Union budget of India
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- Despite the annual embarrassment of India scoring a poor rank on the Global Hunger Index, nutrition and hunger hardly merit a mention in the budget speeches of our finance ministers. The last time there was anything related to tackling malnutrition among women and children was in 2014-15 – the first budget of the Narendra Modi government – where Arun Jaitley announced that a national nutrition mission would be launched. [...] Notwithstanding its positioning, budget 2020 in effect fails on many counts to respond to the nutrition challenge in India. The direct programmes which address the multidimensional nature of malnutrition including the ICDS, mid-day meals, PMMVY and Poshan Abhiyan are underfunded and at the same time PDS which contributes to basic food security is sought to be undermined. The government seems to be oblivious to the situation of hunger in the country. It further seeks to create an illusion of plenty by arguing in the Economic Survey in its chapter on 'Thalinomics' that food affordability has increased in the last few years. This chapter is based on a flawed methodology where it compares food prices as a proportion of incomes of workers in organised manufacturing who comprise less than 5% workers in India and does not take into account that wages for the majority have been stagnating and unemployment is at its peak.