpkin and “sattu” (flour consisting of grounded cereals and pulses). “People in Gujarat do not consume Pumpkin which has ample amount of vitamin B12…” he said adding that people needed to be made aware of the benefits of having pumpkin or a drink made from “sattu”.
“The society that does not respect and believe in the traditional knowledge it has, will end up losing a priceless asset,” Kohli said adding that while accepting modernity one must not ignore or look down up traditional knowledge. The Governor also called for research into traditional wisdom with regard to nutritious food.
Giving various solutions to address malnutrition in Gujarat and other parts of the country, Kohli said, “Outside the formal education set up, our country also has a huge channel of non-formal education where religious discourses take place, where saints organise ‘kathas.’ People attending these religious gatherings are more than those who gather to listen to political leaders. In such talks given at such gatherings, the issue of nutrition and malnutrition can be talked about.” He also suggested the subject of malnutrition to be introduced in the school curricula to spread awareness among children, teachers and parents.
During his speech, the Governor emphasised a couple of times that the work on malnutrition should be seen as “divine work”. Stating that the private sector can make a huge contribution in addressing the issue of malunutrion, the Governor said, “It is not just something that you do for economic gain or profits. It is a religious and Godly work,” he said.
Other speakers who spoke at the conference talked about how the “vacuum in the market for low-cost, fortified energy foods for the poor was being exploited by firms selling junkfood.” Veena S Rao, advisor, Karnataka Nutrition Mission said, “There is an alarming and invisible epidemic of malnutrition in the country… Even after 40 years of ICDS (Integrated Child Development Scheme) and about 15 years of mid-day meal programe, the (nutritional) deficit remains.”