Revising Growth Standards to Measure Malnutrition
Syllabus: GS2/Health, Government policies & interventions
- The Indian Council of Medical Research has constituted a committee to revise the Growth Standards to measure malnutrition in India.
- This committee has recommended a detailed rigorous study to be conducted across the country to examine child growth with the purpose of devising national growth charts.
What is Malnutrition?
- Malnutrition refers to deficiencies or excesses in nutrient intake, imbalance of essential nutrients or impaired nutrient utilization.
- The term malnutrition covers 2 broad groups of conditions.
- Undernutrition—which includes stunting (low height for age), wasting (low weight for height), underweight (low weight for age) and micronutrient deficiencies or insufficiencies (a lack of important vitamins and minerals).
- Overweight, obesity and diet-related noncommunicable diseases (such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer).
World Health Organization (WHO) Growth Standards To Measure Malnutrition
- The WHO Child Growth Standards are a diagnostic tool used to monitor and assess the nutritional status of infants and children up to the age of 5.
- By tracking children’s height and body weight, the standards detect children or populations not growing properly, or who are underweight or at risk of being overweight.
- The most common measures of childhood undernutrition are based on anthropometric standards such as height-for-age (stunting/chronic undernutrition) and weight-for-height (wasting/acute undernutrition).
- India, like most other countries, uses the globally accepted World Health Organization (WHO) Growth Standards to measure malnutrition.
Need to Revise the Growth Standards to Measure Malnutrition in India
- Basis of WHO standards: The WHO standards are based on a Multicentre Growth Reference Study (MGRS) that was conducted in six countries between 1997 and 2003 (Brazil, Ghana, India, Norway, Oman and the United States).
- The purpose was to determine the pattern of growth (from birth to five years) of children who did not face any known deficiencies in their environments.
- Population Diversity: India has a very diverse population having different dietary patterns.
- The indicators should consider the diverse socio-economic, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds within the country.
- Breastfeeding Practices: Take into account the prevalence and duration of breastfeeding practices in India.
- Breastfeeding patterns can significantly influence the growth of infants and young children.
- Can be Misleading: Such comparisons could also be misleading because the study norms of the WHO-MGRS are very different.
- For example, the MGRS included a component of counselling to ensure appropriate feeding practices, which is obviously missing in the NFHS or Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey.
- Misdiagnosis: Another serious concern is related to inappropriately high standards leading to a misdiagnosis of the situation, and a resultant potential overfeeding of misclassified children under programmes of the government introduced to address undernutrition, thereby resulting in an increase in overweight and obesity.
- Other Parameters: High levels of child undernutrition have been a persistent problem in India.
- It is well recognised that the determinants of undernutrition are multiple, and include food intake, dietary diversity, health, sanitation, women’s status and the overarching context of poverty.
Steps Taken by Government of India to Eliminate Malnutrition in India
- Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS): It provides a package of services, including supplementary nutrition, immunization, health check-ups, and preschool education, to children under the age of 6 years and their mothers.
- National Health Mission (NHM): It includes initiatives such as the Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCH+A) strategy, which addresses maternal and child health, family planning, and nutrition.
- Poshan Abhiyan (National Nutrition Mission): Launched in 2018, this mission aims to improve the nutritional status of children from 0-6 years, pregnant women, and lactating mothers.
- It focuses on reducing stunting, undernutrition, anemia, and low birth weight.
- For maximizing the nutritional outcomes, Government launched ‘Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0’ (Mission Poshan 2.0), which inter-alia, subsumes POSHAN Abhiyaan, Supplementary Nutrition Programme under Anganwadi Services and Scheme for Adolescent Girls.
- Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman: This program provides free meals to school children to improve their nutritional status, increase school attendance, and encourage education.
- The scheme covers primary and upper primary schools across the country.
- National Food Security Act (NFSA): Enacted in 2013, this act aims to provide subsidized food grains to approximately two-thirds of the population, including priority households and Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) households.
- Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY): This maternity benefit program provides financial assistance to pregnant and lactating mothers to support their health and nutrition during the early stages of motherhood.
- Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK): This program focuses on the health and development needs of adolescents, including nutrition and reproductive health.
- Anemia Mukt Bharat (AMB): Launched to combat anemia, this program aims to reduce the prevalence of anemia among pregnant women, lactating mothers, and children.
- There is no doubt that there are also many gaps to fill in the more distal determinants of stunting, mainly; livelihoods and poverty, access to education and women’s empowerment.
- These goals are inextricably linked to the overall development of the country, with equitable distribution of resources.
- Collaboration among government agencies, researchers, and healthcare professionals is crucial for the successful development and implementation of revised growth standards for measuring malnutrition in India.
