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India 2 Essay, Research Paper


India, officially republic of India is a country in Southern Asia, which consists entirely of the Indian Peninsula and parts of the Asian mainland. On the north, one can find Afghanistan, China, Nepal, and Bhutan; on the east, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and the Bay of Bengal; on the south, by Palk Strait, and the Gulf of Manhar, and the Indian ocean; and on the west, by the Arabian Sea and Pakistan (1). India has an area of 3,165,596 sq. km. The capital of India is New Delhi, and the countries largest city is Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay). It is the second most populated country in the world after China with a population of 984,003,683. Currently the growth rate for India is at 1.71 percent. India is known around the world as one of the worst poverty stricken and malnourished countries ever (2).

India’s economy includes traditional village farming, modern agriculture, handicrafts, a wide variety of modern industries, and numerous support services. Nearly 400 million, which is 67 percent of India’s labor force, works in agriculture, which supplies 30 percent of the country’s GDP. Production, trade, and investment reforms since 1991 have given new opportunities for Indian business persons and an average of 300 million middle class consumers. Many of the country’s fundamentals which includes saving rates (26 percent of GDP) and reserves (now about $24 billion) are healthy. Inflation eased to 7 percent in 1997, and interest rates dropped to between 10 percent and 13 percent. However, the Indian government still needs to restore the early momentum of reform, especially in continuing to reduce the remaining government regulations. Furthermore economic policy changes have not yet significantly increased jobs or reduced the risk that international finance strains redevelop within the next few years. Nearly 40 percent of the Indian population remains too poor to afford an adequate diet. India’s exports, currency, and foreign institutional investment were affected by the East Asia crisis in late 1997 and early 1998. Export growth has been decreasing in 1996-97, averaging only about 4 percent to 5 percent, which is a large crop from 20 percent increases it was having over the prior three years- mostly because of the fall in Asian currencies relative to the rupee. Energy, telecommunications, transportation shortages, and the estate of inefficient factories compel industrial growth which expanded only 6.7 percent. In 1997- down from more than 11 percent in 1996. Growth of the agricultural sector is still slowly bouncing back to 5.7 percent from a fall of 0.1 percent in 996 (2). Successive five year plans since 1951, have slowly achieved a steady rate of economic growth, except for periods of severe drought.

Agriculture generates about one-third of the value of India’s annual GDP. Most farms are very small. In terms of area sown, the leading crop is rice, the staple foodstuff of a large part of the Indian population. Wheat comes next in importance to rice, and India is also among the leading producers in the world of sugar cane, tea, cotton, and jute. Cashews, coffee, and spices are also important cash crops. Other crops include vegetables, melons, sorghum, millet, corn, barley, chickpeas, bananas, mangoes, rubber, and linseed. The raising of livestock particularly horned cattle, buffalo, horses and mule is a central feature of the agricultural economy of India. These animals are utilized most exclusively as beast of burden, mainly because meat consumption, according to religious or social scruples is not permitted among the Hindu’s. As a result, the breeds of cattle in India are generally inferior (1).

The Republic of India is governed according to the plan of a constitution adopted in 1949, which includes various features of the constitutional systems of Great Britian, the United States, and other Western democracies. By the terms of the Indian organic law the government is federal in its structure and republican in character. Similar to the United States, India is a union of states, but its government is more highly concentrated than the US government, and rights that the states are territories have are severely limited.

The Chief executive and head of state in India is president. The job of the president in government is mostly symbolic and ceremonial, nevertheless the actual executive power dwells on a council of members responsible to the parliament, which is made up of the Council of States and the House of People. The president is elected for a five-year term by an electoral college which consists of the elected members of the national and state legislatures and is eligible for consecutive terms.

The House of the People consist of 545 members which are elected by universal adult suffrage, except for a couple members who are selected by the president to represent the Anglo-Indian community. Members of the House of the People normally serve for five years, which is the statutory limit for the duration of the house, but the house may be broken up upon defeat of major legislation which is always planned by the executive branch of Government. In many aspects the Government of India is similar to that of the U.S. except that the U.S has the advantage in that it’s much more liberal (1).

Ancient India was a country of considerable educational development, with universities that attracted many foreign students. Asians, especially the Chinese, were attracted to Indian universities, because they offered instruction in the teachings of Buddha. India also would increase their educational influence by sending its university graduates to the orient to teach. However, from the 13th century and on the original contribution of the Indians weakened, and application of newer educational methods was reduced. Since gaining it’s independence from Great Britain, India has tried to develop a modern and complete school system. However, the problem of educating the vast population with its many social and religious differences, has remained difficult. When it comes to literacy, 52 percent of the people age 15 and over can read and write. There is no doubt that males are better educated that females when their literacy rates are compared; 65.5 percent of males are literate as opposed to only 37.7 percent of females (6). Most of the time funds that otherwise would have been used for education have top be used to fight the problems of poverty, food shortages and overpopulation (7).

The school systems of the various states are under the control of the state governments, and the federal ministry of education helps the state systems, directs the systems of the centrally administered areas, provides financial help for the nations institutions of higher learning, and gives out other various responsibilities. The current slightly modified pattern of schooling in India is ten years of elementary and high school, two of higher secondary education, and three of university. India has about 180 universities and about 8000 technical, arts, and science colleges.

Since independence the government has been very attentive to the health problems of the nation. But despite strong efforts in areas of preventive medicine, sanitation, and nutrition, health conditions remain marginal; although epidemics of smallpox, cholera, dysentery, and elephantantiosis no longer are common. Much of the population continues to suffer from malnutrition; starvation is a frequent result of drought; However some progress has been made in fighting malaria and plague and in controlling tuberculosis. The overall life expectancy is 62.9 years as to before in 1941 which was 32 years (1).

