Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Tamilnadu. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Tamilnadu. Sort by date Show all posts

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

TAMILNADU'S PARADOX - Alarming malnutrition pushing children out of school - I

By M H Ahssan

Tamilnadu leads the country in nutritional interventions and yet has alarming levels of hunger in children. Research indicates that is a very likely cause of poor schooling achievement and drop-out rates.

Despite several schemes, chronic malnutrition persists in Tamilnadu and this is very likely a major cause for continuing poor performance and high dropout rates of children in Tamilnadu’s government schools. Ironically, the state leads the country in nutritional interventions and has improved its standing in comparison to other states in the last two decades since the scaling up of nutrition schemes. Yet, nutritional status have only marginally improved and in some cases like the anaemia count going up, perplexing activists, policy researchers, and funding organisations.

The state is a study in contradictions: It gave the country its direct nutrition intervention in the form of the Noon-meal Programme (NMP), and yet has alarming levels of hunger, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute's India State Hunger Index (ISHI) of 2008. The index gave the state this rating from a choice of: low, moderate, serious (6 states), alarming (10 states including TN), extremely alarming (Madhya Pradesh). The ratings are based on the prevalence of calorie-energy deficiency, child mortality and the number of children below the age of 5 who are underweight.

One out of every three persons ate less than 1,632 calories a day (much lower than the national Below Poverty Line cutoff of 2,100 calories) in Tamilnadu. Every third child below the age of 5 in the state is underweight (low weight for age) and the under 5 mortality rate of is 3.5 per 100 births.

The National Family Health Survey data of 2008 show a similar trend: Almost one-third (31 per cent) of children under age five in Tamilnadu are stunted, or too short for their age, which indicates that they have been undernourished for some time; 22 percent are wasted, or too thin for their height, which may result from inadequate recent food intake or recent illness and 30 per cent are underweight, which takes into account both chronic and acute undernutrition.

Seven out of every 10 children below the age of 5 have iron-deficiency anaemia (IDA) according to the NFHS. IDA has actually increased from 69 to 73 percent in the 0-3 age group from the last survey of 1998. Only 40 per cent of the households have access to adequately iodised salt and Vitamin A deficiency persisted despite prevention programmes.

The effects of such acute and chronic undernutrition are well established. Increased mortality, poor cognitive and motor development and other impairments in function as fallout of undernutrition, show Dr Stuart Gillespie and Dr Lawrence J Haddad of IFPRI in their book The Double Burden of Malnutrition: Causes, Consequences and Solution. “Children who have been severely undernourished in early childhood suffer a later reduction in IQ by as many as 15 points (Martorell 1996), significantly affecting schooling achievement and increasing the risks of drop-out or repeat grades.”

Impact of stopping noon meals for over-14
Activists of Right to Food (Tamilnadu) also chalk up a higher drop out rate of close to 40 per cent in the higher classes also to the cessation of noon meal schemes after the age of 14. S Kanniyan, RTF-TN convenor, says with decrease in agricultural work in the villages, more and more women have taken up contract work in construction industry. “Many children no longer have breakfast because their mothers need to be at work early in the day. Classroom hunger is a serious cause of concern. When the child comes hungry to school, her learning is going to be impacted. Often teachers do not understand the reasons for poor scholastic achievements and instead punish the students; which only pushes the child into dropping out,” he said.

The noon meal is made available in higher secondary classes only to students belonging to MBC, SC/ST castes. Often older children are ashamed of the caste and socio-economic status identification their noon meal plates accord them and prefer to skip the meal altogether, says Aruna Rathnam, Education specialist, UNICEF. “Younger children are more enthusiastic about noon meals, especially since the introduction of eggs two times a week, because of hunger. For adolescents, the lunch hour becomes a question of peer acceptance and socialisation. Many students prefer to eat packaged food of poor nutritive value to the prepared meals in schools," she says.

Even in the below 14 category, the efficiency has come under question. A review of Tamilnadu's Noon-meal programme (NMP) implementation shows that the per-day-per-child expenditure is 35 paise, for vegetable, condiments and salt. TN FORCES, an NGO that works throughout the state with day cares and crèches, says vegetables or oil or other seasoning are often not present in the Anganwadi centres. Sometimes even salt is brought from the home of the beneficiaries. TN FORCES is the state wing of Delhi-based FORCES.

