The prevalence of child undernutrition in India is among the highest in the world, nearly double that of Sub-Saharan Africa, with dire consequences for morbidity, mortality, productivity and economic growth. Drawing on qualitative studies and quantitative evidence from large household surveys, this book explores the dimensions of child undernutrition in India and examines the effectiveness of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)program, India's main early child development intervention, in addressing it.
Although levels of undernutrition in India declined modestly during the 1990s, the reductions lagged behind those achieved by other countries with similar economic growth. Nutritional inequalities across different states and socioeconomic and demographic groups remain large.
Although the ICDS program appears to be well-designed and well-placed to address the multi-dimensional causes of malnutrition in India, several problems exist that prevent it from reaching its potential. The book concludes with a discussion of a number of concrete actions that can be taken to bridge the gap between the policy intentions of ICDS and its actual implementation.