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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 29 October 2022


Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 29 October 2022


Contents

  1. Need to focusing on nutrition than hunger
  2. India-UK Relations : a New High

Need To Focusing on Nutrition Than Hunger


Context

The article critically examines the Global Hunger Index (GHI) in light of its recent edition, which placed India in the “serious” category, trailing all South Asian countries except war-torn Afghanistan. According to the article, the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), unlike the GHI, does a good job of providing comparative state-level data, including the main indicators that determine health and nutrition.

Relevance

GS paper 2: Issues related to poverty and hunger, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection of vulnerable sections of society etc

Mains Question

Despite significant advances in nutritional security, India’s ranking in the Global Hunger Index remains a source of concern. Analyze critically. (150 Words)


Background

  • India was ranked 107th out of 123 countries in the recently released Global Hunger Index report 2022 (17th edition), down from 101st in 2021.
  • The government has rejected the report, claiming it is an attempt to “taint” India, questioning its methodology, and emphasising the government’s significant efforts to improve access to foodgrains for India’s poor.

Concerning the Global Hunger Index (GHI)

  • The GHI is an annual publication launched in 2006 by Welthungerhilfe (a German private aid organisation) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    • In 2018, IFPRI ceased to be a publisher. Since then, two European NGOs, Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide, have released the GHI.
  • Yardstick: The index is based on four indicators: child malnutrition, child stunting, child wasting, and child mortality.
  • Scores: The overall score is assigned on a scale of 100 points, with a lower score being better (0 means no hunger).

GHI’s Restrictions

  • No regional database: The Global Hunger Index (GHI) measures and ranks countries on a hunger index at the global, regional, and national levels, but not at the sub-national level, where some Indian states perform better.
  • Unbalanced indicators: The GHI’s stated goal is to reduce hunger worldwide. However, its methodology focuses disproportionately on children under the age of five.
  • No comprehensive picture: GHI focuses governmental attention on cross-national comparisons, leading to the rejection of underlying issues and the sidelining of public discourse.
  • Lack of conceptual clarity: The GHI uses childhood mortality and nutrition indicators, but it views hunger as a food production challenge, as stated in the preamble: “Communities, civil society organisations, small producers, farmers, and indigenous groups… shape how access to nutritious food is governed.”
    • According to the FAO, India is the world’s largest producer and consumer of grain, as well as the largest producer of milk, at a time when per capita consumption of grain, vegetables, and milk has increased dramatically.
    • It is thus contentious and unacceptable to group India with countries experiencing severe food shortages, as GHI has done.

India’s viewpoint

  • National Family Health Survey (NFHS): Unlike the GHI, the NFHS provides comparative state-level data on health and nutrition, as well as the key indicators that influence health and nutrition.
    • Indicators: The National Center for Health Statistics provides estimates of underweight (low weight for age), stunting (low height for age), and wasting (low weight for height).
  • Importance: NFHS conditions disproportionately affect preschool children (those under the age of six) and jeopardise a child’s physical and mental development while also increasing susceptibility to infections.
    • Additionally, undernourished mothers, as a result of social and cultural practises, give birth to low-birth-weight babies who are susceptible to infections and carry their handicaps into childhood and adolescence.

Concerning the NFHS

  • It contains detailed information on key domains of population, health, and family welfare, as well as associated domains such as population characteristics, fertility, family planning, infant and child mortality, maternal and child health, nutrition and anaemia, morbidity and healthcare, women’s empowerment, and so on.
  • Expanded scope: In comparison to the previous round of the survey (NFHS-4), the scope of NFHS-5 has been expanded by adding new dimensions such as:
    • Death registration, pre-school education, expanded domains of child immunisation, micronutrient components for children, menstrual hygiene, frequency of alcohol and tobacco use, additional components of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), expanded age range for measuring hypertension and diabetes among all aged 15 and above.

Nutritional difficulties

  • Breastfeeding is one of the first nutritional challenges for children. According to NFHS 5, only 42% of infants are breastfed within one hour of birth, which is the recommended standard.
    • By not being breastfed, an infant misses out on the benefits of developing antibodies against infections, allergies, and even protection against a variety of chronic diseases.
  • Young child feeding practises: Causes such as not introducing semi-solid food after six months, breastfeeding for much longer than the recommended six months, and providing food lacking in nutritional diversity threaten child health.
    • According to NFHS 5, the improvement has been marginal over the last two reports, and states such as Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Assam, UP, and Gujarat are at the bottom.
  • Poor nutrition: The third problem is the result of poor nutrition. According to NFHS 5, the percentage of stunted, wasted, and underweight children is 36%, 19%, and 32%, respectively.
    • Unsettling trends: It is concerning that states such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Jharkhand have fallen below their own levels from five years ago. Overall, the percentage of children suffering from anaemia has increased by eight percentage points, from 59% in NFHS 4 to 67% in NFHS 5.
    • A large part of this is due to the mistaken belief that manufactured snacks are “good food.” This phenomenon has been observed in both urban slums and rural villages.
  • Cleanliness: According to CHETNA, a non-governmental organisation that works for women’s and children’s health and nutrition in three states (Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan) by observing home practises, young children are allowed to run around while eating, exposing the food to flies, dust, and heat.
    • The NGO also discovered that when children need nutrition-dense food to develop, they are weaned on watery liquid from cooked grain.

