[Solved] Hunger and poverty are the bigger challenges for good governance in India still today. Evaluate how far successive governments have progressed in dealing with these humongous problems. Suggest measures for improvement (UPSC GS-1 Mains 2017)
India is on track to become a global power. However, despite economic miracles, many Indians still live in abject poverty. According to the latest GHI, India, which ranks 100 out of 119 countries, is one of the countries with the “lowest reduction in hunger” in the nine years since the last index was calculated.
• According to UN report India is home to 23.4% of world’s hungry.
• In India, undernutrition is the most common indicator of poverty, a fact government data acknowledges.
- One of the problems that we are inherited from Britishers is hunger, after green revolution production of food grains improved enormously, still hunger is a biggest problem in our country.
- Indexes like global hunger index report reveals our under performance. Successive govts through their schemes like, PDS, Food for Work program, RPDS, TPDS, National food security act distributing the food grains at minimum price.
- When it comes to poverty according to rangarajan report it is 29%. Hunger, ill health, poverty is a never ending vicious cycle. schemes like MGNREGA , area development programs also could not lift the people out of poverty.
- Unless you break that vicious cycle we can’t solve the entire problem comprehensively. In receiving the govt welfare schemes identity becomes the issue for most of the migrant and nomadic groups , so much of food grains lying idle and wasting in go downs.
- Corruption at various levels is also aggravating the problem of hunger. For removal poverty govt thinking to bring universal basic income (UBI) scheme.
- May be it is a good idea, but unless you solve basic problems like food, health, education poverty can’t be removed completely.
- Creating an employment which will provide a sustainable income is biggest challenging to the govt. Sanitation is one of the major factor pushing the people into the poverty because of costly Medicare. So govt need to adopt a multipronged strategy to eliminate this menace.
- Reduction in absolute poverty: According to a UNDP report, India lifted 271 million people out of poverty between 2006 and 2016, recording the fastest reductions in the multidimensional poverty index values.
- Reduced poverty rate: According to the world bank, India has achieved annual growth exceeding 7% over the last 15 years that halved its poverty rate since the 1990s. The World Bank’s estimate of the number of people living on less than $1.90 per day on a purchasing power parity basis, found that poverty declined from 21.6% to an estimated 13.4% between 2011 and 2015.
- Removed extreme poverty: As of 2018, India is no longer home to the highest number of extremely poor people in the world. According to the Brookings Institution, extreme poverty continues to fall in India.
- Reduced IMR: According to India Spend, India has reduced its infant mortality rate (IMR) by 42% over 11 years, from 57 in 2006 to 33 per 1,000 live births in 2017. In 2017, India’s rural areas had an IMR of 37 and urban areas 23.
- Reduced MMR: Further, India has registered a 26.9% reduction in Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) since 2013, according to the Sample Registration System Bulletin-2016.
- Increased food security: Government has launched various efforts like the National food security act, that has led to increased food security.According to the 2018 Global Nutrition Report (GNR 2018), there is increased food security and access has led to fewer malnourished and anaemic Indians in 2017 than in the preceding decade.
- Reduced stunting: India has shown improvement in reducing child stunting but with 46.6 million stunted children, according to the GNR 2018 report, the country is home to over 30.9% of all stunted children under five–the highest in the world.
Challenge of hunger and poverty in India still remains:
- The latest Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2019 has ranked India a lowly 102 among the 117 countries slipped from 95th position in 2010. On the whole, the 2019 GHI report has found that the number of hungry people has risen from 785 million in 2015 to 822 million.
- Malnutrition amongst children in India is projected to remain high, despite all the progress made in food security. Almost one in three Indian children under five years will still be malnourished by 2022 going by current trends.
- Access to food has not increased. Food-grain yields have risen 33% over the last two decades, but are still only half of 2030 target yields. The consumer’s access to rice, wheat and other cereals has not increased at the same rate, due to population growth, inequality, food wastage and losses, and exports.
- Despite positive trends and patterns in improving food security, the prevalence of hunger in India remains high, with many people, especially women and children,suffering from micronutrient deficiency.
- It is estimated 23.6% of Indian population, or about 276 million people, is living below $1.25 per day on purchasing power parity.
- An analysis of the consumption expenditure numbers reported by the National Statistical Office (NSO) suggests that rural poverty rose nearly 4% between 2011-12 and 2017-18 to 30%.
- According to Oxfam, India’s top 1% of the population now holds 73% of the wealth while 670 million citizens, comprising the country’s poorest half, saw their wealth rise by just 1%.
- Given the higher weight of the rural population, the estimated overall poverty rate went up nearly a percentage point to 23 percent in 2017-18. The rise implies that 30 million people fell below India’s official poverty line and joined the ranks of the poor over the past six years.
Schemes for reducing poverty and hunger:
In India, successive governments have adopted multiple strategies to tackle these problems, including distribution of free or subsidized food, provision of jobs under various schemes, Mid-day meal, etc.
• ICDS: it has made major strides in its implementation and has helped in reducing malnutrition amongst children aged between 0-3 years drastically. Also, by focusing on expectant mothers, this scheme has helped target the most ignored section bearing the brunt of this evil.
• TDPS and PDS (Targeted Public Distribution system and Public Distribution System): The PDS in India is one of the largest distribution system of its type across the globe. It ensures the availability of food at subsidized prices at the household level to the poor.
• In a comparative national study of 26,000 rural households on income, employment and household wellbeing found that MGNREGA had prevented 14 million people from falling into poverty that year, and reduced the number of people below the poverty line by between 25% and 32%.
• Lack of coordination: National Food Security Act which was passed in 2013 includes three schemes that can help with improving nutrition. The schemes are implemented by different departments of the government, each working in isolation from the other.
• Ineffective strategy: The approach for tackling hunger in urban areas is same as that of rural areas.
Activists working on food security believe that India’s policies for tackling hunger have largely remained focused on rural regions.
• At present there are no specific government interventions to address the issue of adult undernourishment.
• lack of access to healthcare facilities: Most rural areas don’t have a child-specialist to treat children with severe and moderate malnutrition.
Stunting: an outcome of poor nutrition in which a child is shorter for his or her age, has been found to adversely impact school performance
• Even in NREGA gram Sabha (village councils) have been unable to formulate effective programmes or enrol genuinely needy people.
• Stable employment would help improve the well-being of both undernourished mother and her child. In rural areas too, scarcity of jobs has led to migration which makes families including children more vulnerable to hunger.
• Outcomes can be improved through capacity enhancement and transparency at the local government level, and by targeting MGNREGA works towards creating productivity and income-enhancing community assets or, in special cases, assets on participants’ lands.
• Human resource capacity building is the key as is access to education and health services and empowering the poor through partnerships.
• In particular, programmes must focus on women and girls. Longstanding discrimination against women and girls, which affects their access to food, sanitation, care, and health services, is a key driver of poor nutrition outcomes in India