Opinion » Lead

Updated: March 14, 2013 02:16 IST

The long and short of open defecation

Dean Spears
Comment (39)   ·   print   ·   T  T  

There is statistical data to show that the height of Indian children is correlated to their and their neighbourhood’s access to toilets

You can learn a lot from measuring children’s height. How tall a child has grown by the time she is a few years old is one of the most important indicators of her well-being. This is not because height is important in itself, but because height reflects a child’s early-life health, absorbed nutrition and experience of disease.

Because health problems that prevent children from growing tall also prevent them from growing into healthy, productive, smart adults, height predicts adult mortality, economic outcomes and cognitive achievement. The first few years of life have critical life-long consequences. Physical or cognitive development that does not happen in these first years is unlikely to be made up later.

So it is entirely appropriate that news reports in India frequently mention child stunting or malnutrition. Indian children are among the shortest in the world. Such widespread stunting is both an emergency for human welfare and a puzzle.

Why are Indian children so short? Stunting is often considered an indicator of “malnutrition,” which sometimes suggests that the problem is that children don’t have enough food. Although it is surely a tragedy that so many people in India are hungry, and it is certainly the case that many families follow poor infant feeding practices, food appears to be unable to explain away the puzzle of Indian stunting.

‘Asian enigma’

One difficult fact to explain is that children in India are shorter, on average, than children in Africa, even though people are poorer, on average, in Africa. This surprising fact has been called the “Asian enigma.” The enigma is not resolved by genetic differences between the Indian population and others. Babies adopted very early in life from India into developing countries grow much taller. Indeed, history is full of examples of populations that were deemed genetically short but eventually grew as tall as any other when the environment improved.

So, what input into child health and growth is especially poor in India? One answer that I explore in a recent research paper is widespread open defecation, without using a toilet or latrine. Faeces contain germs that, when released into the environment, make their way onto children’s fingers and feet, into their food and water, and wherever flies take them. Exposure to these germs not only gives children diarrhoea, but over the long term, also can cause changes in the tissues of their intestines that prevent the absorption and use of nutrients in food, even when the child does not seem sick.

More than half of all people in the world who defecate in the open live in India. According to the 2011 Indian census, 53 per cent of households do not use any kind of toilet or latrine. This essentially matches the 55 per cent found by the National Family Health Survey in 2005.

Open defecation is not so common elsewhere. The list of African countries with lower percentage rates of open defecation than India includes Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and more. In 2008, only 32 per cent of Nigerians defecated in the open; in 2005, only 30 per cent of people in Zimbabwe did. No country measured in the last 10 years has a higher rate of open defecation than Bihar. Twelve per cent of all people worldwide who openly defecate live in Uttar Pradesh.

So, can high rates of open defecation in India statistically account for high rates of stunting? Yes, according to data from the highly-regarded Demographic and Health Surveys, an international effort to collect comparable health data in poor and middle-income countries.

International differences in open defecation can statistically account for over half of the variation across countries in child height. Indeed, once open defecation is taken into consideration, Indian stunting is not exceptional at all: Indian children are just about exactly as short as would be expected given sanitation here and the international trend. In contrast, although it is only one example, open defecation is much less common in China, where children are much taller than in India.

Further analysis in the paper suggests that the association between child height and open defecation is not merely due to some other coincidental factor. It is not accounted for by GDP or differences in food availability, governance, female literacy, breastfeeding, immunisation, or other forms of infrastructure such as availability of water or electrification. Because changes over time within countries have an effect on height similar to the effect of differences across countries, it is safe to conclude that the effect is not a coincidental reflection of fixed genetic or cultural differences. I do not have space here to report all of the details of the study, nor to properly acknowledge the many other scholars whose work I draw upon; I hope interested readers will download the full paper at

Double threat

Of course, poor sanitation is not the only threat to Indian children’s health, nor the only cause of stunting. Sadly, height reflects many dimensions of inequality within India: caste, birth order, women’s status. But evidence suggests that socially privileged and disadvantaged children alike are shorter than they would be in the absence of open defecation.

Indeed, the situation is even worse for Indian children than the simple percentage rate of open defecation suggests. Living near neighbours who defecate outside is more threatening than living in the same country as people who openly defecate but live far away. This means that height is even more strongly associated with the density of open defecation: the average number of people per square kilometre who do not use latrines. Thus, stunting among Indian children is no surprise: they face a double threat of widespread open defecation and high population density.