- Additionally, periodic reviews and updates may be necessary to reflect changes in the population’s health and nutritional status over time.
Pradhan Mantri Janjati Adivasi Nyaya Maha Abhiyan (PM JANMAN)
- The Union Cabinet approved the Pradhan Mantri Janjati Adivasi Nyaya Maha Abhiyan (PM JANMAN), aimed at providing PVTG households and habitations with basic facilities.
PM JANMAN Scheme
- The scheme targets the development of 75 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) who have been left out by the schemes of various Ministries /Departments.
- Funding: The outlay of the scheme is Rs.24,104 crore (Central Share:Rs.15,336 crore and State Share: Rs.8,768 crore) to focus on 11 critical interventions through 9 line Ministries.
- Objective: The scheme will saturate PVTG households and habitations with basic facilities such as safe housing, clean drinking water and sanitation, improved access to education, health and nutrition, road and telecom connectivity, and sustainable livelihood opportunities.
- Ministry: There is focus on 11 critical interventions through 9 Ministries including the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. Intervention of following Ministries will also be part of Mission:
- The Ministry of Ayush will set up Ayush Wellness Centre as per existing norms and Ayush facilities will be extended to PVTG habitations through Mobile Medical Units.
- The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship will facilitate skill and vocational training in PVTG habitations, Multipurpose centers and hostels as per the suitable skills of the communities.
What does PM-JANMAN do differently?
- Participatory bottom-up approach: The scheme abandons the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach in favor of customized strategies that respect their unique needs and priorities.
- Livelihood promotion: Providing skills training and resources, like land and credit, will help in sustainable livelihoods. Implementing the Forest Rights Act by granting land titles secures access to forest resources.
- Additionally, encouraging traditional technologies and skill enhancement through industry partnerships will help maintain cultural heritage while promoting sustainable development.
- Health, nutrition and education: Outreach strategies like Mobile Medical Health Units will be crucial for providing healthcare in remote areas.
- Infrastructure development: The habitations of PVTGs often don’t meet the criteria for schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Grameen Sadak Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and Jal Jeevan Mission due to factors like population requirements or lack of surveys.
- The schemes have been relaxed to improve access to housing, water, sanitation, electricity, and connectivity.
- Incorporation of their culture and language into the curriculum, providing transportation, and training teachers about PVTG cultural contexts to enhance education accessibility.
- Also, incentives have been there for personnel working in PVTG areas and special educational institutes focused on PVTG to improve opportunities for these communities.
Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)
- These are a more vulnerable group among tribal groups in India. These groups have primitive traits, geographical isolation, low literacy, zero to negative population growth rate and backwardness.
- There are 75 PVTGs in India, spread over 18 States and the Union Territory of Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
- Odisha has the largest population of PVTGs followed by Madhya Pradesh.
- Examples: Great Andamanese (Andaman and Nicobar Islands), Bondo Poraja (Odisha), Paniyas (Kerala), Kattunayakan (Tamil Nadu and Kerala), Bonda (Odisha).
Recognition to PVTGs
- In 1973, the Dhebar Commission created Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) as a separate category.
- In 1975, the Indian government initiated the identification of the most vulnerable tribal groups, designating them as PVTGs, with an initial declaration of 52 such groups.
- An additional 23 groups were included in this category in 1993.
- In 2006, this category was renamed Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
Challenges in the development of PVTGs
- Social Challenges: PVTGs are severely marginalized due to their isolation, low population, limited access to basic services, social discrimination, and distinct socio-economic and cultural traits.
- Displacement: They struggle with vulnerability to displacement from development and natural disasters.
- Political Participation: They have little political representation, hindering their participation in decision-making.
- Economic issues: They are also battling loss of traditional livelihoods and resource rights, lack of market knowledge for Non-Timber Forest Produce, and exploitation by middlemen, threatening their traditional occupations.
- Identification challenges: The criteria for identifying PVTGs have been criticized for being outdated.
- The 2015 report by Virginius Xaxa highlighted that Some PVTGs are not recognised as Scheduled Tribes in certain states, and the list containing repetitive names has led to confusion and exclusion.
Other Schemes for PVTGs
- The PVTG Development Mission: It provides education, healthcare, and livelihood opportunities while preserving traditional knowledge.
- The Pradhan Mantri Janjatiya Vikas Mission (PMJVM): It focuses on market linkages and Minor Forest Produce (MFP) procurement at Minimum Support Prices.
- Pradhan Mantri Adi Adarsh Gram Yojna: It aims at transforming villages with significant tribal population into model villages.
