ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Let Them Eat Paste

The Malnutrition Market

Health activists have critiqued the Maharashtra government’s proposal to provide a ready-to-use therapeutic paste to malnourished children across the state, despite strong evidence of the benefits of cheaper, more appropriate and locally produced foods. The move is one more example of how malnutrition, a condition that results from the widespread deprivation and inequities exacerbated by a market-driven economic system, is being converted into an opportunity to expand markets and make profits.

According to the classic anecdote from late 18th century France, on hearing of the demand for bread by the poor of Paris, Queen Marie-Antoinette retorted, “Let them eat cake!” In Maharashtra today, we have a situation where, setting aside cheaper, more appropriate and locally produced foods, a state department seems set to impose an expensive form of packaged nutrition on the children of the poor, defying logic. A deeper analysis reveals the possible dynamics behind this move.

Maharashtra’s women and child development (WCD) department is currently proposing a policy for the introduction of a packaged nutrient paste, known as ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF), for malnourished children across the state (Mahamulkari 2017a). This is a controversial decision, questioned from many quarters, including ministers and officials from other concerned departments.

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Updated On : 3rd Jul, 2017
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