The importance of population density demonstrates a simple fact: Open defecation is everybody’s problem. It is the quintessential “public bad” with negative spillover effects even on households that do not practise it. Even the richest 2.5 per cent of children — all in urban households with educated mothers and indoor toilets — are shorter, on average, than healthy norms recommend. They do not openly defecate, but some of their neighbours do. These privileged children are almost exactly as short as children in other countries who are exposed to a similar amount of nearby open defecation.

If open defecation indeed causes stunting in India, then sanitation reflects an emergency not only for health, but also for the economy. After all, stunted children grow into less productive adults.

It is time for communities, leaders, and organisations throughout India to make eliminating open defecation a top priority. This means much more than merely building latrines; it means achieving widespread latrine use. Latrines only make people healthier if they are used for defecation. They do not if they are used to store tools or grain, or provide homes for the family goats, or are taken apart for their building materials. Any response to open defecation must take seriously the thousands of publicly funded latrines that sit unused (at least as toilets) in rural India. Perhaps surprisingly, giving people latrines is not enough.

Ending a behaviour as widespread as open defecation is an immense task. To its considerable credit, the Indian government has committed itself to the work, and has been increasing funding for sanitation. Such a big job will depend on the collaboration of many people, and the solutions that work in different places may prove complex. The assistant responsible for rural sanitation at your local Block Development Office may well have one of the most important jobs in India. Any progress he makes could be a step towards taller children — who become healthier adults and a more productive workforce.

(Dean Spears is an economics PhD candidate at Princeton University and visiting researcher at the Delhi School of Economics.)

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I see Dean Spears article with all alien facts of comparing height of Indian children by just considering ‘malnutrition’ and ‘sanitation’ (toilet) as major reasons. In general there are certain scientific facts about the level of malnutrition among children in India, and therefore the results about overall growth pattern and the correlation . However, in my view knowing about a child by just measuring the height certainly seems a poorly researched correlation and scientific argument. From this article it appears that because children in developed world take enough food, follow good infant feeding practices and have a toilet, so they are good in height and never face stunting problems. So, with this logic they fair in height with children of majority of African countries and may be Pathan and Gujjar children’s in India. With same logic what about the children in China, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Bhutan, Nepal and NE part of India, and for that matter in developed South Asian countries..

from:  K N Vajpai
Posted on: Mar 15, 2013 at 16:58 IST

I am finding it really difficult to buy this argument. Traditionally,
Japanese people have been considered to be short, does that mean they
defecate in public more than Indians? Open defecation is a problem and
needs to be solved appropriately, but to correlate it to stunted growth
seems far fetched.

from:  Jon Sampath
Posted on: Mar 15, 2013 at 14:15 IST

I am ashamed how hypocritical my fellow countrymen have become. When somebody points out something that we need to be absolutely ashamed of, some of my countrymen are trying to flaunt it as a "good thing" and an "advantage" !
Let me ask them, how many of them use open space for defecation? How many of them will be willing to do so ?
This is an example of how liberalization has corrupted our psyche. Earlier, we use to empathize with our fellow countrymen who undergo from deprivation and sufferings. Liberalization has "emboldened" us to ignore the vast majority of Indians and celebrate our own spoils. I can only warn that it is for our own peril that we ignore the 90% suffering people of India.

from:  Janarddan
Posted on: Mar 15, 2013 at 11:51 IST

Someone commented that sanitation is a factor of water (un)availability! It isn't, most of the times.
I have first-hand experience of knowing people, who were high school-educated, from the middle-class, who paid scant regard to building a toilet in their house in a semi-urban area of South India, where water was NOT a scarcity. They would rather invest that amount in building an additional living room in their house; Their contention was there was a lot of open area in the adjoining area to answer the
calls of nature.
Apparently, School education and economic status still has not had the kind of salutary effect on regressive Socio-cultural norms. It calls for a sustained campaign to sell the point that the author has been trying to make, but sadly, the powers that be have got their priorities focused elsewhere. Sanitation is after all not a topic
that fetches votes.

