NPR : News

Filed Under:

School Tragedy Puts Focus On Poor Health Of India's Children

We're following the tragedy in India where more than 20 children died Wednesday after eating tainted food at their school as part of their midday meal program.

This is a stark contrast to the stories of India's economic rise that have dominated headlines for the past decade. Many in India have been lifted from poverty, and the middle class has greatly expanded, as have the ranks of millionaires and billionaires. Yet extreme poverty is still a problem, and India has not been as successful as some other developing countries when it comes to reducing childhood illnesses and mortality.

By some estimates, more than 40 percent of Indian children are underweight. As the chart below shows, India's mortality rates for children under 5 (per 1,000 live births) have come down more slowly when compared with countries like China and South Africa.

Wednesday's tragedy occurred in Bihar state, which is home to more than 100 million people and is one of India's poorest states.

Nationwide, the midday meal program has been praised, but it has been rife with problems in Bihar and some other states. This is from the Indian government's own 2010 report:

"Overall, in Bihar lack of proper planning and absence of proper coordination between Bihar State Food Corporation and district level officers has resulted in erratic supply of funds and foodgrain. Schools generally do not receive quota of foodgrain in a planned manner on a monthly basis, as a result of which a few schools were overstocked resulting in breeding of insects."

The school lunch program is offered across much of the country. It benefits mainly India's poor. For instance, according to the government report, the average annual income of the households for beneficiary children in Bihar was about $400; about a third of the parents in Bihar cannot read or write.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Writer James Alan McPherson, Winner Of Pulitzer, MacArthur And Guggenheim, Dies At 72

McPherson, the first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, has died at 72. His work explored the intersection of white and black lives with deftness, subtlety and wry humor.
NPR

QUIZ: How Much Do You Know About Presidents And Food?

It's week two of the party conventions, and all these speeches are making us hungry. So we made a quiz to test your savvy about presidents and our favorite topic, food.
WAMU 88.5

Your Turn: Ronald Reagan's Shooter, Freddie Gray Verdicts And More

Have opinions about the Democratic National Convention, or the verdicts from the Freddie Gray cases? It's your turn to talk.

NPR

Police Use Fingertip Replicas To Unlock A Murder Victim's Phone

Michigan State University engineers tried 3-D-printed fingertips and special conductive replicas of the victim's fingerprints to crack the biometric lock on his Samsung Galaxy phone.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.