If you thought Gujarat’s economy is growing and prosperous,you are right. But what most of you probably did not know that there is a dark side to the rapid growth. It is not communal divide but a high rate of malnutrition that is fast turning out to be the underbelly of a growing and thriving state.
A brainstorming session of the Gujarat government to discuss what has been achieved,what has gone wrong and what could be or needs to be done throws light on some alarming facts on the state of nutrition security.
Chief Minister Narendra Modi,his ministers,150 top bureaucrats and key policymakers are currently meeting in the four-day closed-door chintan shibir.
The Indian Express has accessed the discussion papers.
Sample this. Though the agricultural growth stood at 9.6 per cent in the last 10 years three to four times the national average and milk production increased by 66 per cent,every second child under five years of age is underweight.
In simpler terms,45 per cent of all children are underweight,the papers state.
No district is free from malnutrition: 16 out of 26 districts have 45-64 per cent underweight children and 9 of the 12 tribal districts have 45 per cent or more underweight children.
There is high prevalence of anaemia among married women (55 per cent),pregnant women (61per cent),adolescent girls (57 per cent) and children (80 per cent). Worse,the rate is increasing at an alarming rate.
The state government has identified several reasons.
Key among them is that in rural areas,milk is sold to cooperatives,which does not leave enough for the family and children,the document says. Even in agriculture,the normal practice is to grow cash crops and not cereals and pulses and the families end up with less food grains at home.