Malnutrition in India is a complex issue. The country grows sufficient
food, has a functional democratic system with effective feedback
mechanisms, the world’s largest public distribution system in place for
food delivery and an extensive network of state mechanisms to reach
every citizen in the country. Enough policy attention has also been paid
to health and nutrition issues in recent years for it to have been
classified as having 'strong' Nutrition Governance (with the maximum
score of 11) by the WHO's Landscape Analysis study (WHO 2009). Yet, its
malnutrition rates remain high.
This report seeks to understand why, despite many of the right
ingredients, has India not had greater success with reducing the
malnutrition of its children? It does so by analysing India's recent
policy experience with reducing rates of child malnutrition. It uses a
series of interviews conducted in New Delhi in August 2011 to identify
the main factors credited with the improvement in nutrition levels, and
to understand the challenges that remain. In order to nuance the country
study and to capture part of India’s complexity, a short case study of
Orissa - based on additional interviews conducted in the state capital
Bhubaneswar - is included to understand the state's remarkable 10 point
decrease in underweight figures between 1998-99 and 2005-06.
Following the introduction, Section 2 of the report considers issues of
data and monitoring, Section 3 identifies the main factors that have
contributed to India's recent success with reducing malnutrition rates.
Sections 4, 5 and 6 analyse why nutrition rates have not come down
further or faster, and divide the explanations between; (a) a lack of
horizontal coordination, (b) siloed, bureaucratic vertical articulation,
and (c) inadequate financial outlays. Section 7 presents a case study of
Orissa, a state that has demonstrated important improvements to reduce
the incidence of malnutrition. Section 8 considers the challenges that
remain and identifies key entry points for policy interventions.
Mohmand, S. K. Policies Without Politics: Analysing Nutrition Governance in India. Analysing Nutrition Governance:India Country Report. Institute of Development Studies, Brighton, UK (2012) 31 pp.
Policies Without Politics: Analysing Nutrition Governance in India. Analysing Nutrition Governance: India Country Report.