Fixing India’s malnutrition problem
The poor performance of India in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2022 and the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) highlights the continuing problem of malnutrition among its population.
Government schemes are not delivering
- The problem of Fund allocation: The budget for overarching Schemes like PM POSHAN; POSHAN 2.0, and Saksham Anganwadi is nowhere near what is required to improve nutrition in the country.
- Low Per Capita costs: The per capita costs of the Supplementary Nutrition Programme (one of this scheme's most significant components) have not increased since 2017.
- Absence of Accountability: Issues like manpower constraints; controversies around the menu of the mid-day meal scheme and social audits are not actively administered.
Cash transfers and the factor of reliance
- Cash transfers as a favored solution: Cash transfers in social sectors interventions like in Health and nutrition sectors backed by JAM trinity have been successful.
- Digital Infrastructure: Due to robust digital infrastructure, targeting the right beneficiaries (i.e., pregnant women and families with children under the age of five) is possible.
- Cash transfer is no panacea: Inflation, the impact of son preferences on household decisions on the nutrition needs of sons/daughters may dilute the advantage of cash transfers.