Parliamentary Discourse on Nutrition

What motivates law makers to ask questions

Cover page on report on Discourse on Parliamentary Discourse on Nutrition


Malnutrition continues to be a critical issue in India, affecting both children and adults. Nutrition is often a subject of interest in questions posed by parliamentarians to the Indian government. This research reviews two decades of parliamentary questions and their responses about a timeline of critical nutrition events to identify key themes, trends and patterns observed in the discourse on nutrition. It also attempts to determine what provoked these questions being raised by the parliamentarians.

Data were extracted through the online databases of parliamentary questions from 2000 until 2021. The questions were identified through the following key words: nutrition, undernutrition, micronutrient, wasting, underweight, malnutrition, anaemia, Poshan and obesity. Metadata was collected during the year through parliament sessions, ministry and parliament house where the question was posed.

The extracted data were organised in a database with metadata and the submitter's name and ministry of the respondent, key themes, questions and a summary of the response provided. Data for 2,005 questions were extracted and analysed with
qualitative methods.

The review of two decades of parliamentary questions on nutrition and associated topics revealed information on the topics of interest, themes covered, nature of discourse and what influenced the composition of questions. We found that a majority of the questions raised focused upon the national-level implementation of critical programmes such as the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme (MDMS), Public Distribution System (PDS), Supplementary Nutrition Programme (SNP), Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (SABLA) and Poshan Abhiyaan. In terms of house-wise distribution of questions, Lok Sabha had a higher number of questions as compared to the Rajya Sabha. 

The peak years for several questions raised in the Parliament were 2009, 2011 and 2020. Poshan Abhiyaan, launched in 2018, was identified as the likely stimulus for many questions. Other important events in the nutrition domain were not found to be linked to the number or type of questions raised. Regarding probable triggers, only 10.7% of the questions referenced specific articles or publications. The referred documents in the Parliamentary Questions included national and international reports, newspaper articles, and global and Supreme Court orders as the source of information that prompted questions.

Cover page on Discourse on Parliamentary Discourse on Nutrition
Publication date

Files available for download