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Prime Minister to discuss malnutrition at the Chief Ministers' meet

Members of the Citizens' Alliance Against Malnutrition
© UNICEF/India/2007
Members of the Citizens' Alliance Against Malnutrition-from left Shahnawaz Hussain, MP, BJP; Rahul Bose, actor; Supriya Sule, MP,NCP; and Jay Panda of the BJP addressing the media after their meetings with the Prime Minister, Sonia Gandhi and L.K. Advani.

By Augustine Veliath

1 August 2007, New Delhi : Malnutrition will be on the top of the agenda when the Chief Ministers of the country meet here for the National Development Council (NDC), said the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.  The NDC meets periodically to review progress on major development issues.  Dr. Manmohan Singh was responding to the team members of the Citizens’ Alliance Against Malnutrition who called on him on 16 July 2007.

The Citizens’ Alliance Against Malnutrition, led by young members of parliament across parties,  formed earlier this year to bring the issue of malnutrition centre stage of national discourse, met with Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh,  Chairperson of the ruling United Progressive Alliance Sonia Gandhi, Leader of the Opposition Mr. L.K. Advani on July 16, 2007 in New Delhi.  Mr. Cecilio Adorna, the UNICEF India representative  accompanied the alliance team to the meetings.

The 14 member group, including seven young MPs and personalities from the film and art world, gathered in Delhi for a day to meet with political leaders and with experts to evolve a blueprint and a roadmap for a malnutrition free India.

Earlier this year they had gone on a field visit to tribal villages in Madhya Pradesh to study the ground situation. More visits to other malnutrition-affected states are on the anvil in the coming months.

The group also had discussions with Renuka Chowdhury, Minister for Women and Child Development. The group discussed possible steps which can be taken in the short term and in the long run to combat malnutrition.  

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh complimented the group for its initiative and said, “The Government will partner you in creating a national movement on the issue of malnutrition.” 

After the meeting, the Prime Minister’s Office sent word to the Group suggesting that they come up with a 10 point programme which could be taken up for discussion at the next meeting of the National Development Council.

The Prime Minister also informed the group that he would also meet with them again on the eve of the NDC meeting for further consultations/discussion.  He urged them to undertake a more field visits before the NDC meets.

The group met with the Prime Minister and updated him on their visits to the tribal areas of M.P. where the malnutrition situation is serious
© UNICEF/India/2007
The group met with the Prime Minister and updated him on their visits to the tribal areas of M.P. where the malnutrition situation is serious.

The Group apprised the Prime Minister about their field visit to tribal villages in Gwalior district of Madhya Pradesh in March this year. They had chosen to go to Madhya Pradesh because malnutrition had gone up by 10 points there in the last seven years.

The Group called on Sonia Gandhi, the Chairperson of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA). Ms Gandhi said she was particularly happy that an issue like malnutrition had brought together leaders from different parties on one platform.  “This issue needs urgent attention and you have our total support for it.” she said.

Members of the Citizens’ Alliance also spent half an hour with Mr. L.K. Advani, and he too was happy that the group cut across party and ideological affiliations. “If the pulse polio programme could reach out to every village and hamlet, there is no reason why the fight against malnutrition should not do the same”, he said.

Minister for Women & Child Development, Renuka Chowdhury apprised  the groupof  the Ministry’s  new initiatives. . Among other things, she sought a meeting with the group every three months to get a feedback from them and also have a work session on how to move forward.
During the day three national experts briefed the Alliance members. They were Dr V Ramani, Head of the Nutrition Mission in Maharashtra, Dr M.K. Bhan, Secretary Government of India, Department of  Biotechnology, and Mr Chaman Kumar, Joint Secretary  in the Ministry of Woman and Child Development who is in charge of the ICDS programme.



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