76% of rural Indian population cannot afford a nutritious diet: Study


As per a paper recently published in journal Food Policy, even if they spent all their income on food, 63.3% of the rural Indian population (52 crore Indians) would not be able to afford a nutritious meal. If they set aside just a third of their income for non-food expenses, 76% of rural Indians would not be able to afford a nutritious diet.

Here are five components of the story:

  • The data does not even account for the meals of non-earning members of a household, such as children or older adults.
  • As per the guidelines issued by the National Institute for Nutrition’s for a nutritionally adequate diet, even if one selects the cheapest options, a day’s meals would cost ₹45 (or ₹51 for an adult man).
  • The paper, titled Affordability of nutritious diets in rural India, is authored by International Food Policy Research Institute economist Kalyani Raghunathan and others, and uses the latest available food price and wage information from the National Sample Survey’s 2011 dataset.
  • This study used the wages of unskilled workers who make up a larger proportion of the population than industrial workers, and included items such as dairy, fruit and dark green leafy vegetables that are essential as per India’s official dietary guidelines.
  • On Friday, the Global Hunger Index showed that India has the world’s highest prevalence of child wasting, reflecting acute undernutrition. 

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