K Shanmughavelayutham, TN FORCES convenor says that only two-thirds of children who are eligible for the nutritious meal scheme get coverage. Despite that, the nutrition schemes are unable to meet the needs and the government should commit at least 3 percent of the budget for nutrition, he says.

Both Right To Food and TN FORCES have been seeking an improvement in infrastructure and quality of food given to children. “After the death of a child in Melvalampettai Higher Secondary School after a vessel holding hot sambar toppled onto him, we sought improvements to NMP kitchens in schools. A committee that inquired into the incident that happened in 2006, said NMP urgently needed upgraded, smokeless kitchen and a safe serving/eating area. The improvements have been slow in coming.

“Nutritionally too, the scheme needs a re-think. Rice that is used is from the Civil Supplies department and is so heavily processed that it is shorn of all nutrients other than starch. The only other food children get is red gram (masoor dhal) in the sambar, not even oil. The meal, though supposedly provides one third the calorie need of the child, does little else in the form of minerals or vitamins," they say.

Tackling the challenge of Anaemia
Another issue that has the child health organisations worried is that of iron deficiency anaemia (IDA). According to NFHS-3, in the below 5 years group, a majority -- 64 percent – is anaemic. This includes 27 percent who are mildly anaemic, 35 percent moderately anaemic, and 3 percent with severe anaemia. Children of mothers who have anaemia are much more likely to be anaemic themselves. And in the state, those numbers are also of concern: various health surveys put that between 53 and 69 percent for pregnant women.

Dr Devashish Dutta, Specialist in charge of Health, UNICEF office for Tamilnadu and Kerala says maternal anaemia impacts maternal mortality. It could also lead to pre-term deliveries, abortions and growth retardation with nutrition to the unborn baby being less than sufficient, he says. “Anaemia reduces the capacity of the baby to survive, through diminished immunity, poor growth and development. Poor immunity leads to the child falling ill often, which in turn impacts her nutritional status leading to further reduced growth and immunity, and hence more illness and so on. When the child grows up to have children, the vicious cycle of anaemia leading to low birth weight, poor immunity, frequent illnesses, retarded growth, development and malnutrition is repeated," says Dr Dutta.

Gillespie and Goddad, in their book, further aver: “Infants with low birth weight are born with low iron stores, depleted by two to three months. Because breast milk cannot meet their iron requirements, it should be supplemented with iron starting at two months of age....

"Iron supplementation of anaemic preschoolers improves their cognitive and physical development.”

Unfortunately, the under-five group is outside the purview of the IDA prevention programme in Tamilnadu, that focus on adolescent girls and pregnant women. Nor have issues like links between poor iron absorption and Vitamin A deficiency and worm infestation been integrated into the scheme.

“Protein deficiency in the diet can also cause anaemia, given that iron binds with a protein called globulin. Often more than one deficiency co-exists indicating that the nature and quantity of food available or feeding practices were poor," says Dr Dutta.

Even in the case of adolescent girls who receive the weekly supplementation of Iron and Folic Acid tablets, activists are not happy. A daily supplementation dose will not have as many side-effects as the weekly dosing, which are often accompanied by black stools, gastro-intestinal discomfort, and malaise. “Ideally, the supplement is had in the night after dinner with another food with vitamin C like lime juice or sweet oranges. But the government has asked us to ensure that the IFA is taken in our presence, so we give it with the noon meals. Occasionally, some girls feel nauseous or vomit after taking the tablets. Then encouraging others to consume it becomes an issue," says S Tamilazhagi (name changed to protect identity), an Anganwadi supervisor in St Thomas Mount Panchayat union, that abuts Chennai Metropolitan area to the west.

Some anganwadi workers who are involved in distributing IFA tablets in neighbouring Kancheepuram and Thiruvallur districts say the supply has been erratic over the past two years and others allege that after initial testing of haemoglobin levels in 2005-2006, the government has subsequently failed to study the impact of the programme.

“The distribution of tablets or testing for haemoglobin levels depend on the initiative of the VHNs and Anganwadi workers. Often the service delivery is interrupted because of government chooses to implement other non-nutrition related schemes through us. For example, we are also to talk to the adolescent group about nutrition, reproductive health, menstrual hygiene and entrepreneurship development," says N Gomathi, a leader in the TN VHN Association.

(Click here to read - Part - 2)

Saturday, May 25, 2013


By M H Ahssan / Hyderabad

Television news in the southern part of the country has largely become the preserve of the various political dynasties, with a glut of channels acting as mouthpieces of the owners rather than objective news broadcasters. INN brings us the true picture. 

