Learning from the Past: Framing of Undernutrition in India since Independence and Its Links to Agriculture

This report examines the evolution of the policy debates on nutrition and agriculture from India’s Independence to the present in order to better understand the roots for the weak links between agriculture and nutrition in contemporary India. The analysis finds several shifts in the framing of undernutrition over the past half century, changing from being considered a health issue to a food shortage issue, to a poverty challenge, and most recently a food security issue. The framing of agriculture, on the other hand remained mostly consistent until the early 2000s, being viewed as a key driver of economic growth and the foundation of food security. During the last 10-15 years the awareness of the potential of agriculture for a balanced, diversified and nutritious diet gradually increased in the policy debates; however, deeply-rooted beliefs and perceptions about agriculture remain and may hinder the development of more nutrition-sensitive agricultural programs and policies.

Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA), February 2016