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India Faces Nutrition Crisis Despite Growing Prosperity

India’s Hindustan Times reports on “a striking contrast between rising economic prosperity and stagnating rates of malnutrition” in Mumbai, where “80,000 children … are malnourished, according to government data, a statistic that makes Mumbai the most malnourished city in India.” The newspaper writes, “Malnourishment in Mumbai could actually be worse than India believes,” because estimates are based “on data provided by Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), a government child-care program that reaches only a quarter of children in the city’s slums.”

“Despite three decades of economic growth averaging around six percent … [n]early half of the world’s underweight children are Indians,” according to the Times (Bhattacharya, 10/12). “India is still debating a controversial [suggestion] by the head of the planning commission … that the official poverty line should be lowered to just 32 rupees per person per day for families in urban India and 26 rupees for rural areas (that’s $0.65 and $0.48, respectively),” Global Post’s “The Rice Bowl” blog reports, adding, “[A]s the story of Mumbai’s malnutrition problems suggests, India’s increasing wealth disparity is a problem that’s as complicated as it is worrying — particularly because government delivery on welfare programs is notoriously bad” (Overdorf, 10/13).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.