Lifting the Curse: Overcoming Persistent Undernutrition in India

Edited by: Lawrence Haddad and Sushila Zeitlyn

July 2009
Volume 40 Number 4

'Economic powerhouse and nutritional weakling' – how does India move away from this Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde existence? This is the focus of the authors in this IDS Bulletin, nearly all of whom are Indian or India-based. The Bulletin first reviews child nutrition in India: what is going up and what is going down, and for whom and where? As we will see while the direction of change is far from clear, movement is sluggish.

We then ask why economic growth is not doing more to reduce undernutrition. We know that income and nutrition are not always tightly wedded, but are at least related. In India, they seem to be ships passing in the night. Why is this? The articles conclude that it is a rather toxic mix of incentives than prioritise the delivery of social inputs over outputs and practices that exclude large groups of individuals, including women and girls, from access to quality services.