from:  Murali V
Posted on: Mar 15, 2013 at 11:02 IST

The author has not taken into account the wide variations within
India. For example Kerala has less than 6% (census 2011) of
households without toilets, but the population is not noticeably
taller than the rest of India. Moreover, the population is highly
educated and most of the health related statistics of that state
are exemplary. It is mentioned that genetic differences do not
account for the differences, but no data has been provided to
explain this claim. It would be informative to compare India
against its neighboring countries to validate this claim.

from:  Manu Nandan
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 21:13 IST

The alleviation of the grim problem of open defecation is for sure a
daunting task in the areas which are not yet availing the uses of
latrines. The problem is that just providing the infrastructure is not
the solution, it is just the beginning .The rural community mostly is
unaware of the significance of sanitation and adverse effects of the
open defecation. That’s why they have been found to use the latrines
as a storage for grains or keeping their cattle. This is simply the
wastage of resources .On one hand the government starts to celebrate
their success without handling the ramifications of this complex
The government must utilize this opportunity to make the people aware
of the benefits of using toilets and relate too them the benefits in
the long and short term also relating the monetary benefits which will
surely have an positive impact on their mindset.

from:  mohit kumar
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 19:59 IST

An equally important question to ask is why Indians defecate in the
open in such large numbers when compared to people in 'poorer'
countries in Africa, Asia or anywhere else. Elementary introspection
will reveal that it is because of the curious notions of purity and
pollution that Hindus have: an 'untouchable' person's shadow pollutes,
but a dip in a filthy river purifies! This is the same set of beliefs
that is responsible for the "unparalleled social abuse of
untouchability" (A.J.Toynbee).

from:  Shiva Shankar
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 17:42 IST

This is a very interesting but an article based on weak
evidence. Second stunting is "one" measure of malnutrition but there are others such as
wasting. Author is silent about what he finds about other measures of
malnutrition but does not hesitate to link stunting with open
defecation without hesitation. Third, the author is silent about
other work that shows no health impact of sanitation and fails to
explain the causal chain. Finally it is illogical to conceive that
sanitation can resolve the malnutrition problem to a great extent even
without improvements in food and nutrition and water supply. And if
the idea is that sanitation is effective if adequate food and water
supply (quantity and quality both) are available, then this becomes a
"composite good" - Not sanitation alone!

from:  Sumeet Patil
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 16:01 IST

What about Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese, Combodians etc...They
are shorter than Indians. Open defecation is certainly not there in
China and Japan. Then what's the reason behind them being shorter?

from:  Pinaki
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 15:58 IST

It's about time that the central government invested heavily in Infrastructure projects for better sanitaion and clean water supplies. The building of latrines and toilet facilities wherever there is human habitaion. If India can contribute over $1 billion for Afghan development, then why not spend on your own population? Or does the central govt not care about Indian people?

from:  Vipul
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 15:51 IST

Author has rightly pointed out in this article on the issue of
Malnutrition, the issue of Open Defecation has so far remained a grossly
neglected issue by our successive government.

from:  Manavpreet Singh
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 15:26 IST

What about the Japanese..They have revolutionized latrine than any other
country has done....they are considered short people..any explanations?

from:  Dilip
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 15:03 IST

It's true that westerners mock at 'Desi' for eating in privacy and squatting in public. It's true that half of the world's population who defecate in open live in India; it is deplorable. As minister Ramesh proclaimed we need a 'toilet revolution' but the correlation between this widespread practice and height of children or stunting is hard to digest despite some data presented in this study.He has made comparison between India and African nations to reinforce his argument but what about other Asian countries, especially Japan, Thailand etc. Why are they short? Doesn't it suggest that it has something to do with race and beyond this social factor.

from:  Dr.Swami D Francis
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 13:27 IST

The jump from demonstrating correlation to causality is not convincing. Surely!
poor sanitation causes diseases which have a long-term impact on health. Worm
infestation also causes chronic malnutrition, but the whole thing is much more

For starters, I am not sure if the poor in India are better off than those in Africa.
Africa may be poorer on average and much more strife-torn but when it comes to
chronic malnutrition, then I fear that the poor in India are much worse off.

Secondly, South Asians are genetically predisposed to be shorter. Look at young
Gujaratis living in the US whose parents migrated there from East Africa. They are
as short as the rest.