A joke in Tamilnadu one has heard several times is about how Tamilians ensure they get the right news.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Political Twists & Turns In Tamilnadu: Perfecting The Art Of Switching Sides To Stay Afloat In Power Pool Settlements

By Sujata Pillai | INNLIVE

TAMILNADU POLITICS The birth of new alliances in Tamil Nadu this election once again proves that politicians don’t hesitate to find strange bedfellows at will. Ever since smaller regional parties began to flaunt their distinct vote banks in 1998, ideology has taken a backseat during polls.

The PMK, which consolidated its base in the Vanniyars belt in the north and north-west regions has the reputation of hopping camps almost in every election since 1998, barring the 2006 Assembly election when it remained in the DMK camp.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Poverty Forced Her To Live On Brick Bites In Tamilnadu

By Selvanatham / Chennai

Born into a poor family with no means for two square meals a day, an octogenarian and her family members had no option but to subsist on pieces of bricks, mud and ash for a long time — and now she has become addicted to it. “I was born in a poor family and at times we had nothing to eat. We used to eat pieces of bricks, mud and ash. Even after my marriage to a daily wage earner, the situation did not change,” said Saraswathi, a resident of Vishwapuram in Thoothukudi in Tamilnadu, who works as a domestic help at several houses in Muthammal Nagar.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

J. Jayalalitha - The Iron Lady of Tamil Nadu

Birth Name: J. Jayalalitha

Informal names :
Ammu, Puratchi Thalaivi

Actor turned Politician

Birth on Feb-24-1948 at Mysore

Father � Jeyaram, Mother - Sandya


Bishop cotton Girls High School, Bangalore.
Church Park Convent, Chennai.

Awards and Achievements
1972- Kalaimamani award from the government of Tamilnadu.
1991- Was conferred the Degree of Doctor of Literature(D.Litt) by the University of Madras.
1992- Dr MGR Medical University conferred the degree of Doctor of Science.
1993-Madurai Kamaraj University conferred the degree of Doctor of Letters.
2003-Tamil Nadu Agricultural University conferred the degree of Doctor of Science.
2003-Bharathidasan University conferred the degree of Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa)

Fine arts:
As a dancer well versed in Bharata Natyam, Mohini Attam, Kathak,Manipuri.

Influential persons in her life
Mother Celine(school head mistress)
Her mother for her career in films.
Dr. M.G.R for her career in politics.

Has a large private library with a huge collection of books. Likes to watch old tamil, hindi and english movies. Once mentioned that she was impressed by the book "Wild Swans".

Debut movie:
Kannada film:'Chinnada Gombe'
Telugu film: 'Manushulu Mamathalu'
Tamil film : 'vennira aadai '
With MGR: "Aayirarhthil Oruvan"
With Shivaji: 'Galaata Kalyaanam'

Political Entry :
First as the Secretary of the AIADMK, then was nominated to the Rajya Sabha.

Chief Minister
First Tenure: 24-06-1991 to 12-05-1996,
Second Tenure: 14-05-2001 to 21-09-2001
Third Tenure: 02-03-2002 to -12-05-2006
Fourth Tenure: May 2011

Portfolio's handled by her as C.M. Public, General Administration, Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service, other All India Services, District Revenue Officers, Home, Police and Minorities Welfare.

Schemes for the welfare of women
Cradle baby scheme.
All women police station.
Personal Highs
In 1982 when she gave her maiden speech about 'pennin perumai' which was applauded by Dr. M.G.R and In 1984 her Rajya sabha maiden speech which impressed Mrs.Indira Gandhi

Other Facts and controversies
After completion of Matriculation in 1964, she won a scholarship from Government of India for higher studies but did not accept it as she took up a career in films.

Played 'herself' as a politician/chief minister in the movie 'Neenga Nalla Erukkanum'

The first Woman Leader of the Opposition in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly.
She was elected from Andipatti Assembly constituency in February 2002 to become the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu.

About her life
"One-third of my life was dominated by my mother, the other part - a major one - was dominated by MGR. Two-third of my life is thus over. One third remains and this part of my life remains for myself but there are some responsibilities and duties to be fulfilled".                             

Monday, June 15, 2009

Price of rice, price of power

By M H Ahssan

Most governments that stressed welfarist measures gained in last month's elections. Food prices and cheap rice are crucial, though not the sole issues.

