India's Boom Does Little for Malnourished Children

42.5% remain underweight despite efforts to fix crisis
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Mar 13, 2009 10:22 AM CDT
Children of workers sit near a smoldering fire to keep warm at a construction site in Gurgaon, India.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – India’s economy has soared for a decade, but what its prime minister calls its “national shame” remains: malnourished, underdeveloped children, the New York Times reports. While growing China has cut its proportion of underweight children to 7%, India’s stands at 42.5%. Some say the government doesn’t put enough into its efforts to turn things around; others blame a lumbering bureaucracy.

India has the world’s biggest child-feeding program, but analysts say it’s badly designed and ineffective. It doesn’t focus enough on kids under 2 and struggling mothers. Even in New Delhi, with the highest per-capita income in the country, 42.2% of kids are stunted, 26% underweight. “I see a system failing,” said a researcher. “It is doing something, but it is not solving the problem.”