Rajya Sabha Congress member M V Rajeev Gowda speaks to The Indian Express on raising the issue of hunger and chronic malnutrition among children and adolescents in the Upper House.
What was the issue you flagged in the Zero hour?
I raised the issue of worsening statistics on nutrition and the urgent need to eliminate hunger and chronic malnutrition among children and adolescents. In 2019, India slipped seven places in the Global Hunger Index to rank 102 out of 117 countries, placing us in the ‘serious hunger’ category.
Has the government done anything so far?
The government launched Poshan Abhiyaan three years ago. But as of December 31, 2019, only 37 per cent of funds released under the scheme have been utilised by state and UT governments since its launch
If there is a policy and funds are allocated, why are things getting worse?
Firstly, information needs to be disseminated more effectively at the village level for effective behaviour change. For example, even when iron and folic acid tablets are provided, they are not taken because of side-effects like nausea. People need to be made aware that these tablets should be taken along with Vitamin C. Secondly, prevention is better than cure. Why are we not investing more in education? …Children must learn what it really means to be healthy…Thirdly, addressing this problem requires convergence of several Ministries — Health, Women and Child Development, Food Affairs, Water and Sanitation, even HRD and Information and Broadcasting.
If it doesn’t happen at the ministry level, how can we expect it to happen on the ground?
There must be a civil movement. People need to understand what they need and this must be reflected in the formulation of village-level plans to effect true behaviour change. Therefore, it cannot be a district plan, definitely not a state plan, but a community-owned plan…
What was the response to your intervention?
There was lot of support among members.
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