The 'Million-Dollar Question': Why Does Hunger Stalk India?

By Mehul Srivastava - 2012-10-25T09:46:33Z

Photograph by Sanjit Das/Bloomberg

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Insidious Malnourishment

In India's villages, decades after the country became self-sufficient in food, an insidious malnourishment has taken the place of what were once empty stomachs.

Indians today eat enough to fill their stomachs -- just not enough to stay healthy.

More alarming is what economists call India's nutrition paradox: falling calorie counts at a time of real rising income. Essentially, Indians have gotten measurably better-off while consuming fewer calories a day. In 1973, villagers ate just under 2,300 calories a day, according to the National Sample Survey Office, a branch of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

By 2010 daily caloric intake had dropped to about 2,020, compared with the government's floor of 2,400 a day to qualify for food aid. The mismatch manifests itself in some of the world's worst scorecards for health: Half of all children under three weigh too little for their age; eight in 10 are anemic.

To read Mehul Srivastava's full feature click here.

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