Government think-tank Niti Aayog on Tuesday came out with the National Nutrition Strategy, seeking to put nutrition at the forefront of the narrative of the National Development Agenda.
One of the architects of Green Revolution M S Swaminathan and Padma Shri H Sudarshan today launched the blueprint, along with Niti Aayog Vice-Chairman Dr Rajiv Kumar and Member Vinod Paul, a NITI Aayog statement said.
The Aayog made the pitch, citing the benefit to cost ratio of 16:1 for 40 low- and middle-income countries, adding that there is a well-recognised rationale globally for investing in nutrition.
The recently-published results of NFHS-4 (national family and health survey) reflect some progress, with a decline in overall levels of under-nutrition in both women and children.
However, it said the pace of decline is far below what numerous countries with similar growth trajectories to India have achieved. Moreover, India pays an income penalty of 9-10 per cent due to a workforce stunted during childhood.
"To address this and bring nutrition to the centre- stage of the National Development Agenda, the Niti Aayog has drafted the National Nutrition Strategy. Formulated through an extensive consultative process, the strategy lays down a road map for effective action, among both implementers and practitioners, in achieving our nutrition objectives," it added.
The nutrition strategy envisages a framework under which the four proximate determinants of nutrition -- uptake of health services, food, drinking water and sanitation and income and livelihoods -- work together to accelerate decline of under-nutrition in India.
Currently, it noted, there is lack of real-time measurement of these determinants, which "reduces our capacity for targeted action" among the most vulnerable mothers and children.
It pointed to supply side challenges often overshadowing the need to address behavioural change efforts to generate demand for nutrition services.
This strategy, the premium body said, gives prominence to demand and community mobilisation as a key determinant to address India's nutritional needs.
The Nutrition Strategy framework envisages a Kuposhan Mukt Bharat -- linked to Swachh Bharat and Swasth Bharat. The aim is to ensure states create customised State and District Action Plans to address local needs and challenges.
This is especially relevant in view of enhanced resources available with states to prioritise focused interventions with a greater role for panchayats and urban local bodies, it added.
The strategy enables states to make strategic choices, through decentralised planning and local innovation, with accountability for nutrition outcomes.