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Every second child in Gujarat under age of five years undernourished

Poster by Amir Rizvi

Poster by Amir Rizvi

UNICEF says Gujarat social indicators not keeping pace with economic development

Says almost every second child in under age of five years undernourished and three out of four are anaemic

BS Reporter  |  Ahmedabad 
Chief minister Narendra Modi who has been projecting Gujarat model of development across the country, the UNICEFhas claimed that social development indicators have not been able to keep pace with economic development in the state with a population of 60 million.
In an introduction of Gujarat on its official website the India has said, “Almost every second child in Gujarat under the age of five years is undernourished and three out of four are anaemic. Infant and maternal mortality rates have reduced very slowly in the last decade. Also, the preliminary results of Census 2011 show that while there has been a slight improvement in the child sex ratio (0-6 years) from 883 in 2001 to 886 today, the overall sex ratio in the state has declined from 920 to 918 (during the same period).”

In critic of Gujarat’s poor social indicator the UN agency further stated, “From an ancient shipping power to modern-day industrial state, Gujarat is known for its vibrant economy. Located on India’s west coast, the state has a bustling economy that offers families a per capita income which is higher than the national average. However, social development indicators have not been able to keep pace with economic development in this state of over 60 million people.”

“Although Gujarat is recognised as one of the most prosperous states in India with very good infrastructure of highways and ports, and strong petrochemical and automobile industries and agro products, a lot needs to be done to improve socio-development indicators,” the UNICEF website further added.

The agency was also critical of the health conditions of women in Gujarat. “Just like the undernourished , one mother in three in Gujarat struggles with acute undernutrition. About half of these women are also anaemic, putting them at risk of problems during pregnancy, childbirth and post natal period. Lack of awareness of proper nutrition is partially responsible for this situation; only about half the mothers currently choose to exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months of their life. This deprives of the chance to acquire natural immunities passed on through breast milk and makes them more susceptible to common childhood diseases. Older babies are also not introduced to comple
mentary feeding at the right age,” it stated describing the challenges before it.

Under the section “Key challenges and opportunities” UNICEF has praised effort of the state government in providing piped water to rural population and said  “Major efforts by the state have provided piped water for about two thirds of the rural population.” However, the agency has raised concern over house hold sanitation terming it as “a major challenge which needs to be addressed” since many households do not have access to toilets, and  risk of faecal contamination of water exists.

Unicef has lauded that efforts of government in field of access to primary education, while raising concerns over quality of education. “Most villages have a primary school nearby. More and more students are being enrolled every year in primary schools and the number of dropouts is declining dramatically. Recent studies, however, show that the quality of education needs to be improved, with less than half the students being able to read, write and understand mathematics at levels appropriate for their age,” the agency website stated.

It further express concern that “girls (in Gujarat) are still less likely to complete their education than boys.” According to Unicef “There is a large urban population with poor social sector systems and poor social indicators exist, particularly in the tribal areas”.

The Unicef works with the government of India to ensure that each child born in the country “gets the best start in life, thrives and develops to his or her full potential”. It uses its knowledge to develop innovative interventions “to ensure that women and children are able to access basic services such as clean water, health visitors and educational facilities, and that these services are of high quality”. Unicef presently  works in 13 states of India.

and three out of four are anaemic

In what could be a setback for chief minister Narendra Modi who has been projecting Gujarat model of development across the country, the UNICEFhas claimed that social development indicators have not been able to keep pace with economic development in the state with a population of 60 million.
In an introduction of Gujarat on its official website the UNICEF India has said, “Almost every second child in Gujarat under the age of five years is undernourished and three out of four are anaemic. Infant and maternal mortality rates have reduced very slowly in the last decade. Also, the preliminary results of Census 2011 show that while there has been a slight improvement in the child sex ratio (0-6 years) from 883 in 2001 to 886 today, the overall sex ratio in the state has declined from 920 to 918 (during the same period).”

In critic of Gujarat’s poor social indicator the UN agency further stated, “From an ancient shipping power to modern-day industrial state, Gujarat is known for its vibrant economy. Located on India’s west coast, the state has a bustling economy that offers families a per capita income which is higher than the national average. However, social development indicators have not been able to keep pace with economic development in this state of over 60 million people.”

“Although Gujarat is recognised as one of the most prosperous states in India with very good infrastructure of highways and ports, and strong petrochemical and automobile industries and agro products, a lot needs to be done to improve socio-development indicators,” the UNICEF website further added.

The agency was also critical of the health conditions of women in Gujarat. “Just like the undernourished children, one mother in three in Gujarat struggles with acute undernutrition. About half of these women are also anaemic, putting them at risk of problems during pregnancy, childbirth and post natal period. Lack of awareness of proper nutrition is partially responsible for this situation; only about half the mothers currently choose to exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months of their life. This deprives children of the chance to acquire natural immunities passed on through breast milk and makes them more susceptible to common childhood diseases. Older babies are also not introduced to comple
mentary feeding at the right age,” it stated describing the challenges before it.

Under the section “Key challenges and opportunities” UNICEF has praised effort of the state government in providing piped water to rural population and said  “Major efforts by the state have provided piped water for about two thirds of the rural population.” However, the agency has raised concern over house hold sanitation terming it as “a major challenge which needs to be addressed” since many households do not have access to toilets, and  risk of faecal contamination of water exists.

Unicef has lauded that efforts of government in field of access to primary education, while raising concerns over quality of education. “Most villages have a primary school nearby. More and more students are being enrolled every year in primary schools and the number of dropouts is declining dramatically. Recent studies, however, show that the quality of education needs to be improved, with less than half the students being able to read, write and understand mathematics at levels appropriate for their age,” the agency website stated.

It further express concern that “girls (in Gujarat) are still less likely to complete their education than boys.” According to Unicef “There is a large urban population with poor social sector systems and poor social indicators exist, particularly in the tribal areas”.

The Unicef works with the government of India to ensure that each child born in the country “gets the best start in life, thrives and develops to his or her full potential”. It uses its knowledge to develop innovative interventions “to ensure that women and children are able to access basic services such as clean water, health visitors and educational facilities, and that these services are of high quality”. Unicef presently  works in 13 states of India.

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