Malnutrition among women in general and during pregnancy and gestation, the
poor nutrient value of a vegetarian diet compared to red meat, all these stack up
to cause our famously shorter stature.

The poor in India however cannot hope for even two meals a day, let alone a
nutrient-rich one.

from:  Vivek
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 13:23 IST

The intentions of the study are well and good, but the researcher
should make sure that the data shows a correlation that is stronger
than the correlation with the genetic distribution of heights. This
is easier said than done in a genetically diverse population such as
in India...taller Indian origin kids in adopted western countries
could just be weather and diet related, and may have nothing to do
with defecation. Such univariate conclusions based on multivariate
data in 'soft' sciences can be misleading many times...

from:  venkat
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 13:10 IST

To this evidence is open are of before out apartment in Bangalore. Huge layout existing before our apartment and there is no much construction has been taken place and shrubd and small trees grown. At one corner of that some apartment construction activities going on and next to that many labours living with temporary huts. Every morning we can see people using open filed for their defecation. Our politicians not leaving lakes and encroaching and constructing apartments and creates fake documents for government lands dedicated for livestock feed. But failed to think that constructing toilets in where EWS people residing more and near by slums in order to respect their privacy. In Bangalore city it happens open defecation it bad discuss other party of the country.

Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 12:33 IST

Although the central argument of this piece of article is ridiculous, yet the problem of open defection is definitely a serious issue requiring attention.It is in this context that I recollect an incidence from childhood. A visitor to our house insisted that we should use the open fields rather than the latrine at home for early morning defecation. According to him, it was a healthy habit as it makes one feel fresher and the feces would eventually turn into fertile manure.
These were the words of an educated adult. In India, especially, rural India, open defection is culturally entrenched as a matter of habit.It is necessary that the center and state governments with the help of NGOs undertake proactive educative measures to disseminate the ill effects of such a practice . Mere opening of public toilets would not solve the problem.

from:  Ananya Das
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 12:26 IST

Congratulations for publishing this excellent article.

‘The Hindu’ has been consistent in publishing articles on the
supposedly enormous problem of open defecation. A year ago, another
article ‘India is drowning in its own excreta was published in your
columns. Recently, the Parliamentary Standing committee on social
Justice and Empowerment, studying the Prohibition of Manual Scavengers
& their Rehabilitation Bill,2012 met with Social Activists and NGOs at
Chennai. A memorandum was submitted urging the Standing Committee to
consider introducing a separate chapter in the draft bill for
establishing a ‘National Research Institute in Sustainable Sanitation
Science and Technology’ and also Regional Institutes in all the
states exclusively to deal with sustainable, eco-friendly sanitation
models and to act as a nodal agencies. Such a bill will bring in the
necessary resources and serious scientific and sociological research
and appropriate technology. Without eliminating open defecation and
insanitary ‘sanitary latrines’ in a water starved India, we cannot
eliminate the dark blot of manual scavenging. So, we made a strong
pitch that manual scavenging and open defecation and insanitary
latrines are interrelated and for the need to squarely deal with the
crisis through powerful legislation and to invest adequately in human,
scientific and financial resource on the issue of sanitation.

When we are investing on moon and mars missions and botched up Nirbhay
missiles, why are we refusing to invest in Science and Technology for
sanitation which is much more of an emergency?

A.Narayanan, Editor, paadam magazine.

from:  A.Narayanan
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 11:46 IST

This looks like an attempt by a PhD candidate to gain recognition by drawing some unique inference from a given data.
India needs to get rid of practice of open defecation, but one should not give reasons bordering on ridiculous. In India, there is greater genetic variation than any other country. Within a given set of population, say a village, where everyone practices open defecation and most of the villagers belong to the same tribe/community, i.e. have similar genetic make up there is always a variation in height.
Take for example, nomads from Rajasthan, over many generations, their height is unaffected by open defecation.
Sanitation is factory of not just culture but also technical feasibility of providing running water to people.

from:  Abhinav
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 11:29 IST

Open defecation is closely coupled with the social stigma that surrounds sanitation
workers (who are predominantly recruited from scheduled castes). The Indian
mentality is all about keeping the house clean and dumping the trash outside in the public. Picking up public trash is considered a task fit only for the socially backward castes. No wonder that all the public trash and defecation ends up in the food, and stunts the growth of even the socially mobile and forward castes.