- Eklavya Model Residential Schools: To provide quality education to tribal students with residential facilities in remote corners.
- Laws such as land titles under the Forest Rights Act 2006, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989, The Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act 1996 etc have been implemented for socio-economic development.
Hike in MSP of Copra
Syllabus: GS3/Agriculture and Economy
- The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved a hike in minimum support prices (MSPs) for copra for 2024 season.
- The MSP for 2024 season is an increase of Rs.300/- per quintal for milling copra and Rs.250/- per quintal for ball copra over the previous season.
- Producer: The major producers of milling copra are Kerala and Tamil Nadu, whereas ball copra is produced predominantly in Karnataka.
- Use: Milling copra is used to extract oil, while ball/edible copra is consumed as a dry fruit and used for religious purposes.
- National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd. (NAFED) and National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation (NCCF) will continue to act as Central Nodal Agencies (CNAs) for procurement of copra and de-husked coconut under Price Support Scheme (PSS).
What is MSP?
- Minimum Support Price (MSP) is a form of market intervention by the Government of India to insure agricultural producers against any sharp fall in farm prices.MSP protects the producer- farmers against distress sale during bumper production years.
- MSPs have no statutory backing — a farmer cannot demand MSP as a matter of right.
- The Centre announces the MSP for 22 mandated crops.These include:
- 14 kharif crops (paddy, jowar, bajra, maize, ragi, tur/arhar, moong, urad, groundnut, soyabean, sunflower, sesamum, niger seed, cotton),
- 6 rabi crops (wheat, barley, gram, masur/lentil, rapeseed and mustard,and safflower) and
- 2 commercial crops (jute and copra).
- In addition, MSP for Toria and de-husked coconut is also fixed on the basis of MSPs of rapeseed & mustard and copra respectively.
|Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP)
– FRP is the minimum price at which the sugar mills purchase sugarcane from farmers.
– The Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs announces the FRP on the recommendations of CACP.
Who decides what the MSP would be and how?
- The Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs announces the MSP at the start of each sowing season, taking into account the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).
- While recommending MSPs, the CACP looks at following factors:
- the demand and supply of a commodity;
- its cost of production;
- the market price trends (both domestic and international);
- inter-crop price parity;
- the terms of trade between agriculture and non-agriculture (that is, the ratio of prices of farm inputs and farm outputs);
- a minimum of 50 per cent as the margin over the cost of production; and
- the likely implications of an MSP on consumers of that product.
- The CACP makes projections using state-wise, crop-specific production cost estimates provided by the Directorate of Economics & Statistics in the Agriculture Ministry.
- The CACP does not do any field-based cost estimates itself.
- The CACP calculates three types of costs — A2, A2+FL and C2 — for each mandated crop for different states.
- A2 cost: It is the lowest and covers all paid-out costs directly incurred by the farmer — in cash and kind — on seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, hired labor, leased-in land,fuel, irrigation, etc.
- A2+FL cost: It includes A2 plus an imputed value of unpaid family labor.
- C2 cost: It is the highest of the three costs and defined as a more comprehensive cost that factors in rentals and interest for owned land and fixed capital assets, on top of A2+FL.
- The National Commission for Farmers, chaired by MS Swaminathan, had recommended MSP under the C2+50 percent formula. That is, the total cost of the crop (C2) and the profit thereon is 50 percent.
- However, the government announces MSP on the basis of A2+FL.
Benefits of Minimum Support Price (MSP)
- Income Security: MSP guarantees farmers a minimum price for their crops, ensuring a stable income and protecting them from market price fluctuations.
- Price Stability: MSP helps stabilize the prices of agricultural products, preventing extreme fluctuations and ensuring affordable prices for consumers.
- Encourages Production: Minimum Support Price motivates farmers to increase their agricultural production by providing them with a fair price for their produce.
- Food Security: MSP promotes a steady food supply by encouraging farmers to produce staple crops, reducing dependence on imports, and enhancing domestic food security.
Issues associated with the MSP system
- Distorted Crop Selection: The MSP regime often focuses on a few crops, such as rice and wheat, leading to imbalanced crop selection. This can result in overproduction of certain crops and neglect of others, affecting the overall diversity and sustainability of agriculture.
- Market Distortions: MSPs can create market distortions by influencing the cropping pattern and leading to surplus production of certain crops. This surplus can lead to storage challenges, market inefficiencies, and distortions in price signals.
- Limited Coverage: The MSP system primarily covers a few crops and not all agricultural produce. This leaves farmers growing crops outside the MSP framework vulnerable to market fluctuations and price uncertainties.
