Editorial Analysis : 2nd November 2021

Editorials covered

  1. Getting nutrition back on the school high table
  2. Finding a way out of India’s deepening water stress

Getting nutrition back on the school high table

What is discussed?

The article discusses about the need for improving nutrition of children especially the school going children and the challenges associated with it.


  • As the vaccination has not reached Children the focus should be on the nutrition of children to ensure that they are armed with good immunity as they get ready to take on new challenges especially after emerging from the confines of their homes.
  • Even before the onset of the COVID19 pandemic, India was facing significant nutritional challenges. Hence, there is a need to pivot on children’s nutrition, using the novel coronavirus pandemic to better understand current nutrition and nutritional requirements for a healthy body and mind.

India’s Triple Burden

  • India faces multiple problems of undernutrition and overweight/ obesity coexisting with deficiencies of micronutrients such as iron, zinc, calcium and several vitamins.
  • The triple burden of malnutrition has to be identified, understood and addressed.


  • It is important to address these issues especially in the case of children and adolescents as it is during these phases of life that we see rapid growth of the body and development of food habits.
  • But specifically, when the growth spurt happens at about 10-12 years in girls and two years later in boys during adolescence, their nutritional needs are vastly increased.
  • In the case of girls, their nutritional status impacts not only their health but that of generations to come.
  • Malnutrition in any form can put children and adolescents at risk of compromised immune function, thus making them vulnerable to infections.


  • In urban as well as among middle class and affluent communities, restricted movement, constrained socialization and even dwindling physical contact have become the new normal.
  • COVID19 isolation and fatigue have led to generalized stress, adding to the immunity challenge for children.
  • These challenges coupled with a lack of diet diversity leading to imbalanced micronutrient intake or consumption of high carbohydrate and high sugar foods, endanger the child’s health by compromising their immunity and making them vulnerable to infections.


  • It is essential to look beyond minimum calorie requirements and ensure children consume a balanced diet with adequate diversity in order to ensure the required balance of all necessary nutrients.
  • Providing children with a balanced diet packed with all the necessary nutrients provides them with a solid foundation for an active and healthy life.
  • Often overlooked, micronutrients are essential for production of enzymes, hormones and other substances for good immune function, healthy growth and development. Each stage of the body’s immune response relies on the presence of many micronutrients.
  • To combat hidden hunger, affordable, accessible and diverse food sources must be made available across India.

Government schemes

  • The Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman Yojana (PM POSHAN)
    • The midday meal programme in its new avatar — is all set to broad base itself even to students of preprimary levels or Bal Vatikas of government and government aided primary schools along with primary and upper primary schoolchildren who are already within the ambit of the midday meal programme.
    • The PM POSHAN envisages providing 450 Kcal energy and 12g of protein for primary; 700 Kcal and 20g protein for upper primary children through diet diversity.
    • In addition, monitoring haemoglobin levels of schoolchildren, appointment of nutritional experts to ensure the haemoglobin and growth status are continuously monitored; focus on nutrigardens are all welcome steps as we prepare to reopen schools.
    • Special provisions for nutritional items for children in districts with high prevalence of anaemia and the involvement of farmer producer organisations and self help group women will strengthen linkages and convergence for promoting children’s nutrition.

Way forward

  • COVID19 or no COVID19, good immunity will lay the foundation for long term wellbeing. Good nutrition, safe food, and positive lifestyles are the cornerstones of great immune function. To ensure this, schools, when they reopen, should be avenues for teaching nutrition as a life skill than rhetorical pedagogy. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that our children are nurtured and nourished.

India’s Deepening water Crisis

What is discussed?

The article discusses about India’s deepening water crisis and need for an integrated approach to tackle the same

Integrated approach

  • The complexity and scale of the water crisis in India calls for a locus specific response, that can galvanise and integrate the ongoing work of different Ministries and Departments throughnew configurations.
  • Such an integrated approach must necessarily cut across sectoral boundaries and not stop at the merger achieved between the two Ministries of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, which led to the formation of the Ministry of Jal Shakti in 2019.

Water Usage in India
The sources from which the country draws water to meet its varying needs.