Now that we have a Cabinet whose assets total close to Rs.5 billion on its own declaration, with Ministers worth over Rs.75 million each on average, it will be worth watching how it rises to the challenge of identifying with the poor and the hungry. That Rs.5 billion figure, painstakingly compiled by the National Election Watch, a coalition of over 1200 civil society organisations working across India, covers 64 of the 79 Ministers. The other 15 are Rajya Sabha members whose updated assets are yet to be computed.

True, these figures are skewed by the fact that the top five Ministers alone are worth Rs. 2 billion. However, as the NEW points out, the rest are not destitute. In all, 47 of the 64 are crorepatis. And the remaining 15 won't harm the score too much when their totals come in.

Together, they will preside over the destiny of, amongst others, 836 million Indians who "get by with less than Rs.20 a day" (National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector report, August 2007). This challenge will unfold in a Lok Sabha where the average worth of an MP is Rs.51 million. Again, this average too, is skewed by a chunk of 60-70 MPs of the 543 whose asset worth is relatively very low. On the other hand, many have notched up large gains in wealth during their first term as MPs.

In a complex and layered verdict driven by many factors, one seems clear: most governments that stressed welfarist measures - particularly cheap rice and employment - gained in last month's election results. This was regardless of which party was leading them - the Congress, the BJP, the BJD, the DMK or any other. Some of these measures might not have led to large numbers of people going out to vote for those governments. But they at least lowered hostility levels amongst the voters in a hungry nation. As Madhura Swaminathan points out, the FAO data confirm that "no country comes close to India in terms of the absolute number of people living in chronic hunger."

The hungry have had it pretty bad. The rise in food prices was extremely steep over the last five years, one of our more adverse periods in decades. Between just 2004 and 2008, the price of rice rose by over 45 per cent and of wheat by more than 60 per cent. Atta, edible oils, dals, milk and even salt saw rises of between 30 and 40 per cent. Lower or near-zero inflation has seen no drop in food prices. That the media never saw hunger and cheap food as a major poll factor says more about them than the issue.

The DMK's colour television set giveaway - the focus of much derisory media attention - was never a fraction as important as its provision of 20 kg of rice per family at Rs.1 a kg since September 2008. That too, for anyone with a ration card, without dividing people into the APL or BPL groups. Tamilnadu had already been providing rice at Rs.2 a kg for some years. It also took the NREGA seriously. The State government gained on both counts.

In Andhra Pradesh, like in Tamilnadu, the Congress government of Y S Rajasekhara Reddy was helped by the presence of a third party - Chiranjeevi's Praja Rajyam - which drew a lot of anti-Congress votes, crippling the rival Telugu Desam Party. But YSR's was also a government which in its first year restored lakhs of cancelled BPL cards and issued lakhs of new ones. (The Hindu, Sept. 29, 2005) In nine years, Chandrababu Naidu's government issued no BPL card till the period just before the elections. That in a State where hunger and food have been huge issues even in urban areas.

Andhra Pradesh was where rice at Rs.2 a kg began with Naidu's father-in-law, then Chief Minister N.T. Rama Rao. NTR's charisma was never in question - but rice at Rs.2 a kg helped, more than any other factor, to convert it into votes. Chief Minister Rajasekhara Reddy in fact stole the TDP's clothes when in April 2008 he brought back the Rs.2 a kg rice scheme - a year before the national polls. This was at 4 kg per person (or 20 kg per family of five). An earlier generation of Congress leaders had trashed NTR's pet project as a "costly gimmick." But Dr. Reddy took a more sensible line and gained from it.

During Mr. Naidu's years in power, so lavishly praised in the media for his reforms, the public was repeatedly hit by massive hikes in power charges, water rates, food prices and other costs. He has not managed to live down his record or regain credibility in 2009.

His adversary ran a decent NREGA programme. In the backward Mahbubnagar district, distress migrations fell as many found work under the NREGA. This at a time when food prices were biting. So much so that people in their 70s turned up at NREG sites for work - their Rs.200-a-month pensions blown away by the rise in food prices. Even on that front, though, the Andhra Pradesh government earned some credit. When it assumed power, there were 1.8 million people in the State getting old-age, widow and disability pensions - a paltry Rs.75 each. This was raised to Rs.500 for disabled people and Rs.200 for the rest. Hardly enough - but a lot more than before. And the number of people getting these pensions rose four-fold to 7.2 million. The State also has one of the country's better pension schemes for women.

