Saturday, March 6, 2010

Yedurappa and Dr Manmohan Singh

"Nutrition Commission for Children"

By Delhi correspondent

Veena Rao formerly Secretary to Union Ministry of North Eastern Council has been appointed
as Chairman of Nutrition Commission of Karnataka, to evolve strategies to bring in nutrition
revolution in the state of Karnataka. This is the pet subject of Dr Manmohan Singh, but
Yedurappa is implementing the scheme.

Malnutrition is a shame for India, the prime minister has repeatedly stressed. But beyond making such statements very little has been done to provide nutrition to hungry children of the poor. Now Karnataka has made a start in that direction.

A comprehensive nutrition mission to bring down the number of children suffering from malnutrition in the state has been proposed by the B.S. Yeddyurappa government in its state budget. 

Yeddyurappa said: “The number of children suffering from malnutrition is very significant in our state. Special efforts are required to be made for overcoming this problem. The government proposes to start a Comprehensive Nutrition Mission.”

In Karnataka, 37.6% of children are underweight, 28.1% of the population is undernourished and 5.5% of children who die under the age of 5 die from hunger, according to independent estimates.  

The pilot project has been allotted Rs 5 crore. The mission to eradicate malnutrition is said to have had the strong backing of Chief Secretary S V Ranganath and was is the brainchild of Veena S Rao, an IAS officer of Karnataka cadre who is an expert on the subject. Veena recently retired as secretary to the government of India.

According to a decade-old World Bank study, nearly half of the children (47 percent) in India suffer from malnutrition, a figure second only to Bangladesh. Eradicating this problem is one of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) but there is no action on the ground.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his successive Independence Day speeches has said that malnutrition in India remains a matter of shame. Yet, the centre or the state governments have never taken an initiative to check it at the grassroots level. The Karnataka move, however, brings with it some hope that the other states may follow suit. 

Apart from this special provision for malnutrition in the budget for nutrition, the state will also provide Rs.380 crore for the next year for security to 7.21 lakh girls from poor families under the Bhagyalakshmi scheme. 

The institutions running schools for mentally retarded, blind, autistic children and children suffering from other handicaps will be given Rs.20 crore under the budget.


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