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Editorials/Opinions Analyses For UPSC 9 November 2021

Contents

  1. A vital cog in Bongaigaon’s response to malnutrition
  2. It’s time to engage in ‘lawfare’

A vital cog in Bongaigaon’s response to malnutrition

Context:

It is said that Project Sampoorna which was successfully implemented in Bongaigaon district of Assam is a model that can be easily implemented anywhere in reducing child malnutrition.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Issues related to poverty and hunger, Welfare Schemes, Government Policies and Initiatives, Issues arising out of the design and implementation of schemes)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Status of Malnutrition in India
  2. Causes of Malnutrition in India
  3. Challenges in addressing Child Nutrition:
  4. What is Project Sampoorna?
  1. Effective Implementation of Sampoorna: Interlinking with schemes
  2. Significance/Achievements of Project Sampoorna
  3. Other steps taken by the government to tackle malnutrition

Status of Malnutrition in India

  • India is home to 46.6 million stunted children, a third of world’s total as per Global Nutrition Report 2018.
  • Nearly half of all under-5 child mortality in India is attributable to undernutrition.
  • Trend in Malnutrition: Despite decreasing stunting by one fifth during last decade, almost one in three Indian children under five years i.e. 31.4% of children will still remain stunted by the 2022.
  • Inter and Intra State Variations in Malnutrition is found in country with highest levels of stunting and underweight are being found in Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
  • Prevalence of Multiple Types of Malnutrition among Children: Multiple burden of malnutrition is the coexistence of any two or all three measures of malnutrition: stunting, wasting and underweight.
  • Children born to women with low BMI and low education level are more likely to be stunted, wasted, and underweight compared to children born to women with normal or high BMI.
  • Iron deficiency anaemia remains a major public health concern in India where half of women 15- 49 years of age are anaemic, regardless of age, residence or pregnancy status.

Causes of Malnutrition in India

  • Poverty: It hinders the accessibility of adequate food.
  • Lack of Awareness: about nutritional needs of infants and young children.
  • Social strains on Women: Early marriages of girls leads to teenage pregnancies resulting in low birth weight of the new-borns, poor breastfeeding practices and poor complementary feeding practices.
  • Male domination: In most Indian families, women even take food after the male members where they get less nutritious food.
  • Lack of health infrastructure leads to poor access to health.
  • Lack of availability of safe drinking water hinders proper digestion and assimilation of food and also cause water and food borne diseases.
  • Poor sanitation and environmental conditions lead to spread of many diseases that sap children’s energy and stunts their growth.
  • Other causes: illiteracy in women and large household size.

Challenges in addressing Child Nutrition:

  • Health Concerns: The highest risk factor for a high-risk pregnancy is anaemia which is usually nutritional.
  • Vicious Cycle of Malnutrition: A malnourished child grows into an unhealthy adolescent, and then an anaemic pregnant young woman gives birth to an asphyxiated low birth weight baby. This becomes a vicious cycle.
  • Social Evils: The child struggles further for nutrition. The major hindrance to the project was patriarchy which affects the mother’s decision making powers indirectly affecting the child’s nutrition levels also.
  • Structural Challenges: District Nutritional Rehabilitation Centres (NRCs) typically contain up to 20 beds, and taking in 200 children with severe acute malnutrition on a monthly basis is not feasible. After being discharged and if not properly managed, the treated youngster may revert to a Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) condition.

What is Project Sampoorna?

  • The Bongaigaon district has 2,416 malnourished children, 246 cases of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) and 2,170 instances of Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM).
  • Project Sampoorna was launched to target the mothers of SAM/ MAM children with the tagline being ‘Empowered Mothers, Healthy Children’.
  • It was based on the success of the community-based COVID-19 management model (Project Mili Juli).
  • Under this project, the mother of a healthy child of an Anganwadi Centre was paired with the target mother and they would be Buddy Mothers.
  • They were given diet charts to indicate the daily food intake of their children and would have discussions on all Tuesdays at the AWC.
  • Since the major hindrance to the project was patriarchy, the mothers were enrolled in Self Help Groups (SHGs) under the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM).
  • Meanwhile, 100 millilitres of milk and an egg on alternate days for the children for the first 3months were provided so that their mothers could stabilise themselves in the newly found jobs.

Effective Implementation of Sampoorna: Interlinking with schemes

  • Sampoorna is in accordance with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and those set by the UN Secretary General António Guterres in the 2021 Food Systems Summit.
  • It complements in achieving the ‘Kuposhan mukt Bharat’ (Malnutrition Free India) and the National Nutrition Mission – POSHAN Abhiyaan.
  • It was during Poshan Maah (Nutrition Month) in September 2020 that 2,416 children were identified to be malnourished in the district of Bongaigaon.
  • The National Family Health Survey (NHFS)-5) has documented the stunted, wasted, underweight and the number of anaemic women and children in the district.
  • Project Saubhagya that was designed to reduce the maternal mortality rate and infant mortality rate of the district was utilized to endorse these figures.
  • A real time data sheet is updated by field-level doctors as and when a high risk pregnancy is identified, which is then followed up till safe delivery.

