Nature of Food Problem in India Beforeand After Independence

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A RECENT publication, Food Insecurity Atlas of Urban India, brought out by the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) indicates that more than 38 per cent of children under the age of three in India's cities and towns are underweight and more than 35 per cent of children in urban areas are stunted (shorter than they should be for their age). The report states that the poor in India's burgeoning urban areas do not get the requisite amount of calories or nutrients specified by accepted Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) norms and also suggests that absorption and assimilation of food by the urban poor is further impaired by non-food factors such as inadequate sanitation facilities, insufficient…show more content…
However, such observations are deceptive. For example, even though urban wages and salaries are higher than rural wages and salaries, the urban poor fare poorly in terms of livelihood security. Vulnerable groups in urban areas often depend on casual employment and daily wages. The uncertainty of these avenues of income have a significant effect on the food security of the urban poor.
In 1996, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) defined food security as a situation which "exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life." TheFood Insecurity Atlas of Urban India adopts a broader definition of the concept and views food security from three different angles — 1) the availability of food, which depends on production and distribution; 2) the access to food, which is determined by an individual's purchasing power, andin turnpurchasing power is affected by livelihood access, access to housing, and caste and gender discrimination; and 3) the absorption of food, which is affected by sanitation, clean drinking water and health care. The report identifies 17 key indicators, which fall into six categories (food affordability and availability, livelihood access, access to housing, discrimination in livelihood access, access to sanitation, and health and nutritional outcome)

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