Question: There is a growing divergence in the relationship between poverty and hunger in India. The shrinking of social expenditure by the government is forcing the poor to spend more on Non-food essential items squeezing their food budget. Elucidate.
Answer: The government is moving away from state facilitated welfare by drastically cutting down on social expenditure. The reduced expenditure has put more pressure on poorer sections, who are overwhelmingly dependent on government aid to survive.
Non-food related expenditure
Health comprises a major chunk of expenditure for poor people and this sector puts additional strain on incomes.
Higher education involves spending a small fortune for the poor sections. The government aid in form of scholarships and other means reduce the economic impact on poor citizens.
The poor sections spend a large sum on their accomodation especially in urban areas. Government supported initiatives can reduce the strain on incomes.
Implications of reducing food budget
Since more part of income is diverted towards non-food items, the amount spent for procuring healthy food materials is cut down , causing a negtive effect.
This is a major problem among growing children who are denied essential nutrients for a healthy and balanced growth. This can cause problems in children in form of shunting, wasting etc.
- Maternal health deterioration
Women being the last consumers in the household are sometimes forced to give up their meal , owing to shortages. This will cause problems in young mothers in form of mortality and anaemia.
- Reducing human working potential
Optimal utilisation of human potential for economic activity can boost growth and development. By reduced nutritional intake the potential to work is reduced drastically.
- Eventhough the budget has been cut, there has not been complete ignorance on the part of the government.
- The government has introduced schemes to benefit poor citizens in these expenditures such as Ayushman Bharat for Universal healthcare, PM Awaas Yojana for housing, Rashtriya Ucchatar Shiksha Abhiyan for higher education etc.
Thus, a better balanced approach has to be undertaken where enough efforts are made to provide nutritional supplements to the citizens along with other non-food related schemes. The National Nutrition Mission is one such effort.