Significance and Achievements of Project Sampoorna

  • The Sampoorna project has resulted in a reduction in child malnutrition with an almost minimal financial commitment.
  • Sampoorna is in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, as well as those laid out by UN Secretary General António Guterres at the Food Systems Summit.
  • It focuses on the need for resilient food systems and social protection.

Impact

  • After three months of Project Sampoorna, out of 246 SAM children, 11% continued to be SAM, 11.4% improved to MAM and 76.8%became normal.
  • By September 2021, 92.3% SAM and 98.9% MAM children were normal.
  • Children who had not improved were checked and treated by doctors under the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK).
  • Project Sampoorna had prevented at least 1,200 children from becoming malnourished over the last year.
  • The National Nutrition Mission and the State government recognised the project in the ‘Innovation Category’.
  • This model is successful in both women empowerment as well as tackling the malnutrition.

Other steps taken by the government to tackle malnutrition

  • Scheme for Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) which began in 1975, seeks to provide food, preschool education, primary healthcare, vaccination, health check-ups, and referral services to children under the age of six and their mothers.
  • The National Food Security Act (NFSA) of 2013 intends to promote food and nutrition security for the most disadvantaged people by establishing a legal right to food through its accompanying schemes and programmes.
  • The Mid-day Meal (MDM) Programme attempts to increase schoolchildren’s nutritional status, which has a direct and beneficial influence on enrolment, retention, and attendance.
  • Under Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY), Rs.6,000 is given directly to the bank accounts of pregnant women in order to provide better delivery facilities.

-Source: The Hindu


It’s time to engage in ‘lawfare’

Context:

International laws cover wide array of security issues ranging from terrorism to maritime security – hence, there is a need to explore India’s utilization of the international laws to advance its national security interests.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Foreign Policies affecting India, India’s Neighbours)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Lawfare?
  2. India’s use of International Laws
  3. Understanding India’s Lawfare deficiencies

What is Lawfare?

In simple words, Lawfare means using law as a weapon of national security. 

Lawfare is a term that can have a double meaning, but in both cases relates to using legal systems and institutions to achieve a goal

  • The misuse of legal systems and principles against an enemy, such as by damaging or delegitimizing them, wasting their time and money (e.g. SLAPP suits), or winning a public relations victory.
  • A tactic used by repressive regimes to label and discourage civil society or individuals from claiming their legal rights via national or international legal systems. This is especially common in situations when individuals and civil society use non-violent methods to highlight or oppose discrimination, corruption, lack of democracy, limiting freedom of speech, violations of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law.

India’s use of International Laws

  • In the Kulbhushan Jadhav case when it dragged Pakistan to the International Court of Justice and in developing international law to counter terrorism – it can be said that India has ably used international law for its national security objectives.

Non-usage of International Laws

  • First, after Pulwama attack of February 2019 by a Pakistan-based terror outfit, India struck the terror camps in Pakistan. However, in its justification for this action, India did not invoke the right to self-defense, rather, it relied on a contested doctrine of ‘non-military pre-emptive action’. 
  • Second, as per General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), countries can deviate from their MFN obligations on grounds of national security. But India did not use this provision for suspending the most favored nation (MFN) status of Pakistan after Pulwama. Instead, India increased the customs duties on all Pakistani products to 200% under Customs Tariff Act, 1975. 
  • Third, India wants to deport Rohingya refugees, as they pose a security threat. But the justification for this action is being given that India is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention, whereas, India is bound by the principle of non-refoulment to not deport them. National security is one of the exceptions to the non-refoulment principle in international refugee law, which is not used as a justification yet. 
  • However, there are also instances, like Kulbhushan Jadhav case and pushing for international law to counter terrorism, where India has utilised international laws effectively. 

Understanding India’s Lawfare deficiencies

  • First, International lawyers are marginally involved in foreign policymaking. Legal and Treaties Division of the Ministry of External Affairs is understaffed and also ignored in policy making. This division was formed to advice government on international law matters. 
  • Second, ministries like Commerce and Finance with negligible expertise in international law, also deal with different facets of international law. 
  • Third, Institutions created to undertake cutting-edge research in international law are suffering from low research quality and neglect.
  • Fourth, many of the outstanding international law scholars have failed to international law among the larger public. 

-Source: The Hindu

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