Schools – the beginning of the end of malnutrition | UPSC

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IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 3rd Nov 2020

“Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless.” – Jamie Paolinetti

Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt is an initiative to dilute major Editorials of leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Here we choose two editorials on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC MAINS 2020-21.

EDITORIAL HUNT #222 :“Schools – the beginning of the end of malnutrition | UPSC

Schools – the beginning of the end of malnutrition | UPSC Schools – the beginning of the end of malnutrition | UPSC

JAYASHREE | GOPINATH
Schools – the beginning of the end of malnutrition | UPSC

The authors work with the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation

      HEADLINES:

The nutrition fallout of school closures

      CENTRAL THEME:

COVID-19 has exacerbated the problem of child hunger and malnutrition

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 1 : 3 : Malnutrition : Food Security

      MAINS QUESTION:

UNICEF recently cautioned that unless social security and school services are strengthened , Children may not knock the School doors. Comment -(GS 1,3)

      LEARNING: 

  • Pandemic and Children
  • Pressing issues
  • Innovative strategies
  • Way Forward

      INTRODUCTION: 

  • CASUALTY FOR CHILDREN : The largest school-feeding programme in the world, that has undoubtedly played an extremely significant role in increasing nutrition and learning among school going children.

As many as 116 million is the number of children we are looking at when we consider the indefinite school closure in India.

  • CONCERNS : The report of The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020, by FAO in partnership with other UN organisations, painted a worrying picture.
  • MISSING A MEAL : A real-time monitoring tool estimated that as of April 2020, the peak of school closures, 369 million children globally were losing out on school meals, a bulk of whom were in India.

      BODY: 

PRESSING ISSUE

  • SERIOUS CATEGORY IN GHI : The recent Global Hunger Index (GHI) report for 2020 ranks India at 94 out of 107 countries and in the category ‘serious’, behind our neighbours Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

The index is a combination of indicators of undernutrition in the population and wasting, stunting, and mortality in children below five years of age.

  • ‘ZERO HUNGER’ GOAL : We are already far out in terms of achieving the ‘Zero Hunger’ goal, and in the absence of urgent measures to address the problem, the situation will only worsen.
  • UNICEF CAUTIONS : Unless school services and social security are universally strengthened, there is a risk that some children may not even return to schools when they reopen.
  • UNDERNUTRITION : Inadequate dietary intake and disease are directly responsible for undernutrition, but multiple indirect determinants exacerbate these causes.

INDIRECT DETERMINANTS

  • Food insecurity
  • Inadequate childcare practices
  • Low maternal education
  • Poor access to health services
  • Lack of access to clean water and sanitation
  • Poor hygiene practices.

NUTRITIONAL REQUIREMENT

  • MICRO-NUTRIENT SHEET : A mid-day meal in India should provide 450 Kcal of energy, a minimum of 12 grams of proteins, including adequate quantities of micronutrients like iron, folic acid, Vitamin-A, etc.,
  • DIETARY CONSUMPTION : This above diet is one-third of the nutritional requirement of the child, from classes I to VIII in government and government-aided schools being eligible.
  • HUNGRY STOMACH AND HEAVY BAGS : Many children reach school on an empty stomach, making the school’s mid-day meal a major source of nutrition for children, particularly those from vulnerable communities.
  • ASSURANCES : Though State ensured that their immunity and nutrition is not compromised. Nearly three months into this decision, States were still struggling to implement this.
  • BUFFER STOCK : According to the Food Corporation of India’s (FCI) food grain bulletin, the off-take of grains under MDMS from FCI during April and May, 2020 was 221.312 thousand tonnes.

This was 60 thousand tonnes, or 22%, lower than the corresponding off-take during April and May, 2019 (281.932 thousand tonnes).

  • OUTSOURCING GRAINS : There were 23 States and Union Territories that reported a decline in the grain off-take from FCI in April-May 2020, compared with corresponding months in 2019.
  • DATA MISMATCH : Data and media reports indicate that dry ration distributions in lieu of school meals are irregular.
  • AGGRAVATING CHILD LABOUR : The other worrying angle is the fact that there are reports of children engaging in labour to supplement the fall in family incomes in vulnerable households.
  • SERVING A HOT MEAL : Even States like Tamil Nadu, with a relatively good infrastructure for the MDMS, are unable to serve the mandated ‘hot cooked meal’ during the lockdown.

INNOVATIVE STRATEGIES

  • NUTRITIONAL INITIATIVE : Local smallholder farmers can get involved in school feeding is suggested by experts.
  • A LIVELIHOOD MODEL : It should links local smallholder farmers with the mid-day meal system for the supply of cereals, vegetables, and eggs, while meeting protein and hidden hunger needs.

This could diversify production and farming systems, transform rural livelihoods and the local economy, and fulfill the ‘Atmanirbhar Poshan’ (nutritional self-sufficiency) agenda.

  • DECENTRALISATION : The COVID-19 crisis has also brought home the need for such decentralised models and local supply chains.
  • NUTRITION GARDENS : There are also new initiatives such as the School Nutrition (Kitchen) Garden under MDMS to provide fresh vegetables for mid-day meals.
  • LOGISTIC SUPPORT : Besides ensuring these are functional, hot meals can be provided to eligible children with a plan to prepare and distribute the meal in the school mid-day meal centre.

EXAMPLE
This is similar to free urban canteens or community kitchens for the elderly and others in distress in States like Odisha.

  • AWARENESS : Adequate awareness about of the availability of the scheme is needed.
  • DOUBLING FARMERS INCOME : Locally produced vegetables and fruits may be added to the MDMS, also providing an income to local farmers.
  • PROTEIN INTAKE : Besides, distribution of eggs where feasible (and where a State provision is already there) can be carried out.

      IASbhai Windup: 

  • DISSEMINATION OF KNOWLEDGE : Knowledge regarding foods avail essential nutrients for proper growth and development is important .
  • A RECIPE COMPETITION : Nutritious recipes must be given to the mothers & encourage them to indulge their children in good eating habits etc
  • ADDRESSING THE CRUX : Reducing under-nutrition requires effective implementation of both nutrition-specific and complementary nutrition-sensitive interventions.
       SOURCES:   THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | Schools – the beginning of the end of malnutrition | UPSC

 

TRENDING NOW : Important The Hindu Editorials 

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