In Orissa, Naveen Patnaik played his cards most effectively, gutting the BJP and corralling the Congress. But he also gained hugely from giving people cheap rice. In the burning hunger zones of Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput, 25 kg of rice had been offered to all families at Rs.2 a kg since mid-2008. In the rest of the State, this was restricted to BPL families. The government also gave out 10 kg of free rice to the poorest families in the KBK districts. This had a major impact in curbing starvation deaths. Mr. Patnaik also increased the numbers of those coming under pension schemes - and housing projects for the poor - quite significantly. (At the same time, he implemented the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations before the polls, sewing up the middle classes as well).

Sure, these were not the only issues on which people voted, but they played a big role (In the case of YSR and Mr. Patnaik, there was another factor that helped this along. The positive measures in both States were present and visible. The negatives - and they are explosive, like massive human displacement, SEZs, dangerous mining projects - are in the pipeline. Disasters waiting to happen but which will take two or three years to do so. Unless, of course, those policies change.)

In Chhattisgarh, however repugnant the ways of that government in many spheres, Chief Minister Raman Singh took a personal interest in declaring 35 kg per family at Rs.3 a kg. His government then unilaterally "increased" the number of people below the poverty line to almost 15 million - in a population of 20.8 million (2001 census). That is, close to 70 per cent of the population was "declared" BPL. This was done several months before the 2008 Assembly elections. It helped the government in both the State and national polls.

The Left Front in West Bengal failed on both fronts. The State saw rioting at ration shops last year as the Centre cut allocations of grain sharply. Yet West Bengal, which tops the States in rice production, moved towards provision of cheaper rice only early this year. Too reluctantly and too late. Its performance in the NREGS was also very poor. Hunger was a factor in the rout of the Left Front.

So what should those in power read into the poll results? That they have a mandate for more liberalisation, privatisation, high prices and other such reforms? Or that the price of rice could be the price of power? That jobs and security are vital? Food prices and cheap rice are crucial, though not the sole issues. Governments cannot bank on such moves already made to bring them perpetual gains. But the whole process is a step ahead and has raised the bar on public expectations. Sharp reversals could prove suicidal.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

TAMILNADU'S PARADOX - Alarming malnutrition pushing children out of school - II

By M H Ahssan

NGOs have fared better than the government in tackling iron deficiency in poor children. Activists, policy analysts and funders want a convergence of various departments as opposed to boxing nutrition into the health-sector alone.

Community-based outreach
Where the juggernaut of the government faltered, voluntary organisations have prevailed. The few of them that have focussed on public health communication campaigns have had better success in reducing iron deficiency anaemia. Nalamdana Trust's five year project in the fishing hamlet of Urur-Olcott Kuppam, in south Chennai has shown that with mere information and without the free supplements it is possible to improve nutritional status.

Nithya Balaji, Executive Trustee of Nalamdana, says her project used the popular medium of theatre to introduce behavioural changes and ownership for health and nutrition projects. “At Urur kuppam, initially we got a private donors to add an additional Rupee per child per day to the ICDS expenditure to add a few locally available vegetables, dhal and oil. The children's growth charts showed an impressive increase in the first two months of nearly 1.5 kg. This scheme is currently being supported by local sponsorship, but can easily be transferred to the parents if the state permits it," she says.

The other target group of the project was adolescent girls. “As a pre intervention indicator, we measured the anemia levels of 95 girls and held regular meetings for 8 months. The sessions covered issues of understanding one's body, pre-puberty issues, reproductive health and importance of nutrition. Only accurate information had been given- no doles, no tablets. Their Hb levels had increased from 8 and 9 to 11 and 12, respectively. They had adopted better hygienic practices, started eating breakfast and also included greens, vegetables and one affordable fruit in their daily diet," says Nithya.

When the project was evaluated in 2004, after a year of information and education campaigns, Nalamdana found that haemoglobin count increased by an average of 1.5 and in girls with severe anaemia up to 5.6 counts. In a second project area in Subbu Pillai Thottam (in Central Chennai), both adolescent boys and girls were targeted with information and education campaigns done mainly through one on one interaction and street theatre. There again, the Hb levels increased by an avearage of around 2 counts. The scheme implemented in partnership with other NGOs is being continued despite the original donor agency withdrawing from the project.

Nalamdana's findings are anecdotally affirmed by the Anganwadi staff. Tamizhagi says mere supplementation showed only marginal improvement in the moderately anaemic adolescent girls. “The eating habits have changed drastically in the last two decades, moving towards a rice-based diet. Traditional iron-rich food like drumstick greens thovaiyal or curry leaf thovaiyal have become devalued and pushing those through the nutrition eduation programme often backfires with adolescents," she adds.