  • In the rural areas, 80%-90% of the drinking water and 75% of the water used for agriculture is drawn from groundwater sources.
  • In urban areas, 50%-60% of the water supply is drawn from groundwater sources, whereas the remaining is sourced from surface water resources such as rivers, often located afar, in addition to lakes, tanks and reservoirs.
  • According to the composite water management index released by the think tank NITI Aayog in 2019, 21 major cities (including Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad) were on the brink of exhausting groundwater resources, affecting about 100 million people.
  • The study also points out that by 2030, the demand for water is projected to be twice the available supply.

Case Study(Urban): Chennai Water crisis

  • Chennai remains a spectacle of the impending tragedies brought about by the city’s inability to meet the basic needs of citizens, vis-à-vis drinking water, cooking and sanitation.
  • The factors that brought about the water crisis in Chennai
    • the poor rainfall received in Chennai in the previous year.
    • The city has been built by incrementally encroaching floodplains and paving over lakes and wetlands that would have otherwise helped the process of recharging groundwater.
    • The lack of space for water to percolate underground prevented rainwater from recharging the aquifers.
    • This was further exacerbated by the loss of green cover (which would have otherwise helped water retention) to make way for infrastructure projects. Such a situation, on the one hand, leads to flooding during normal rainfall due to stagnation, and on the other hand leads to drought like conditions due to the prevention of underground water storage.
  • It is only that this situation was more magnified in Chennai, but other cities in India would echo these manifestations in varying degrees owing to a lack of sustainable urban planning.

Need for synergy(Urban)

  • If the Government is serious about addressing the water crisis in urban areas, the Ministry of Water Resources must reconfigure its relationship with other Ministries and Departments (Urban Development, Local Self Government and Environment).
  • This would be for enhanced integration and coordination through effective land and water zoning regulations that protect urban water bodies, groundwater sources, wetlands and green cover while simultaneously working to enhance waste water recycling and water recharge activities targeting aquifers and wells through rainwater harvesting.

Case Study(Rural): Lessons from rural Punjab

  • In rural areas, the situation is no different, as the acute water crisis in Punjab shows.
  • The draft report of the Central Ground Water Board concluded that Punjab would be reduced to a desert in 25 years if the extraction of its groundwater resources continues unabated;
  • 82% of Punjab’s land area has seen a huge decline in groundwater levels, wherein 109 out of 138 administrative blocks have been placed in the ‘over exploited’ category.
  • Groundwater extraction which was at 35% in the 1960s and 1970s, rose to 70% post the Green Revolution — a period which saw governments subsidising power for irrigation that left tubewells running for hours.
  • Concomitantly, cultivation of water intensive crops such as paddy have further aggravated water depletion, even turning water saline.

Need for Synergy(Rural)

  • Immediate measures need to be taken to manage and replenish groundwater, especially through participatory groundwater management approaches with its combination of water budgeting, aquifer recharging and community involvement.
  • Such an approach to water conservationm again beckons new configurations between sectors and disciplines.
  • At the sectoral level, the Ministries and Departments of water resources must coordinate efforts with their counterparts in agriculture, the environment and rural development for greater convergence to achieve water and food security.
  • At the disciplinary level, governance and management should increasingly interact and draw from the expertise of fields such as hydrology (watershed sustainability), hydrogeology (aquifer mapping and recharge) and agriculture sciences (water sensitive crop choices and soil health).

Surface water conservation

  • The importance given to groundwater conservation should not ignore surface water conservation including the many rivers and lakes which are in a critical and dying state due to encroachment, pollution, over abstraction and obstruction of water flow by dams.

Protecting resources: Way forward

  • The Ministry of Jal Shakti, last year, had announced an ambitious plan to provide water connections to every household in India by 2024
  • In view of the ongoing erosion of water resources and an ever increasing demand for water,
    the thrust should not be on promising water supply. Instead the aim should be towards protecting
    and conserving water resources on the one hand and minimizing and enhancing efficiency of water
    usage on the other.
  • As the expert committee constituted under the Union Water Resources Ministry drafts a new National Water Policy, one hopes it would be rooted in locus specific realities and allows greater flexibility for integrating the insights and work of multiple departments and disciplines making
    way for new configurations to sustainably manage the country’s water resources.

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