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Issue of malnutrition not included in manifestos: NGO

Posted on Apr 24 2014 | IANS

New Delhi, April 24 : Despite every second child in India being malnourished, the issue of malnutrition does not find a mention in the manifestos of most of the political parties this election, a CRY analysis said Thursday.

NGO Child Rights and You (CRY), which analysed the manifestos of 10 major political parties including the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Samajwadi Party (SP), said that only five parties have mentioned the issue in their manifestos.

"The resounding promises to tackle the issue of malnutrition in the country have not been reflected or even gained a mention in the manifestos of most of the political parties this election. Despite the grim statistics of nutritional status of our children, we face every second child being malnourished in the country and the situation being called a national shame by the prime minister," said a statement by CRY.

It said while parties like Congress, Communist Party of India and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) have spoken about measures to reduce malnutrition, and the BJP committing itself to eradicate it on a mission mode, parties like AAP, AIADMK, DMK and SP have not mentioned anything about tackling an issue as grave as malnutrition.

"Children constitute one third of the country's population, yet they remain one of the most neglected segments by our political parties, because they do not form a vote bank. It is disappointing to see that grave issues like malnutrition do not even gain an adequate mention in the manifestos," said Puja Marwaha, chief executive officer, CRY.

While it is good to see some parties including a separate section for children, it is disappointing that there is no clear understanding of child rights on the whole, she said.

Marwaha said children needed to be viewed not just as beneficiaries of specific schemes, or falling within the purview of specific ministries, but as living entities that are affected by steps, big and small, taken or not taken by various state functionaries, departments and ministries.

The NGO said issues like corruption, development, good governance, women empowerment and safety find priority on election agendas but children's issues seem to be on the "back burner" yet again.

"While the weightage given to children is better than 2009 manifestos, the issues that we have recognized remain essentially the same," the statement said.

It said child rights issues constitute only 11 percent of the content of the manifestos on an average.

CRY has presented a charter of demands to political parties and urged them to put emphasis on child rights issues in their manifestos as a part of its election advocacy campaign 'Vote for Child Rights'.

The organisation also met over 170 representatives of various political parties and imparted their demands.

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