from:  Kiran
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 11:06 IST

As author points out,there might be a correlation between height and
practices of open defecation,the most worrying factor for stunting in
children is still the negligence of care of women during
prenatal,natal and general days.There is a trend in Indian culture by
women to take food when everyone took their food .This, most of the
time leaves them with less quantity of food.During prenatal and natal
time, they don't get proper nutrition .This happens mostly due to
negligence of husbands and family persons.Poverty is also one of the
reason,but even in well to do family women don't get proper
nutrition.The all programs relating to stunting of children would be
beneficial only when we understand the importance of women.Otherwise
it would only be a chimera for our policy-makers.

from:  Safiullah Ansari
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 10:56 IST

Ah, to think than ape!

Why is open defecation so bad for society? It is because the 'Western' experts and their Eastern mimes say so? What about the benefits of open defecation? What about its cultural significance? What about people's preferences? What about the disadvantages of concrete box latrines, open/unmaintained/overflowing sewers/drains that only aggravate feco-oral disease transmission and pollute rivers?

Open defecation is the cheapest and most effective means of enriching the soil. It doesraise the risk of feco-oral transmission of diseases, but concrete latrines are not the best solution in this context. The ideal alternatives to open defecation in the Indian context are ventilated slit/trench or dry composting latrines. These are not only dirt cheap to install, they enrich the local soil and also provide the physical barrier to disrupt feco-oral transmission of diseases. They can be erected anywhere in no time and require little or no water/maintenance.

from:  Dr. J. Ajith
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 10:44 IST

A very realistic, thought-provoking article. I agree from the first word to the last one. Generally the poor , malnourished africans are much taller.

from:  Chaitanya Pandey
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 10:42 IST

I think the article highlights a very important point about changing behaviours. Just providing toilets isn't a solution as the ground reality puts forth. But the more important fact is that people will only accept things if we can convince them, as per their understanding & 'change' will only when they can make sense of it. Clearly, this is a very daunting task.
As far as the solution is concerned, I think issues like this need to addressed at the policy level, not to forget all the subsequent levels.

from:  Mayank Lodha
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 10:26 IST

Very Very Informative.I must say,we as Indian along with our
government must beef up our stand to tackle the so called Asian
Enigma i.e "Open defecation".We must educate very single creature
about the negative impact and its long term effect on our children
and society as well.

from:  Prasannajeet Mohanty
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 10:07 IST

This article is indeed a stunning revelation of the issue of sanitation in India. It was very informative to read this article and know that sanitation majorly affects the height of children.

from:  Nikhil Bhat
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 10:04 IST

My organization has constructed several public toilet complexes in Indian villages in Tamilnadu and I know of others and they all remain unused and neglected. However private toilets used by one family are regularly used and becoming more common and sometimes are a condition of any negotiated marriage arrangement required by the bride's family. The writer seems not to understand why and the answer lies not in economics or hygiene but in the understandings of sociologists and anthropologists who make a study of traditional India social customs. Using a public village toilet means coming into contact with the bodily substance of other unknown persons which is ritually and socially defiling. And person's whose job it is to clean and maintain public toilets find this work very defiling and find that they and their families are avoided and shunned and treated as socially lower. Few persons are willing to undertake this work unless required by traditional social sanctions.

from:  C. John Degler
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 09:52 IST

Cry for India! Thank you Dean Spears for shedding light on what our casual acceptance of
filth and open defecation is doing to our nation.

from:  Hoshiar Singh
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 09:48 IST

An interesting article that leaves me puzzled. How come the average
height in the Uttar Pradesh is greater than the average height in Tamil

from:  Hilary Pais
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 09:45 IST

The 'research' is an affront to all those fighting against malnutrition. Suggesting that open defecation and not malnutrition is cause of stunted growth is beyond malaise. I request the author to withdraw the paper and call upon peer reviewers to do their duty properly. Thank you . I hope the comment is published

from:  Selvarajan
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 09:36 IST

