The issue of malnutrition knows no division between urban and rural areas of India, said Sangeet Singla, Director at the Department of Food and Public Distribution, the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution at the Elets Food Safety & Quality Summit 2021 held with a theme ‘Food Industry 4.0: Stepping to Sustainable & Safe Future’. Acknowledging that food safety and quality acquires greater importance amid the Covid-19 pandemic, he added that the government is leaving no stone unturned to feed the country’s vast population during unprecedented times.
“Women and children mostly suffer from malnutrition or undernutrition, but we are committed to food security and we are committed to the young population of the country. We will make our best efforts to ensure food security is provided and nutrition reaches the lowest strata of society. Nutrition is not only about food but is about nutrition; it is about a balanced diet and not over or under diet. In our country, 25% of our population is below 14 years of age. It is a challenge to ensure nutrition to these people spread across the country. The Government of India develops policies and states have to implement them. The challenge lies in coordination, not in funding,” added Singla.
Busting a myth about prevailing of malnutrition only amongst rural people, he said that “nutrition issue exists only among rural population is a myth. It exists among the urban population as well. Addressing malnutrition in urban areas is also important as one-third of our population lives in towns and cities. People living in urban areas have to face another challenge of hygiene as they have to live in clusters in densely populated areas.”
He added that India can expect to gain from demographic dividend only when the children below 14 years of age get sufficient nutrition. “If children do not get sufficient nutrition, they will be a liability on us after 15 years.” He also remarked that it is crucial for the youth of the country to be able to gain food security for ensuring that the country has the young population to defend India, drive innovations, works for the corporate, and join political leadership. “PM Narendra Modi and the Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Piyush Goyal are driving day in and day out to address this problem, and all of us have been directed to find innovative address the problem.”