14 October 2009

A Ghost at the Party

Yet more on Indian Malnutrition. A good article in the New York Times Sunday Magazine (if you can get beyond Jamie Oliver on the cover) on malnutrition--the ghost at the Indian economic party, which features the recent IDS Bulletin on Malnutrition in India.

Here is an excerpt "When Lloyd Blankfein, chairman of Goldman Sachs, declares that the 21st century will be India’s and that of the other so-called BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia and China), he has sound reasons for saying so. The self-confidence of the Indian corporate elite is even more arresting. Mukesh Ambani, head of one of the country’s principal conglomerates, expressed a common view when he insisted that the 21st century “belongs” to India — though he largely attributes this to demography, contrasting India’s young population with the aging populations of the United States, Western Europe, Japan and China. But there is a ghost at the party, and its name is malnutrition."

The article juxtaposes the optimism that many feel about India's demographic dividend (the bulge of young population about to enter the labor market) and the dawning grim realisation that the potential of up to half of these young citizens has been damaged by impairments in their first 3 years of life.

Last night I went to a reception at Buckingham Palace held in Honour of an upcoming visit of the President of India, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil. In effect, it was a case of another ghost at the party. Her website says she is committed to the cause of education. How I would like to have 10 minutes of her time to talk about how nutrition is vital to that cause.

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