Nalamdana circumvented this issues by involving the community in their own nutritional improvement. Recipe clubs were formed in the study area with the women being given basic information about nutrition dense food. With help from nutritionists and students, the women innovated their own healthy recipes, thus making their integration into daily diets an easy affair, says Nithya.

Juxtapose this with a study by the National Nutrition Monitoring Board that came to the conclusion that national nutrition programmes have failed in achieving their goals largely due to lack of nutrition education with poor outreach. A study of Vitamin A deficiency among rural preschoolers done in 2007, established high prevalence of subclinical deficiency largely due to poor nutrition and that nutrition education component covered a mere 14 per cent of the target population.

No night-blindness, but Vitamin A deficiency still high
In the rural survey, NNMB, an arm of the Indian Council of Medical Research, found that nearly half the children in the under-five age group were found to have sub-clinical VAD or vitamin A level of less than 17 micrograms per decilitre. This is despite that clinical Vitamin A deficiency (night blindness, Bitot's spot and conjunctival xerosis) is prevalent in less than 0.5 percent of the children in this age group, in part due to the massive dose Vitamin A supplementation in the neonatal period (at birth) and near total institutional delivery.

In their book, Gillespie and Goddad say Vitamin A deficiency causes increased morbidity and mortality among infants, children and pregnant women, poor growth of children. It also contributes to anaemia, they say. The NNMP survey results linked poor nutritional habits and weaning food choices to the sub-clinical deficiency.

Interestingly, this study linked the higher prevalence of clinical manifestations of Vitamin A like Bitot's spot in the eye to the mother being illiterate and to populations without access to sanitary toilets. Ascaris and hookworm infestation are often leading causes for Vitamin A deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia in the state.

Poor sanitation undermining nutrition thrust
All nutrition interventions have to go hand in hand with improvements to sanitation and access to protected drinking water, believes Dr Devashish Dutta of UNICEF. “As much as 83 percent of rural homes in Tamilnadu, according to NFHS-3 surveys, do not have access to sanitary toilets and defecate in the open. ‘Sanitary toilet’ refers to one where is not just clean inside, but also where refuse is cleanly disposed off, as in through a septic tank, sewerage.

A large percentage of students do not use footwear while going to school. Hookworm enters the body through the feet of the person walking on an area contaminated with faecal matter. The worms anchor onto the small intestine and the blood loss over a period of time also leads to anaemia," he says. Though the state has its deworming programme, it could be scaled down and resources used elsewhere if people were to wear footwear before the stepped out of their homes, he adds.

Even in urban areas, only 33 per cent have access to flush toilets that are connected to sewerage, septic tank or pits, according to NFHS-3. A whopping 40 per cent have seen no improvement since the last survey of 1998 and continue to use toilets which are either shared between households or have no flushes/poured flushes. Twenty-six per cent continued to use open spaces for toilets.

This was no different even in targeted nutrition interventions like the ICDS. According to 2000-2001 study by TN-FORCES of the Anganwadis in 150 areas in Chennai showed that 87 percent of them had no access to toilet, an overwhelming 90 per cent did not have potable water, 90 per cent had no electricity and only 50 per cent were well ventilated with windows. “Often, the centres are right next to public toilets or sometimes right next to garbage collection points, making hygienic Anganwadis a rarity," says Shanmughavelayutham of TN-FORCES.

In their 2007 study of 45 best practice Anganwadis, the State ICDS Project Office reiterated their older study: 26.7 per cent had no toilets, 20 per rcent had no access to drinking water, 22 per cent had furniture for early development activities, 20 per cent had no separate kitchen and 4 percent used classrooms for cooking, 62.2 per cent had asbestos sheets for roof and 33 per cent had no indoor and outdoor space marked for grossmotor activities for the 0 to 3 age group. “This is the state in the best 45 of the 10,000-odd Anganwadis in the state. There are no norms or standardisations, no child-friendly toilets or safe areas or even adequate ventillation, says Shanmughavelayutham.

And that is why activists, policy analysts and funders alike say nutrition cannot be just a health-sector issue and have been working with the government in bringing about a convergence of various service delivery departments. All sectors like health, social welfare, nutrition, school education, women's development, civil society, water and sanitation, rights groups, universities and colleges, elected peoples representatives and the media at all levels need to make anaemia a priority as its effects are widespread, contributes significantly to a huge number of preventable deaths and illnesses and is expensive to deal with during pregnancy alone.