Good Article. Editor rightly pointed out the dire consequences of open
defecation. If we actually wants to grow our first priority should be
to become healthy nation. Because only healthy nation where people are
physically as well as mentally fit can be dream of becoming a
developing nation. 53% of Indians still don't use latrine or toilet
this is whopping figure. If we want to grow we need to reduce this
percentage. The condition rural India is abysmally bad as compared to
Urban India. I am not saying Government is not doing something but yes
implementation rate is very slow. Government should launch awareness
camp and let people know about the consequences of open defecation not
only on their health but on all other people living in that locality
and it will ultimately leads to poor health, slow overall growth of
different parts of body and ultimately affect to our nation growth.

from:  Ankit Singh
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 09:26 IST

Proper sanitation which has a virtuous link with good health,prospering
economy and sustainable development,has been not given the attention it
deserves in Indian policy discourse until recent times.Total sanitation
campaign which was launched in 1999 had limited success due to lack
social awareness which could not awaken the demand from people to have
proper sanitation and its significance in leading a decent
dignified,healthy,fulfilling life.Hence the proposed ‘’Nirmal bharat
abhiyaan”should first focus on raising massive social awareness among
masses with regard to importance of having proper sanitation.There is
also need for having continuous piped water supply in Rural areas for
sustainability of toilets.Besides these a strong political will and
administrative activism are must to make India Nirmal Bharat.

from:  sudhakar naik
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 09:25 IST

The truth is out, but it is even more important to ask is why Indians
defecate in the open in such large numbers when compared to people in
'poorer' countries in Africa, Asia or anywhere else. Elementary
introspection will reveal that it is because of the curious notions of
purity and pollution that Hindus have: an 'untouchable' person's shadow pollutes, but a dip in a filthy river purifies! This is the same set of beliefs that is responsible for the "unparalleled social abuse of untouchability" (A.J.Toynbee).

from:  Shiva Shankar
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 09:21 IST

Dean Spears is to be commended for this article. It shows the depth and the breadth and the
impact of lack of public sanitation in India. Our casual acceptance of filth all around us is
astounding for a nation where some people think that they are ready to join developed
nations. Only by recognizing how far we have been left by the developments in the
countries, we may wake up to our reality. Dean Spears essay is a wake up call to us. He
shows how far public filth can destroy our present and future. We , Indians, must mobilize all
our resources to educate people on the subject and convince them of the need for a
revolution in public sanitation.

from:  Virendra Gupta
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 09:12 IST

The research is a classic researcher mistake of equating correlation, regression with cause and effect. There is no comparison between states in India.The heights between UP and Tamilnadu children will show TN has a lower height than UP whereas open defecation is higher in UP. I do not agree with this article and request a revised peer review.

from:  Selvarajan
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 08:11 IST

Defecation in Open by so many is a curse in India specially near inhabited areas. But people have no choice as Govt. has not developed infrastructure to deal with local sanitation. Western method of flushing and transporting waste via pipes is too water consuming for water starved India. Dry latrines Solutions need to be developed but ensuring waste is covered with earth / sand and do not cause smell or bacteria causing health hazards. Mixed waste is disposed in properly manner to be composted / decayed in far off places and sanitary workers are properly protected and rewarded.

from:  Atma Gandhi
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 07:50 IST

poor growth is due to malnutrition and hunger.

from:  umesh bhagwat
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 07:39 IST

There can be as many theories as there are researchers as to the reasons for malnutrition amongst Indian children. However the historical perspective as well as climatic aspects cannot be wished away. In a country where literacy has spread in recent decades there is also need to emphasise on hygiene and concern for the well being of fellow human beings. It is more apathy for the welfare of fellow citizens which is the root cause for open defecation being practised besides the absence of adequate facilities. We need a moral as well as socio economic revolution to create an atmosphere where we consider our land of birth as our own irrespective of whether we are inside our own habitats or outside. There is also need for a control on migration of population from rural to urban areas in a manner that rural population are able to secure means of livelihood in the place where they live and do need to move out to seek work. Since we are a functioning democracy the change is surely on the cards

from:  R.Vijaykumar
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 06:56 IST

Wonderfully insightful. I hope our policy makers realize the graveness
of this situation and act on it rather than deprive key welfare
measures and fund "pie in the sky" projects.

from:  Siva Digavalli
Posted on: Mar 14, 2013 at 06:33 IST
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