ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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What Is the Effective Delivery Mechanism of Food Support in India?

The public distribution system is the cornerstone of anti-poverty initiatives in India to address the issue of hunger and malnutrition, but is plagued with leakages and corruption. Though several possible reasons account for these problems, one factor that is generally overlooked is the lack of assessment of the preference of the beneficiaries in terms of product portfolio, selection, and delivery mechanisms. Through a mixed methods analysis across Bihar, Odisha and (eastern) Uttar Pradesh, this paper assesses the factors explaining the diversity in the preference for the delivery mechanism. What would be a straightforward choice problem among delivery mechanisms turns out to be far more intricate when mediated by contextual heterogeneity and unequal power relations at different levels. The results highlight the centrality of demand and build a case for demand assessment in improving the effectiveness of the system.

Hidden Hunger, Burdened Women

Reminiscent of poverty debates, serious undernutrition in India risks becoming a measurement quibble, unless we talk about unequal development gains and the answerability of governments towards less empowered citizens. Based on the simple counting of food consumed by 240 households and conversations with women, this article explores the contrast between local knowledge of what constitutes a “good diet” and the deficient meals consumed by people in Odisha, a state in eastern India. Effective interventions need to look beyond “maternal responsibility” and address entitlement uncertainties and gender inequality, in order to ensure essential nutrition and good health of vulnerable groups such as women and children.

India’s Slip on Global Hunger Index

After witnessing an improvement from 2008 to 2014, India’s rank on Global Hunger Index slipped in 2016. This slip is attributed to reformulation of GHI to encompass the multidimensional character of malnutrition, wherein underweight was replaced by stunting and wasting. While GHI scores of several other countries witnessed a decline, India fared worse. This is explained through a stickiness in child stunting levels in India attributed to gendered norms, poor sanitation, and high regional concentration.

Doubtful Intentions

Nagada village in Jajpur district, Odisha hit the headlines of major news media due to continuous child deaths during the period July–August, 2016.The fact-finding team reports that malnutrition made the children vulnerable to such diseases and instant deaths.

Determinants of Child Malnutrition in Tribal Areas of Madhya Pradesh

A research study conducted in three tribal districts— Alirajpur, Barwani and Khandwa—of Madhya Pradesh, based on a sample of 294 women with their last child in the age-group of six months–five years analyses the status and determinants of malnutrition and child death.

Perpetual Areas of Darkness

Malnutrition deaths in Maharashtra's tribal belt expose indifference of successive governments.

Adult Under-Nutrition in India

The nutritional performance of adult women in India, at present, parallels a situation referred to famously as The Asian Enigma. Ramalingaswami, Jonsson and Rohde (1996) deployed this term to refer to the prevalence of higher levels of child undernutrition in south Asia, despite its much better performance in economic and social spheres, than Sub-Saharan Africa. The analysis established that the Asian enigma was essentially a “low birth weight enigma”, as the exceptionally high level of low birth weight was found to be the primary reason for the much higher incidence of under-nutrition, especially stunting, in south Asia than Sub-Saharan Africa (Osmani and Bhargava 1998). The low birth weight of babies relates essentially to the poor nutritional status of women (mothers, to be specific), which in itself has become a source for yet another enigmatic situation.

Are Children in West Bengal Shorter Than Children in Bangladesh?

Children in West Bengal and Bangladesh are presumed to share the same distribution of genetic height potential. In West Bengal they are richer, on average, and are therefore slightly taller. However, when wealth is held constant, children in Bangladesh are taller. This gap can be fully accounted for by differences in open defecation, and especially by open defecation in combination with differences in women's status and maternal nutrition.

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