- Storage and Logistics Challenges: MSP operations require effective storage and logistics infrastructure to handle the procurement of large quantities of crops. Inadequate facilities can lead to wastage and storage-related losses.
- Fiscal Burden: Implementing MSPs can impose a significant fiscal burden on the government. Procuring crops at guaranteed prices and managing surplus stocks require substantial financial resources, impacting the government’s budget and fiscal health.
- Diversify Agriculture: Emphasize investments in animal husbandry, including fisheries, and fruits and vegetables, which are more nutritious and have the potential for higher income generation.
- Encourage Private Sector Involvement: The government should incentivize the private sector to develop efficient value chains for agriculture, following a cluster approach.
- True MSP Intervention: A genuine MSP should involve government intervention when market prices fall below a predefined level, especially in cases of excess production, oversupply, or price collapse due to international factors.
Syllabus: GS3/Science and Technology
- A newly developed eSoil that stimulated root systems helped barley seedlings grow an average of 50 percent more in a new study.
- eSoil is a low-power bioelectronic growth substrate that can electrically stimulate the root system and growth environment of plants.
- This novel substrate is not only environmentally friendly, being derived from cellulose and a conductive polymer called PEDOT, but also offers a low energy, safe alternative to previous methods that required high voltage and non-biodegradable materials.
- Significance: This research promotes more effective and sustainable development while increasing the variety of crops that can be grown hydroponically.
- In hydroponics, plants are grown without soil, requiring only water, nutrients and a substrate – something for their roots to attach to.
- This closed system allows water to be recirculated, ensuring that each seedling receives exactly the nutrients it needs.
- As a result, very little water is used and all the nutrients remain in the system.
- To maximise the use of space, hydroponics also allows vertical production in huge towers.
- Crops currently grown in this way include lettuce, herbs and some vegetables.
- Hydroponics is not usually used to grow grains other than animal feed.
- In this paper, the scientists show that barley seedlings can be grown hydroponically and that electrical stimulation improves the plants’ growth rate.
Facts In News
Pandit Motiram Pandit Maniram Sangeet Samaroha
Syllabus: GS1/ Art and Culture
- The Union Home Minister recently released a commemorative Postal Stamp, to mark 50 years of Pandit Jasraj’s music festival – ‘Pandit Motiram Pandit Maniram Sangeet Samaroha’.
- Pandit Jasraj was of the greatest all time Indian classical vocalist, belonging to the Mewati gharana, a school of thought in Hindustani classical music.
- His legacy includes memorable performances of classical and semi-classical vocal music, devotional music, albums and film soundtracks, innovations in various genres including Haveli Sangeeth and popularizing the Mewati Gharana.
- He took Indian classical music, Pushtimargiya music and Bhakti Pad of Vaishnav tradition to greater heights and contributed to the strengthening of Indian Classical and Bhakti music.
Pandit Motiram Pandit Maniram Sangeet Samaroha
- This music festival was started by Pandit Jasraj in 1972 to musically express love to his Father, Sangeet Ratna Pandit Motiram ji and his elder brother and later his Guru, Sangeet Mahamahopadhyaya Pandit Maniram ji.
- During his lifetime, for 47 years, without a single break, Pandit Jasraj ji hosted this annual Sangeet Samaroh himself.
- It is the oldest festival of Hyderabad, and this legacy is carried forward by Pandit Jasraj Cultural Foundation. For this unique contribution he was called “Son of Hyderabad”.
- Scientists genetically engineered fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) to understand Huntington’s disease progress at the molecular level.
- Huntington’s disease (HD) is a genetic disorder that affects the brain, leading to progressive motor dysfunction, cognitive decline, and psychiatric symptoms.
- It is an autosomal dominant disorder, meaning that if a person inherits the mutated gene from one parent, they will develop the disease, usually in mid-adulthood.
- The mutation responsible for Huntington’s disease occurs in the huntingtin (HTT) gene, leading to the production of a faulty form of the huntingtin protein.
- Symptoms: Motor Symptoms: Involuntary movements (chorea), such as jerking or writhing motions.
- Difficulty with coordination and balance.
- Progressive motor dysfunction, including difficulties with speech and swallowing.
- Cognitive Decline: Changes in thinking and reasoning abilities.
- Memory impairment.
- Difficulty concentrating and making decisions.
- There is currently no cure for HD, but there are treatments available to manage symptoms and improve the quality of life for individuals with the disease.
The Huntingtin Gene & Protein
- The DNA error that causes HD is found in a gene called huntingtin (HTT. This gene was discovered in 1993.
- Everyone has the huntingtin gene, but only those that inherit the mistake, known as the HD mutation, will develop HD and risk passing it on to their children.