According to the NFHS-3, almost half of India’s children under five years of age (48%) are stunted and 43% are underweight. The proportion of children who are severely undernourished is also notable: 24% are severely stunted and 16% are severely underweight. Wasting is quite a serious problem in India, affecting 20% of children under five years of age. Very few children under five years of age are overweight. India suffers from a high burden of under-nutrition and micronutrient malnutrition across the spectrum of age, sex and socio-economic background. As per the NFHS-3, 15.8% of women age 15-49 are undernourished. Understandably, the women who are undernourished themselves are also much more likely than other women, to have children who are undernourished.

The infant mortality rate in India is steadily declining. The NFHS-3 estimate of infant mortality is 57 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared with the NFHS-2 estimate of 68 deaths per 1,000 live births and the NFHS-1 estimate of 79.

The maternal mortality ratio is estimated to have declined from 400 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 1997-98 to 300 in 2001-03 (Registrar General, 2006b). However, these achievements have not met the population and health goals set by the Government of India and the changes have been considerably slower than in many other Asian countries.

Micronutrient malnutrition is another major affliction, which severely impairs quality of life of Indian population. Of all the micronutrient deficiencies in India, iron deficiency has the most overwhelming impact. Every age group is vulnerable. Iron deficiency impairs the cognitive development of children from infancy through to adolescence. It damages immune mechanisms, and is associated with increased morbidity rates. It causes as much as a 30% impairment of physical work capacity, performance and earning potential in men and women, thus imposing high costs on national productivity and health care

Rajasthan is one of the worst performing states in India in relation to MNCHN indicators. Caste and class divide, strong religious biases, gender inequities, poor living conditions, low literacy levels, conservative attitudes and low income opportunities contribute adversely to the health conditions in the state. Certain traditional practices such as pre-lacteal feeding also have a negative impact on health outcomes. With high maternal mortality (264/100,000 live births) and infant mortality (57/1000 live births), women and children bear the highest burden of diseases and ill health (AHS 2011-12).

Madhya Pradesh is another cause of concern from health point of view. According to NFHS-3 the state's performance on the infant mortality rate (IMR) and the maternal mortality rate (MMR), is far below the national average. The infant mortality in the state in 2004 was estimated at 79 (84 for rural areas and 56 for urban areas) as against national IMR of 58, the highest among all states in the country. Between 2000 and 2004, while the national IMR reduced from 68 to 58, the IMR of Madhya Pradesh dropped from 87 to just 79. These facts point to the poor nutrition status of the population.


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