New Delhi, Nov 19 (IANS) President Pranab Mukherjee Monday said inclusive growth cannot be achieved unless the country is rid of malnutrition.
Lunching a nationwide information, education and communication campaign against malnutrition, the president said: "At a time when the Indian economy is on a strong positive growth trajectory, at a time when we are making rapid strides not only in agricultural sciences but also in health and medical sciences, the anomaly of malnutrition is indefensible."
"Until we ensure good nutrition and health for our children and their mothers, we cannot achieve our targets of sustained and inclusive growth. Utmost priority must be accorded to prevent malnutrition to avert irreversible cumulative deficits in the growth and development of our young," he said.
Speaking at the launch of a media campaign against malnutrition, actor−producer Aamir Khan said: "I appeal to the ASHAs, Anganwadi workers, sarpanchs, you are the foot soldiers. I appeal to all of them to take this very seriously and make this movement successful."
Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath meanwhile said many parents were not aware of how to give proper nutrition to their children, and the campaign will spread information regarding that.
According to official estimates, every third woman in India is undernourished and every second woman is anaemic. The inter−generational cycle of malnutrition is continuously perpetuated, with a high incidence of low birth weight −− about 22 per cent −− and greater susceptibility of infants to infection, growth failure and anaemia. Two out of five children, or 42.5 percent of children under five years in India are underweight.
Factors causing malnutrition include household food insecurity, illiteracy, poor environmental conditions, lack of awareness −− especially among women −− inadequate access to health services, safe drinking water and sanitation, and inadequate purchasing power.
The programme will spread the message across the country in 18 languages, through television, radio, print and other media against malnutrition.
Others present included Union Minister of Human Resource Development M.M. Pallam Raju, Louis Georges Arsenault, UNICEF India Head and lyricist, Prasoon Joshi.