With about 46 percent of children underweight — a negligible improvement over the last survey, conducted in 1998-99 — India is in the same league as nations like Burkina Faso and Cambodia. In China, Asia’s other rising economic power and the country India so often compares itself with, only 8 percent of children are underweight.
The improved infant mortality rate — down to 57 per 100,000 births from 68 in 1998-99 — remains dramatically higher than that seen in Western nations, such the Netherlands, where it is 4.
In every category where a comparison between the health of people in the countryside and cities was offered, those in rural areas lagged far behind. The rural infant mortality rate, for example, was 62 per 100,000, compared to 42 the in urban areas.
Such statistics show India “should be worried,” said Werner Schultink of UNICEF. “It’s going to be difficult for India if wants to use its human resources to develop the nation but does not make improvements.”
I don’t really know what to say, it is depressing, and points to the enormous amount of basic nuts and bolts infrastructure work that needs to be done in India. Back to themes from yesterday’s sewer post, it is basic government work, not sexy, not exciting, not flashy, just plodding mundane get it right kind of infrastructure building. It HAS to be done, there’s no sense in pointing to fancy malls in Bangalore or a super wonderful space program. One day, when I have time, I will convert all these percentages to numbers, percentages are good for comparing data, but to get a true sense of the magnitude, I think numbers are necessary. Quick calculation,the 2001 Indian Census says there were 350 million children (15 years old or less) in 2001, well, that makes 170 million starving (okay, “underweight”) children, it’s a happy place, ain’t it?