By Anila Kurian:
Bones popping out of the body, the sunken eyes, drooping faces, swollen belly, chapped lips and shrivelled skin are the physical description of someone who is malnourished. Due to lack of food and insufficient health supply, many in our country suffer from this heartbreaking disease. As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, malnutrition is a national shame.
Malnutrition in India is not news to any of us. Even though we live in big cities with posh houses and cars, we still get plenty of chances to come across a malnourished child whom we generally don’t help. We consider them to be low and just shut our windows when they beg for some money for their survival. When you do such a thing, have you ever put yourself in their shoes and wondered how you would’ve felt if someone scrolled up the window on your face?
Every third child in our country is malnourished, while half of the 55 million children die because of this. The country’s GDP maybe high, but majority of the children under five years of age is immensely underweight. They have no source of gaining their weight back or stay healthy, as rich people like us, or even the government isn’t taking enough actions to help them out. Despite the starvation crisis that Africa goes through, they somehow look good next to the malnourished in India. This obviously leaves us wondering how ignorant our country is trying to be towards the poorer strata.
One of the major reasons for this is because of the mothers who are under-weight themselves. They have to work all day even during their pregnancy and with the very little food they get, they eventually drain out. Their stamina is bound to go down along with the new life that they are carrying. The foetus however eats up whatever they want when they are in the womb, but the lack of nutrition while they are growing up hits them as early as the age-of-two. The ones who suffer this cannot afford vitamin and iron tablets and thus grow weaker and weaker. If they are lucky, they don’t have to suffer for a long time.
The major cities that suffer from malnutrition are Madhya Pradesh with the highest rate of 55% and Kerala being the lowest of 27%. Statistically, the difference between the highest and the lowest isn’t that low compared to how luxuriously we live. Back in 2008, the MP’s of our country decided to do something good for our country and received 131 signatures to help solve the problem of malnutrition. They started a candlelight vigil to highlight child malnutrition in India, and took the signatures to the parliament. When the President finally approved of this wonderful act, everyone went and lit their candles, taking an oath to help solve this issue. This did help initially, but the enthusiasm eventually faded out as days went on and new candidates took over the political stands. This was just an act till the candles they held that evening waxed out.
We are all aware of this issue but we generally don’t do anything about it. It might not be possible for us to put our lives on halt and help everyone who is malnourished, but next time you see a child who has no means of proper food, buy them something. You can visit NGOs and contribute some of your time. If we don’t save our country, our people, who else will?
The children who suffer from malnutrition are the future of India and we shouldn’t just ignore it. Let the future generations of our country live a better life Â than that we could. Let’s unite against child malnutrition and help make our world a better place for you and me.