Throughout South Asia, people are shorter, skinnier, and less productive than nature meant them to be. Indians use to try to make themselves feel better by saying that “small is healthy”. Dr. C. Gopalan, which is the director of Nutrition Foundation of India disapproves of this doctrine by saying that it’s “dangerous, cynical, and damaging.” He and other Indian scientist now agree on a Universal Standard for nourishment, measuring weight for age and weight for height. By that standard, South Asia has the world’s worst nutrition record and contains half of the world’s malnourished children. More than half of India’s under-fives, some 70 million children, have a life of stunted mental and physical growth. Fifty-three percent of the children in India are malnourished (6).

The explanation can be seen in methods of childcare, and treatment of women. A report that will be published by the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, says that low birth weight is “the best single predictor of malnutrition.” A third of Indian babies are underweight which is twice of that of Africa, because Indian mothers are much more likely than African mothers to be poorly nourished and anemic. The maternal mortality rate for India is among the highest at 570 deaths per 100,000 live births; as is the infant mortality rate at 63.13 deaths per 1,000 live births (8). Mothers who do survive are often ill-fed and cannot provide acceptable breast milk. So, by six months old, when babies should start on solid food, Indians are already at a disadvantage. During the crucial next year, babies are not given enough food to allow their brains and bodies to grow normally. Seventy percent of children get nothing besides milk the first year of their life.

Kerala, the state with the lowest levels of child malnutrition also has one of the lowest average levels of food consumption. The richest state, maharashtra, has one of the highest malnutrition rates. Babies that are underfed are even found in the middle class. Feeding young children takes patience and time that hard working mothers cannot spare; most of the problem is caused by ignorance. Most Indian parents simply do not know that tiny children need regular feeding with calorie-rich foods such as mushy rice or lentils. By the time a hungry child is able to say for themselves, the damage of deprivation is done. After the age of two, it is too late to make up for early food deficits.

Disease is both a cause and an effect of malnutrition. India has ten times the population density of sub-Saharan Africa, with a much higher proportion of its people living in urban shantytowns. These are breeding grounds for diseases such as diarrhea and respiratory infections that drain away nutrients. Even a mildly malnourished child is two times more likely than a properly fed child to die from a common child-hood disease, however Indians have better access to health care than Africans, in that more sick and poorly fed Indian babies survive. Researchers are surprised that malnourishment among girls is only a tad worse that that of boys, who are greatly favored in Indian families. The answer is most likely that boys get more food, just the wrong kind of food (3).

The chance of acute malnutrition is definitely high among children, especially in the age groups of 0 – 3 years in almost all states. In India only 57 percent make it to their first birthday. In many states, the percentage of children with sufficient caloric protein intakes was much lower when compared to the percentage for households.

The major nutritional problem in India is definitely PCM or protein calorie malnutrition, especially among most vulnerable groups like children, pregnant women, lower income groups and population living in tribal tracts. The term PCM implies that the problem of malnutrition is one of the mostly calorie or energy intake deficiency, the protein deficiency being secondary, since in Indian conditions, the dietary sources of proteins and calories are the same, so an adequate quota of calories will expectedly take care of an adequate protein in the diet.

The other major nutritional deficiency diseases are vitamin A deficiency, goitre and iron deficiency anemia. In certain parts of India fluorosis is also a problem due to the presence of excessive amounts of fluoride in drinking water. Pellagra, caused due to niacin or nicotinic acid deficiency is prevalent in populations whose staple diet is maize

Many of the diseases mentioned have secondary effects. PCM is known to lower work capacity and productivity and worse alter immune response and mental function. Endemic goitre, caused by iodine and deficiency, results in cretinism, deaf mutism and idiocy for the children of goitre victims (4). Nutritional anemia among pregnant women accounted for 20 percent of maternal deaths and high premature birhts. The economic cost of these nutritional disorders apart from the social and political costs, is tremendous, some of them immediately apparent, many others that would unfold over the years (5).

There are many things that India needs to do to help improve the living conditions and health there. Most nutritionists now agree on what needs to be done. Create a virtuous cycle, starting with getting more food into the mouths of babies. Then direct attention to tomorrow’s mothers-as young girls who need to be educated, as adolescents who need to grow in full size, and as pregnant women who need to gain weight and escape anemia, so as to produce full-weight babies. None of this really requires much extra spending just a change in dietary habits which is very difficult. It’s even harder to change the habits of upbringing, but the costs of not doing so can be counted in hundred of millions of undersized bodies and stunted minds.

The diets recommended should be at least expensive and confirm to their traditional and cultural practices. The energy they derive from cereals should not exceed 75 percent of the total energy requirement. About 150g of vegetables should be provided in their diet. Also energy derived from fat and oil need not exceed 15 percent of total calories and energy receive from refined carbohydrates (sugar or jaggery) should not exceed 5 percent.

When it comes to children the message that needs to get across is, first of all, breast feeding as long as possible is very important. Secondly, one should introduce semisolids to children from 6 months and feed them 3 to 6 times a day. One should never reduce food in illness and should always use available health services and immunize your child. It is very important to always keep the family and surroundings clean. Another very important tip is to never ignore mother’s health and food needs during pregnancy and lactation. India may also show more improvement it lowers the fertility rate which is currently 3.24 children born per women, down to at least 2 children born, to make it less mouths too feed.

In the education aspect toe government should definitely enforce going to school. It should with out a doubt equally enforce both girls and boys to attend school. It is not fair at all that currently boys have a better chance of getting an education than girls.

India has a lot of work to do to make it into the idealistic place to live in. However, with government help and much patience and perseverance conditions could slowly but greatly improve.

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