Solutions

  • Nutritional plan: The WHO and UNICEF recommend that breastfeeding begin within the first hour of birth and that infants be breastfed exclusively for the first six months.
    • According to NFHS 5, the percentage improvement of children who were exclusively breastfed when they were under six months in India increased from 55% in NFHS 4 to 64% in NFHS 5.
  • Broad perspective: The majority of these food distribution programmes benefit children attending anganwadis or schools, adolescents, and pregnant and lactating mothers. This must continue, but newborns, infants, and toddlers require special care as well.
  • Education: India has successfully overcome problems such as reduced maternal and child mortality, improved access to sanitation, safe drinking water, and safe cooking fuel.
    • Families can also be encouraged to start kitchen gardens and raise poultry to meet their nutritional needs.

Conclusion

No more time should be wasted on the distorted and irrelevant GHI rankings. Instead, states should be urged to investigate the NFHS findings in order to chart a new course for improving nutrition practises for the youngest and most vulnerable members of society.


India-UK Relations : A New High


Context

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke by phone with new British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. During their conversation, both leaders agreed on the importance of completing a “comprehensive and balanced” trade agreement as soon as possible.

Relevance

GS Paper – 2: Bilateral Groupings & Agreements, Groupings & Agreements Involving India and/or Affecting India’s Interests, Effect of Policies & Politics of Countries on India’s Interests

Mains Question

“New geopolitical realities necessitate a new strategic vision from the United Kingdom and India.” It is time to seize the opportunity and lay the groundwork for a partnership capable of meeting the challenges of the twenty-first century.” Comment (250 Words)


India-United Kingdom Bilateral Relationship

  • In 2004, the bilateral relationship was elevated to a Strategic partnership.
  • An ambitious ‘Roadmap 2030’ was adopted during the May 2021 virtual summit between the PMs of both countries.
    • This roadmap will pave the way for bilateral ties to be elevated to a ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.’
  • India was identified as a priority relationship for the UK in the 2021 Integrated Review, and the UK invited India as a guest to last year’s G7 in Carbis Bay.

Economic commitments

  • During the virtual summit in May 2021, India and the United Kingdom announced a ‘Enhanced Trade Partnership’ (ETP).
    • This initiative was launched to maximise the trade potential between these two countries.
  • Trade o Total trade between India and the United Kingdom was $17.5 billion.
    • During the fiscal year 2021-2022, the United Kingdom is India’s 17th largest trading partner.
    • India and the United Kingdom formally began negotiations for an ambitious free trade agreement in January 2022. (FTA).
  • By 2030, the FTA aims to increase bilateral trade to $100 billion.
    • Both parties were expected to sign the FTA by Diwali, but they fell short due to a lack of consensus and a change in UK political leadership.
  • Indian investment in the UK: India invested in 99 projects and created 4,830 new jobs in the UK in order to maintain its position as the second-largest source of FDI after the US in 2020.
    • UK investment in India: After Mauritius, Singapore, the United States, the Netherlands, and Japan, the United Kingdom is the sixth largest inward investor in India, with a cumulative equity investment of US $ 31.6 million (April 2000-December 2021), accounting for approximately 6% of all FDI into India.

Defence

  • During PM Modi’s 2015 visit to the UK, leaders from both countries pledged a new Defence and International Security Partnership (DISP).
  • In October 2020, India and the United Kingdom reached an agreement on a key defence logistics pact that will allow for reciprocal use of airfields, bases, spares, and supplies.
  • Following the agreement, India will have access to ports and military bases ranging from the Garrisons in the Gulf to Keeling Island in the South Indian Ocean, as well as strategic military locations such as Busan and Okinawa.

Cultural Connections

  • 2017 was designated as the India-UK Year of Culture to commemorate India’s 70th anniversary of independence.
  • The Indian Prime Minister refers to the relationship between the peoples of both countries as a “living bridge.”
  • Britain announced its intention to mint a coin commemorating Mahatma Gandhi in August 2020.

The Indian Diaspora

  • According to the 2011 census, approximately 1.5 million people of Indian origin live in the United Kingdom, accounting for nearly 1.8 percent of the population and contributing 6% of the country’s GDP.
  • In 2017, the Indian government bestowed the Pravasi Bhartiya Samman on British MP of Indian origin Priti Patel and British Member of the European Parliament (MEP) of Indian origin Neena Gill.

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