UNICEF is also working with the government in scaling up projects that link poverty alleviation to better nutrition. “The simple fact is a person who is born with low birth weight, goes through childhood being undernourished will do poorly in school and perhaps drop out. When he is not educated, he will make poor choices for his family about nutrition and will perpetuate the cycle," adds Shanmughavelayutham.

Others agree. Iron tablets and nutritious mix are welfare-based schemes, and at best they can be a temporary solution to a problem that needs an inter-sectoral solution.

(Click here to read - PART-1)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Special Report: 'Who Cries When A Mothers Die?'

The probability of an Indian mother dying during childbirth is roughly 10 times that of her Chinese counterpart. Reducing the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) by three-quarters in 10 years is now a Millennium Development Goal. Why is MMR in India so high and how far are we from the goal? INNLIVE unravels the many challenges to saving mothers' lives.

Lhamu, a mother of twelve, lives in a remote village in Western Tibet. Three of her children died within a month of birth and the four year old strapped to her back looked as small as a one year old. She gave birth all alone, at home, all twelve times.

Focus: Will 'Aam Aadmi Party' Deliver The True 'Swaraj'?

The initial euphoria over its emphatic electoral win over, the focus is now on realities within which the AAP will have to deliver on its promises. INNLIVE explores if the party can realise its vision of ‘swaraj,’ living up to the true ideals of decentralisation.

Ever since the AAP's win in Delhi, there have been a spate of articles on right wing websites, questioning the rationale of issues that form the core of the AAP's political ideologies.

Monday, November 03, 2014

After Maharashtra debut, Hyderabad Based Majlis Party to be launched in Tamil Nadu

After debut in Maharashtra, now Hyderabad based All India Majlis Ittehadul Muslimen (AIMIM) which stunned many by its performance in recently held Maharashtra assembly polls by winning two seats today announced to launch its branch in Southern state of Tamil Nadu .

It was officially declared today when a delegation of Indian National League, TamilNadu met AMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi and legislature party leader in Telangana assembly Akbaruddin Owaisi at Majlis headquarter Darrusalam and joined the party.

The delegation led by Abd ur Raheem congratulated MIM leaders for party’s performances in Maharashtra and opined that it is the dream of people in TN to see AMIM winning MP, MLA and Corporator seats there.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Analysis: Electing A Lesser Evil On The Right Side Of India!

By Jaipal Singh (Guest Writer)

Canvassing and voting for the 16th Lok Sabha for the biggest democracy in the world is at full swing during this summer in India. By the time I am writing these lines, franchise for more than fifty percent parliamentary constituencies has already been locked in the ballot boxes aka electronic voting machines. Politics these days is synonymous to a dirty game in the muddy water and the limitation of the democratic process is that you can choose only from amongst the choices available. Yet the choice made at the ballot box is crucial as it determines what kind of governance you are opting for the next five years.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Editorial: Is Arvind Kejriwal Dangerous For Indian Politics?

By M H Ahssan | INNLIVE

Who is more dangerous for India – Arvind Kejriwal or Narendra Modi? This is a question that India needs to answer. But a recent article titled ‘Arvind Kejriwal: The Most Dangerous Man In Indian Politics’ has ventured to supply a one-sided answer to this question. The title is as catchy as it is misleading if not subversive. 

The ensuing ‘analysis’ is sadly not borne out by facts but relies on obfuscation and rhetoric. The tragic outcome is that many pertinent facts have been buried beneath the rubble of unsubstantiated allegations and sinister accusations. On the whole the article is an anti-Kejriwal diatribe disguised as an intellectual treatise.

While conferring on Modi the respectable halo of a “firebrand Hindu nationalist”, the writer goes on to indulge in pure speculation and sweeping generalizations about Kejriwal and other AAP leaders.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Audacious Rural Girls Talk Power And Politics In Tamilnadu

By Siddique Azad | Chennai

The small village of Thazhaiyattam in Gudiyattam panchayat in Tamil Nadu’s parched district of Vellore is likely to be overlooked as yet another nondescript rural hamlet that dot the state. But an intriguing political initiative is taking shape here, giving a new spin to the term ‘grassroots politics’.

A group of young women have come together to spread the message of democracy and rights in Thazhaiyattam and its neighboring villages like Ananganallur, Melallattur and Gudanagaram, among others. They get young people to speak about the promises they want their political leaders to fulfill, initiate lively discussions on the various social and governance problems they are up against, and even motivate them to come forward and join local panchayat bodies.

