The Planning Commission has cast doubt on the number of malnutritioned children in India, questioning the data generated by the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD).
The figures range from 45.5 per cent to 55 per cent, with the National Family Health survey-III putting the figure around 45 per cent, whereas United Nation agencies range the number close to 55 per cent. Some states like Bihar have slipped on child nutrition since 1998.
Sayeeda Hamid, a member of the commission, points at flaws in the data collection in the anganwadi centres run by the WCD ministry. “There is no compilation of figures and registers at the anganwadi centres are not maintained properly. In that case, the data generated may not be authentic,” she told the Hindustan Times. However, she refused to comment on what, according to her, is the correct figure of India’s malnourishment rate.
After her visit to aganwadi centres in different parts of the country, Hamid has told the WCD ministry to improve its data collection methodology so that the exact count of malnourished children in the country can be ascertained.
The anganwadi centres, the base for providing nourishment to children aged up to three years, were found to be in shambles in many states. Anganwadis in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh were found to be in a very bad state. The only exception was Nagaland, where community participation was higher, she said.