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Director: Drew Ambrose | Producer: Drew Ambrose, Tiffany Ang, Supriya Sobti
Focus Years: 2012 | Country: Qatar
Subject Tags: asia, economies, governance, health, human rights, india
Quality Tags: Optimistic, Slow, Activating, Harmonizing
Forty-two percent of India’s children, totaling 61 million, are malnourished. The Hunger and Malnutrition report released in early 2012 reveals that levels are double those found in sub-Saharan Africa, making every third malnourished child in the world an Indian. Nowhere else in India is the problem more chronic than in the Madhya Pradesh. According to UNICEF, 55% of the central state’s 10.5 million children suffer from calorie deficiency and acute malnourishment. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has declared the issue a “national shame.” India has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. For years, the Indian government has tried to combat the problem, instituting the Integrated Child Development Scheme and a public distribution system. This includes setting up local Anganwadi centers to feed underweight children and mothers and running the world’s largest child feeding program, the Mid Day Meal Scheme. On top of this, the Cabinet passed the Food Security Bill in December 2011, in an effort to provide subsidized food grains to 75% of the rural population and half of the urban population. But critics say that the Bill will only gnaw at the federal government’s purse strings and slow down economic growth. Skeptics also question the government’s schemes, saying corruption and lack of administrative support are the root causes for the flawed execution. Anganwadi centers in Madhya Pradesh for example, are reported to have a lack of sufficient beds and are understaffed. The Mid Day Meal Scheme has also come under fire with corrupt local officials eating away at the funds. Meanwhile, a lack of basic hygiene is one serious problem. Critics now say that India may not be able to meet one of its UN Millennium Development Goals of halving malnutrition by 2015. 101 East travels to India and asks why the world’s largest democracy is failing to feed its millions.

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