Friday, November 01, 2013

'Happy Birthday Andhra Pradesh': A Sad Day Of Formation And Likely Bifurcation Makes People To 'Think Twice'!

By M H Ahssan / INN Live

'Happy Birthday Andhra Pradesh' has a sad tinge to it today. For this November 1 could well be the last Andhra Pradesh Formation Day that the state is celebrating in its present form. If the Congress has its way, by December, the state would be cut into two to create a new state of Telangana with ten districts while the remaining 13 districts would continue to call themselves Andhra Pradesh.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Agri-Innovation: The Wonder Climber For Areca Nut Trees

By Srikrishna D / Bangalore

A new mechanical device that makes areca nut harvesting less labour-intensive and hence affordable could solve one of the major problems faced by farmers of the crop. 

In recent years, labour scarcity has emerged as one of the foremost challenges in farming. One crop that has been most affected by this is the supari, or areca nut. Areca nut trees attain a height of about 60-70 feet. It is mandatory to climb the trees a minimum of five times a year for a successful harvest - twice for the preventive spray against fungal disease, and thrice to harvest the areca bunches. The spraying is done in monsoon, while harvest time is typically in summer.

Only skilled labourers can carry out these farming operations. They have to climb the trees using muscle power. In an acre that has 550 trees, a labourer has to climb a minimum of 100 to 150 trees.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Changing Face Of Tamil Nadu’s Muslim Politics

By Syed Maqdoom / Chennai

Over the last year, agitations by radical Tamil Muslim groups have effectively influenced the Tamil Nadu government’s policies. In September 2012, the Tamilnadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam (TMMK) and Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath (TNTJ) protested against the film, The Innocence of Muslims, and laid siege to the U.S. Consulate in Chennai. In early 2013, in the face of similar protests, Kamal Haasan’s Vishwaroopam was first taken off the screens and exhibited only after cuts were made.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

New Initiative: Humble Jackfruit Eyes Haute Cuisine Status

By Swetha Reddy / INN Bureau

Of the abundant quantities of jackfruit grown in India annually, an estimated 70 per cent rots away, due to lack of awareness and difficulties of usage. Now, a joint initiative by an academic institute and a farmers' group seeks to change that. Sixty seven-year-old Prema Bhat Thottethodi, a farmer woman, was restless. Leaning on a walking stick, she was busy running around in the massive kitchen. Age and her knee-ache couldn’t deter her spirit. Later in the day, she stole the show by demonstrating many ‘unknown’ preparations.

Friday, May 03, 2013


By Venugopal / Kottayam

Meet M B Santosh, one of India's only three FIFA-accredited referees, who drives an auto-rickshaw and works as caretaker of an apartment in Kottayam, Kerala to support a family of five. Here, he shares the incredible story of his life and passion with INN.

A day in the life of Santosh, FIFA referee, at his hometown Kottayam, in Kerala Santosh is up and about early in the morning. He goes to the stadium ground for an hour of rigorous work-out; drops his daughter at school; takes out his auto-rickshaw and operates in the town for a few hours before reaching the Skyline apartments, of which he is the caretaker. He is back once again with the auto rickshaw in the afternoon; returns to the apartment in the evening and attends to the routine work there. Also takes up assignments as a personal driver on hire.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


By M H Ahssan / Chennai

Tamilnadu has a history of mixing politics and food. With Jayalalita’s Re 1-idli scheme becoming a hit with even the middle class, has she perfected the art of food bank politics?

At 8am, the sun shines bright over Sant home High Road which leads to the panoramic Marina beach in Chennai. A newly painted small stucco building on this road is making waves. A long queue is weaving out of the verandah of the two roomed building and if you walk past it and step into the kitchen, the smell of freshly cooked idlis and sambar, the staple Tamil breakfast, assails you.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


By Shreya Reddy / Hyderabad

By scrapping the Bayyaram mining leases in Khammam district and announcing a decision to hand them over to the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy queered the pitch for the Telangana Rashtra Samithi and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

In fact, the TDP, which has been crying hoarse over the allocation of Bayyaram mining leases for quite sometime, was caught napping when the State Government announced its decision. Aside from this, the State Government announced that it would insist the Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL), the public sector company that runs the Vizag Steel Plant, to establish a benification plant and also a steel plant in Khammam district.