India entered the 21st century with a strong foundation and immense promise. In the last two decades, significant strides have been made. There is much to be extremely proud of in the aspirations and achievements of our citizens from every walk of life. As a people, we are today far more conscious and committed to nation building.
The next decade is going to be decisive to irrevocably rid ourselves of deficiencies. The one critical imbalance to eliminate is that of inequalities of opportunity. Among them, the most corrosive is the wasting of millions of our young children and the inability of large swathes of would-be mothers to give birth to healthy babies—both due to malnutrition. We should also be proud that we have lifted 270 million citizens out of poverty.
During the next decade, the challenges will be the successful implementation of measures to irrevocably reduce the critical imbalance in the inequalities of opportunities.
We need to improve the health of mothers and children in the rural areas by improving nutrition. We need to provide our young population with greater access to good education and, finally, provide them with job opportunities.
Malnutrition is often confused with hunger. Hunger is nature’s way of signalling the lack of nutrition.
The importance of good nutrition goes back to the nutritional health of the mother during pregnancy and critical nutritional inputs to the infant.
The lack of these important proteins and other foundation nutritional inputs have a significant impact on the physical and mental health of the infant, which often carries through the life of the individual. Lack of hygiene and appropriate sanitation can also result in a weak infant who could suffer through life.
As a country, we are now more aware of these needs and the required cohesion. The Union government has adopted time-bound targets.
Through our work with regulators, state administrations, partners and individual professionals, we are witnessing a purposefulness to attain the goal. We have to, because a nutrition-rich India will give all our people the most basic opportunity—the abilities and faculties to do more, to do better.